When the C3 came into view I happened to be standing beside a Ford Fiesta. The visual contrast between the two superminis was startling. Compared with the almost futuristic Citroen, the Fiesta looked like a car from a different age (which is almost true – despite various tweaks, Fiestas look about the same now as they did nearly ten years ago). I would have had a similar reaction if the car next to me had been a Vauxhall Corsa or, to a lesser extent, a Renault Clio.
It helped that this particular C3 was a Flair, and therefore fitted with the brilliant Airbumps which are not standard on lesser versions, and had a two-tone colour scheme and optional 17″ diamond cut alloy wheels. Cheaper C3s, despite their unusual “face”, can blend into the background. This one will probably still be distinctive after 2020.
In the best possible sense, it both looks and feels like a cartoon car. Everything is eye-catching or friendly or both. It seems to have been made of big, happy, brightly coloured circles, like most of the characters in LocoRoco (the best video game in the world ever, as I’m sure you already know).
The steering is very smooth, and if you apply enough of it the C3 all but falls over thanks to its very soft springing. Since the damping has been very well judged, though, it doesn’t lurch, and gently bounces back into position when you straighten up again.
In the PureTech, this is backed up by the jolly thrum of a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, by no means the quietest on the market but so pleasant to listen to that this doesn’t matter a bit.
The pedal operation is as good as the steering. The gearchange, in as French a manner as the fine ride quality, isn’t. In contrast to the smoothness found everywhere else, it’s a bit crunchy. In LocoRoco terms, it’s the equivalent of the Moja.
With a maximum output of 109bhp in its highest form as found here, the PureTech provides as much performance as the C3 needs, and does it without gobbling fuel. The official combined fuel economy of 61.4mpg shouldn’t be too hard to match – I averaged an indicated 54mpg and a measured 52 on a tankful of petrol, most of it consumed on motorways. You’d be lucky to beat 40 by much in town driving but could well reach 60 on A-roads without much effort.
More information on the C3 range in general can be found in our first drive article.
Engine size 1199cc
Top speed 117mph
0-62mph 9.3 seconds
Fuel economy 61.4mpg combined
CO2 emissions 103g/km
Towing capacity 600kg (braked)
Euro NCAP (2017) Overall 4 stars Adult occupant 88% Child occupant 83% Pedestrian 59% Safety assist 58%
Information correct at publication date