Citroen C3 Road Test Review – Cat among the Pigeons?

French car maker Citroen is all set to get their 2nd car model which is made for India and made in India for the world the C3. The car maker has made huge investments here and the C3 is the first output for it. The C3 promises a lot but does it deliver? We head to lovely rainy Goa to find out all on this French beauty, read on to know all.

Food for Thought

The Citroen C3 made its first appearance globally in 2002 as a hatchback. What India gets is a special model that has been developed from ground zero for India and the South American markets. Codenamed as the CC21 the Citroen C3 uses the PSA CMP platform which is the Common Modular Platform shared in the Stellantis group of brands. This platform is used by Peugeot, Opel, Vauxhall, DS Automobiles and Aeolus. Citroen will manufacture the C3 at their Tiruvallur plant in Tamil Nadu. The French car maker terms the C3 as a B Segment hatchback rather an SUV. This would be the same platform that would be used for Citroen’s 1st all electric car the C Cubed for India in 2023.

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Exteriors

First things first if you liked the styling on the C5 Aircross, you will surely love the C3’s exteriors as it reminds you a lot of the bigger brother. The styling is very European, very trendy and looks very premium. Full marks to the designers for the way they have styled the C3 which is an instant attention grabber. Upfront you get the Citroen family face with the Chevron logo making up for the grille extending the width of the face and mating in slim type DRL flushed into the bodyline. The halogen headlapms are neatly placed inside the bumper which come with integrated DRL placed at an angle. The headlights get Citroen branding in them reminding you of the attention to detail. The bumper comes finished in dual tone color with black air dam area and faux silver inserts on the lower section. You get these special color inserts around the round fog lamps that kind of standout defining the look of the face of this good looking car.

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The flat bonnet gets soft character lines that kind of give a muscular look. Coming to the sides, here you see fiber unpainted cladding around the wheel arches on the fender. The sides is highlighted with the fiber insert cladding tha runs across the lower section of the doors which also has a colored insert again reminding you of the C5 Aircross. The door handles get body color but have the classic lift up styling instead of the grab type ones which would have looked better. Wing mirrors get colored housing but miss out on turn lamps in them which are placed on the fenders. The glass area gets black masking on the frame while the roof gets neat design roof rails in black. The roof also gets a regular radio antenna while we missed the shark fin one here. Dual tone options are available on the C3 which look trendier. The C3 drives on chunky looking 15 inch wheels that come with steel rims mounted on Ceat Secure Drive tyres of 195/65 R15 spec and some cleverly designed wheel caps that look like alloys.

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Coming to the rear the Citroen C3 get stylish looking C shaped tail lamps neatly flushed into the bodyline. The rear profile is highlighted with an integrated spoiler, rear windshield that’s flushed into the body line, large Citroen logo and the C3 badging on the boot lid. The rear bumper too gets the dual tone treatment with colored inserts around the stop reflectors. The tail section misses out on rear wiper and a defogger.

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Overall the C3 looks very handsome and different, complete head turner for sure. The styling is typical Citroen family and the car will surely get loads of attention where ever it will go. SUV like stance and a good ground clearance of 180mm add to its butch appeal.

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You need to open the boot using the button given on the boot opener. The C3 has 315litres of boot area with a wide deep opening that can store 3 large sized bags easily for your getaways.

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Interiors

Step inside the Citroen C3 and the typical C5 Aircross like styling is very much evident here too. You get a premium looking dash board with a dimpled colored insert that runs across the width of the dash. AC vents get glossy black surrounds and chrome linings on them while there is a tiny silver space just below the crash pad area above the glove box. The highlight of the dash is the 10 inch wide screen touch screen AVN system that is compatible for wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto.

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This unit also comes with FM, Bluetooth connectivity, mirrored GPS. The C3 gets a all LCD instrument cluster which reads out the speed, odometer, fuel level and the engine temperature all in monochrome, pretty basic but does its job to the point.

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The C3 gets manual AC unit with rotary type control knobs. You get USB and Power outlet ports under it and lots of storage spaces along with can holders.

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The gear shifter is designed differently with faux leather base and silver insert surrounds on the console. The steering is again a typical Citroen style three spoke unit with MFD buttons and a square boss pad, manual adjust for height is available on this steering. Door pads get lot of storage spaces to hold your water bottles.

