They say that the devil is in the details but they also say that God is in the details. Whichever saying you might look at, it is clear that taking a closer look at something can reveal many aspects about it. At a cursory glance, these qualities and attributes might be overlooked. If there is one car that these sayings apply to in recent times, it is the Citroen C3. At first glance, it can seriously impress you or leave you with a bad taste depending on where you might look. This is what I experienced along with many other people who enquired about the car during the three days I had it with me. So what are these hidden details that I am talking about, let us find out!
Citroen C3 Design & Styling
Let me get the most obvious thing out of the way first, the C3 is a good-looking car. Almost everyone who laid their eyes upon it, old or young, was impressed by the unique design philosophy, clean lines and imposing front. The tall stance improves the vehicle’s presence on the road and thankfully Citroen is not adamant about calling it an SUV. They call it a hatchback with a twist, which I can get behind.
The twin-slat Citroen grille at the front and the LED DRLs give the front of this car a handsome look. Similarly, on the side, you have some clean lines running above the wheel arches and an option to get a dual-tone roof. Altogether, the C3 feels like a confident fellow wearing a three-piece suit.
Citroen C3 in profile
The only things that feel a bit out of place are the steel wheels and the halogen headlamps. Both are functional but do fail to match the aesthetic of the rest of the vehicle. Citroen does offer alloy wheels as an option but it seems odd that even when you buy the top-of-the-line model you still have to pay extra for alloy wheels.
Citreon C3 rear
Citroen C3 Interior Space & Features
Citroen C3 interior
Move inside the cabin and you will find that Citroen has mostly stuck to using plastic on almost all surfaces. On paper, it might sound like a very bad thing but the quality and finishing of all the panels is generally good. Kudos to the manufacturer for putting a lot of attention towards crafting a cabin that feels solid to sit inside. It even has a large 10-inch touchscreen that is equipped with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The screen is shorter in height and wider, something that is not seen in other vehicles. I suspected that this would be problematic to use but was proven wrong. At no point did I question this unique aspect ratio of the screen and the operation was smooth as well. Another thing that I really liked was the factory-fitted sound system. It had a rich sound which was adequately loud as well. I feel that it will be greatly appreciated by people who like to go on long drives and listen to their favourite tunes.
Citroen C3 gets a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment display
Sadly, the touchscreen is perhaps the most advanced piece of equipment in the cabin. The C3 misses out on some crucial things like automatic climate control, a centre armrest and an inside rearview mirror with any kind of dimming function. Even the digital instrument cluster is nothing to write home about. It is not like the fancy-coloured displays we have seen in other cars and offers a limited amount of real estate.
One thing that you need to keep in mind is that despite having an overall length of 3,981mm, the C3 has a wheelbase of 2,540mm. This makes it the car with the largest wheelbase in the segment and translates into having a lot of room inside. Whether you sit at the back or front, you will not be complaining about space. I am 6 feet tall and had no trouble with the available headroom either. One odd thing here is the angle at which the front and rear doors open. The front doors are bigger and open much wider compared to the ones at the back. While getting in and out of the rear seat is not a problem, you do notice the difference between the two rows. Boot space is an adequate 315 litres on the C3 and you can fit a good amount of your belongings in it.
Citroen C3 boot space
Citroen C3 Engine Specifications & Driving Dynamics
The 1.0-litre turb-petrol engine of Citroen C3
Citroen is offering the C3 with two engine options and both are 1.2-litre, three-cylinder units. However, one of them is a turbocharged unit while the other is naturally-aspirated. I had the more punchy turbo-petrol model and spoiler alert, it is a whole lot of fun! It is one of the most powerful engines that one can get for under Rs 10 lakh. It literally put a smile on my face as I put the power down and I am sure it will leave you giggling too if you enjoy driving. Belting out 108.5hp and 190Nm, this motor is more than enough for a car of this size. The C3 is decently quick off the line but once you build the revs and let the turbo kick in, it just shoots like a rocket! The 6-speed manual gearbox accompanying the engine also works well but the clutch action can be a bit too aggressive. It took me a while to get used to the kick you get as you let go of the clutch, especially in the first and second gear. I feel this is one aspect Citroen could look into fine-tuning a bit more. The sudden response might give you an initial fake feeling of the car being extra quick but can get a bit annoying in the long run. In case you love automatics, you will have to look elsewhere as Citroen is currently selling the C3 with only manual options.
Citroen C3 gets a 6-speed manual gearbox
One thing that pleasantly surprised me was the response from the steering wheel. For a car in this segment, it felt much more engaging than any of its competitors and allowed me to place the car much more precisely. Citroen has found the perfect balance to keep the steering from becoming too resistive at slow speeds and providing adequate feedback as you gain speed. It is a similar story with the suspension setup too. With its elder sibling, the C5 Aircross, being known for its excellent ride quality, the C3 had big shoes to fill. I am happy to report that the C3 lives up to the expectations and eats up undulations on the roads along with any speed breakers that you might encounter. And when you wish to drive the wheels off the C3, it will comply and not swing around like a pendulum.
Citroen C3 Prices & Conclusion
Prices for the Citroen C3 start at Rs 5.88 lakh but the turbo-petrol model starts at Rs 8.15 lakh. If you compare the cabin features of the C3 to other cars, it might not look like a very enticing proposition. However, what you need to know is that the C3 can deliver one of the best driving experiences in its segment. The turbo-petrol engine is a hoot to drive, the steering wheel is precise and the suspension is the perfect companion for all terrains you face during daily commutes. I was trying to avoid the words quirk and quirky throughout this review but I must admit that the C3 has some quirks that we associate with French cars but beyond that, it is a driver’s delight. If that is something you are looking at, you will definitely love the C3.