Citroen C3 first drive Review: Brilliant but has some flaws

Citroen has been in the Indian market now for some time and the C5 Aircross was the introductory vehicle from the French brand in the Indian market. Now, the brand is ready to take on a mass-market approach with the introduction of the new C3.

Now what is the C3 all about and what are the features it gets, what are the powertrain options, what are its pros and cons, how is it to drive and most importantly should this be on your radar when you’re out in the market Looking for a sub-compact SUV? Read the complete review for all the answers.
Citroen C3: How is it on the outside?

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Talking about the design of the new C3, the design is very much familiar with the elder sibling, the C5 Aircross. At the front, it gets a chrome grille that incorporates into the Citroen logo which is unique.

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The SUV gets twin-pod LED DRLs with halogen bulbs for the headlight and foglamps. Lower down it gets a hexagonal air dam with the faux scuff plate. The car definitely looks different from its competitors and stands out on the road and it also has that typical French quirkiness to it.

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The car gets orange accents around the fog lamps, on wing mirrors, on side door claddings and on the rear bumper which makes the car look funky. One interesting bit here is that you can customise the color to chrome or platinum gray.

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15-inch steel wheels wrapped up in 195/65 CEAT rubber

The car gets 15-inch steel wheels wrapped up in 195/65 CEAT rubber. A bit of a downer here is that even in the top variant you do not get alloy wheels. They are an accessory that you need to buy separately.
Moving on to the back, the orange color inserts add a bit of funk to the design. The design of the tailgate is clean and as a result of that the C3 looks very unique.

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The C3 measures 3,981 mm in length, 1,733 mm in width and 1,604 mm in height. It has a wheelbase of 2,540 mm which is more than the Tata Punch (2,445 mm) and the Nissan Magnite & Renault Kiger (2,500 mm)

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Citroen C3: How is it on the inside?

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Once you step inside the cabin of the new C3, the first thing you notice here is that there is a lot of funkiness inside. The cabin follows a two-tone orange and gray theme. Again, just like the outside, you can customise the color to anodised gray if orange isn’t your thing.

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The car gets a 10-inch infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. From a segment perspective, the infotainment screen works really well. It’s got a good touch response and the resolution of the screen is good too. Apart from that, we also liked the sound quality of the speakers. There’s a digital instrument cluster which shows out the basic information about the car but it misses out on the tachometer.

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The car gets manual air conditioning with chunky rotary knobs that click right into place and also there’s a huge storage space with two cup holders beneath them. The steering wheel feels nice to hold and gets a flat-bottom design. The buttons for the audio control have been incorporated but their plastic quality and fitment could have been better.

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The plastic quality inside the cabin isn’t consistent and one can spot cost-cutting measures inside. The rear window power buttons are placed oddly in between the front seats, there are no electric ORVMs and not even get a manual adjustment for the dimming function for the IRVM. In addition, there is no rear de-fogger, no adjustable headrests, no rear-arm rests and there’s no rear camera as well.

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In terms of practicality and space, there’s a lot of space inside for occupants and for storage. Even in the rear seats, there’s enough headroom and legroom. The boot space is around 315 litres which is decent for a car of this size and class. Clearly, seating comfort is an area that the C3 is really good at.
Citroen C3: Engine and Transmission

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The Citroen C3 will be available in two powertrain options – a 1.2-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine with a five-speed manual gearbox and a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine with a six-speed manual. Surprisingly, no automatic gearbox for now but an auto gearbox will be added later.
Citroen C3: How does it perform?
First, we drove the 1.2-litre naturally aspirated unit that produces 82 bhp and 115 Nm of torque mated to a 5-speed manual.

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The naturally aspirated engine of course feels a little lethargic but compared to another small capacity, three-cylinder NA engines, it performs well. If you’re looking for a small compact vehicle for your urban runabouts this engine does the job. The 5-speed gearbox is mated well to the engine and offers good drivability.
The 1.2-litre turbocharged Petrol is slick and quick, and the acceleration off the line is good. There is a little bit of turbo-lag but you will love the way the car lunges forward when the turbo kicks in. The turbo gets a 6-speed manual as mentioned previously and the gearbox has been mated well to the engine but it’s a bit jerky. Every time you let off the clutch and accelerate the transition is not smooth. We aren’t sure if this is an issue in general or if it was specific to the car we drove.

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Taking about the refinement, it’s pretty good. While on the outside the three-cylinder noise is audible the NVH insulation in the car is pretty good.
Citroen C3: Comfort and Handling
Comfort is something that Citroen cars are good at and have made it a core tenet of its brand.
Just like its elder sibling the C5 Aircross, the C3 promises great comfort due to its suspension. The C3, of course, cannot deliver the same level of sophistication but from a segment perspective, it’s way ahead of anything in this class.

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The handling is pretty impressive and the balance between ride and handling is pretty much spot on. We pushed the car hard around corners and still it had controlled body roll. The grip from the tire is pretty good and it comes equipped with wide 195 section tires – not the skinny tires you usually find on compact cars.

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The chassis offers very good dynamics and as a result of that, the C3 is a vehicle that you can throw around corners and have a lot of fun. Clearly, ride and handling are the strongest departments for the C3.
Citroen C3: Should you buy it?
The final thing missing in this puzzle is the prices because they haven’t been revealed yet but they will be on the 20th of July. The C3 is an impressive vehicle, offers good space, great ride quality, handling and good performance but you also need to consider that it misses out on some of the key and basic features that we’ve mentioned earlier.

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With the absence of all these features, the C3 has to be priced aggressively and not just competitively. If you don’t care about the features and the strong mechanicals, great comfort are what you’re looking for, then the Citroen C3 is the one. There’s no doubt that Citroen has a winner on its hands as long as they don’t out price themselves.


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