In name form, the Citroen C3 has been with us since 2002, preceded by the excellent Saxo and AX before that.
The first-generation C3 took a symbolic shape that was reminiscent of the French classic, lovable and undeniably rubbish CV2. The second-generation was a better effort with more modern styling but was overshadowed by its family DS3 ‘twin’. Neither version has been able to hold a torch to the supermini standard-bearer, the Ford Fiesta.
Citroen is demonstrating the art of evolution though, learning from before and adapting accordingly, and this third generation seems to have hit the nail on the head. The new model has taken styling cues from the excellent (but more importantly, sales success) C4 Cactus and the C3 now offers DS levels of customisation.
Measuring in at 3.9m long, 1.75m wide and 1.47m tall, it’s similar in size to its predecessor but is lower, giving it a more purposeful sporty stance. It’s now roughly the same size and shape as the Fiesta, albeit with a slightly larger boot.
The five-door supermini now sports Citroen’s latest family face with two tier headlights and chevrons that stretch the width of the car, encompassing the daytime running lights. Along the side, and following in the C4 Cactus’s footsteps, the C3 now has Airbump panels, which not only give it a more rugged SUV appearance but protect the doors from bumps and scratches. Cementing the more rugged appearance are wheel arches that get a plastic finish, matching the lower bumpers.
Citroen has stuck with the recent popularity of having a ‘floating roof’, that works well here, while contrasting fog lights surrounds and 3D effect rear lights finish off the neat styling.
There are 36 possible colour schemes available for the C3 with nine exterior paint colours and body colours and three roof colours (white, black and red) to pick from.
Inside, there are more styling cues from the C4 Cactus including the door pulls and the infotainment screen that rises out of what appears to be a stainless steel flute. There are four interior themes to choose from; Standard Ambiance, Metropolitan Grey Ambience, Urban Red Ambience and Hype Colorado Ambience.
Powering the C3 are three petrol and two diesel engines. The petrol options consist of three versions of a three-cylinder 1.2-litre engine with either 67, 81 or 108bhp, all of which get a manual gearbox. You can pick your diesel engine with either 74bhp or 99bhp and there’s an automatic gearbox.
All C3s is available with newly designed ‘comfortable’ seats, a panoramic glass sunroof, 7.0in touchscreen, keyless entry and start, mirror screening for your smartphone (to be able to control your phone through the touchscreen), 3D navigation, a reversing camera, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and hill-start assist.
However, there is a slight twist to this tale, and being a Citroen we’ve been missing something French and quirky. Well, here it is. The C3 gets ConnectedCAM, which is a pre-installed HD camera that films what’s going on ahead of you as you drive. The proposal is that you then send road-trip photos and videos to your friends and family. As Dr Evil would say - right.