Home / Reviews / First Drive / Citroen C3 First Drive Review – Two Birds, One Citroen

 

In an age where hatchbacks are losing ground to compact SUVs, the Citroen C3 is a bold step. A “hatchback” that brings the hardware to fight the compact SUV lot as well.

Citroen C3

Story: Jim Gorde
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

Citroen C3

Roof-rails finished in black. Front and rear embedded skid-plates. A high 180 millimetres of ground clearance. Thick and high-profile 195/65 rubber on 15-inch wheels. And that butch stance. Clearly Citroen are aware of what they have. And they are targeting the youth who want more in less. More of everything in less of everything. More space. Less size. More tech. Less price. More quality. Less quantity? Well.

Citroen India have been here for some time, slowly but surely expanding their presence while communicating their USP of prioritising comfort all round. The C5 Aircross was their spearhead of choice, but it is a more premium offering and comes with a potent diesel engine. Citroen see no market for a compact car with a diesel engine owing to a high cost of production and ancillaries. True, they’re cleaner than petrols, all said and done, but the cost of the new-age clean-up technology is much higher.

But back to the matter at hand. The new Citroen C3 is being offered as a hatchback but looks—and feels—a lot like a compact crossover SUV. The body style on this high spec is certainly crossover and so are the features mentioned at the outset. Anyway, the C3 was created to excite the senses, to offer comfort and space of a larger car in a more compact body, and to allow for extensive customisation to facilitate buyers to make their ride unique by personalising it the way they want to. That means a choice of four vibrant exterior colours as well as two roof colours, two dashboard colours, and as many as 56 options spread across three accessory packs for chrome or contrast elements.

Citroen C3

The new Citroen C3 measures just short of four metres long, at 3,981 millimetres. It has a relatively longer wheelbase of 2,540 mm, among the best in the segment—and I use the term loosely here because, initially, I believed the C3 would take on the Maruti Suzuki Ignis and Tata Punch. It turns out that it’s a bit more like what the Hyundai i20 Active was and looks set to take on the likes of the Honda WR-V, Tata Nexon, Nissan Magnite, Renault Kiger, Hyundai Venue, and even the Maruti Suzuki Brezza—all of which, save for the WR-V, have a shorter wheelbase than the C3’s. This means the generous room in the C3 and the accompanying comfort, among other things, is something that makes it worth considering as a serious competitor in the compact car segment overall. Then comes sharp urban styling, unique front-end design, artful lines and creases, the 180 mm of ground clearance, and the 315 litres of boot volume. It’s not the same C3 as in Europe. It’s got a smaller 30-litre fuel-tank and has a made-for-India engine with a for-India state of tune. It’s a smart car.

Citroen C3

The cabin looks built to a cost but it doesn’t feel that way. There are two trim levels, called, coincidentally, “Live” and “Feel”. This is the latter. It brings more kit and more punch. The wheel is not too large and the driver info display is a simple monochrome unit with basic information, including a gear display and shift indicator. The large and intuitive 10.2-inch Citroen Connect touchscreen uses Mirror Screen technology which mirrors all smartphone functions. It also offers wireless compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, making for easy access to multimedia and apps, or just the usual smartphone features directly via the high-resolution touchscreen.

Citroen C3

The upholstery is an interplay of light grey and nearly black grey fabric with a neat coppery orange contrast stitching. The front seats offer adequate support and the driver seat is height-adjustable. There is enough space around with door-pockets and cubbyholes, plus a centre storage. The plastics—dashboard, panels, centre console, and stalks on the steering column—feel up to the mark and not tacky. Overall, the fit and finish are more than decent. The evident incidence of keeping costs in check comes with the pegs for the adjustment of the outside mirrors. The rear seats, like the front pair, offer adequate support and good room. This is partially due to the thinner front seat-backs. More evidence of cost-cutting comes in the form of no-adjustable integrated head-rests for all seats. The C3 does get ABS, a seatbelt reminder, dual front airbags, speed-sensitive door locks, and rear parking sensors as standard fare. The rear hatch is rather light which makes for easier access to the cargo space. Now, on to the drive.

Citroen C3

More on page 2 >

 

About the author: Jim Gorde

 

Deputy Editor at Car India and Bike India.
Believes that learning never stops, and that diesel plug-in hybrids are the only feasible future.
t: @CarIndia/@BikeIndia
IG: @carindia_mag/@bikeindia

 

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