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The wing mirrors get manual adjust on them missing out on electric adjust. Seats get fabric upholstery with printed inserts and colored hand stitching pattern. Front seats get unified head rests while the driver’s seat gets the much needed height adjust. Front seats are a bit narrow but come with enough padding to support your back and behind. Head room and shoulder room in the front is pretty good. Coming to the rear, here you get two integrated head rests, while the rear seats offer good comfort, leg room and knee room the seat size is a bit small.

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Rear passengers get two USB ports but miss out on rear AC vents. Rear power window control buttons are placed in the middle of the front seats in rather unconventional style. Nevertheless rear seat comfort is pretty neat and the USP here being the theatre like seating where the rear seat is placed at a slight height as compared to the front ones giving the rear passengers a better view of the road ahead.

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Fit finish and the overall quality is pretty neat and nothing to crib about here. Everything feels practical and to the point with space being abundant inside the cabin of the C3.

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Engines – Suspension – Drive

Powering the Citroen C3 are two engine options, you have the top of the line 1.2L 3-Cylinder Turbo Petrol unit PureTech 110 that makes 110PS of power and 190Nm of torque mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. The second engine option is the 1.2L 3-Cylinder NA unit PureTech 82 that makes 82PS of power and 115Nm of torque. This engine comes with a 5-speed manual transmission option.

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How is the Citroen C3 to Drive?

We drove the PureTech 110 the turbo model first and to start off this is a highly refined unit. On the move the power builds up quickly just as the turbo kicks in quietly. The engine is tuned more for fuel efficiency and Citroen claims a mileage figure of 19.4 km/l on this one. The C3 drives very nicely and feels planted at all speeds thanks to its 15 inch wheels and the overall large dimensions. The car does some good speeds quickly and feels safe and secure during the highway runs.

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The steering feels well connected and balanced. Gear shifts on the 6-speed transmission is precise and quick. Citroen is known for its ride quality and for the Magic Carpet drive on the C5 and here too if not the magic carpet effect but the C3 gets a extremely well tuned suspension setup that irons out the bad roads and pot holes with ease. The C3 Turbo is a fun car to drive around the city roads too and a mean highway gunner for your high speeds run.

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Coming to the Non Turbo C3 well this one’s tuned more for fuel efficiency and returns with a claimed mileage of 19.80 km/l. Power delivery here is easy and relaxed. You need to play with the 5-speed transmission and once you do that well you will have fun with this version too. The speed build up may not be instant but it does hold its pace well. And due to its body dynamic the C3 non turbo is a excellent option too for someone who wants higher fuel economy and does not care much for highway gunning.

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All in all the C3 drives like a much larger car and possesses all the virtues of a larger SUV in terms of cabin comfort, drive quality, drive feel. Our pick would be the 1.2L PureTech Turbo variant if asked to choose for its sheer fun to drive character that its loaded with.

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Safety

The Citroen C3 comes with good safety equipment as standard which include, front driver and passenger airbags, reverse park sensors, speed alerts, speed sensitive auto door lock. What we missed on the C3 includes reverse park camera which would be available as an accessory.

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Competition

The prices for the Citroen C3 are not out yet but from what we seen and experienced during our drive the smart looking car will go up against the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Ignis, Tata Punch, Nissan Magnite and the Renault Kiger in its segment where we feel it would be priced in the Rs. 6 Lakh to Rs. 9 Lakh price range. But the possibilities are also that the French car maker can surprise the segment by pricing the C3 under Rs. 5.5 Lakh. Only time will tell.

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Verdict

As a product the C3 is a brilliant effort from Citroen as their very first made for India Made in India product. The C3 bears all the brand values of Citroen in terms of design, styling, in cabin space, ride quality and practicality. The C3 comes with a choice of two engine options that will carter to both ends of the buyers – enthusiast and the to the point daily driver. We loved the way the car looks and demands loads of attention getting it outright. The only point to be considered here by the French car maker is pricing, if they get that spot on they surely have a Winner here.

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If you worried about service and after sales for the C3, well Citroen will send the service to your door step or if needed the road side assistance will reach you wherever you are with their service on wheels.

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