Thursday, September 21, 2017
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A Citroen love story

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The lights were red and my Citroen C3 slowed to take its place in the traffic.

As I drove slowly up to the lights, I was suddenly aware of eyes peering at the review car I was driving. The other driver slowed down, almost came to a standstill and took a good look at what was now in front of them.

Two Citroens were now side by side – one old, one new.

The Citroen DS3 owner-enthusiast driving past was suddenly taken with the bright blue of the Citroen C3 waiting at the lights on Cameron Rd.

The other Citroen driver was clearly taken with the new funky-looking Citroen on show.  
And that’s the way it is for Citroen, they aren’t just a car, they are a statement. They say to the world, ‘you don’t want normal, you want European flair and design’ and just a bit of the funky zaniness that Citroen became famous for.

For the other Citroen driver it was probably love at first sight.

Coup de foudre!



Citroen – beginner’s guide

I approached the Citroen C3 with some curiosity. This time I needed help. I was accompanied by a friend who is a true Citroen-ophile – he has owned nine, driven many more, and well and truly understands the company’s rich history and tradition of design, innovation and drive qualities.

Citroens have always built cars with genuine French flair.

This is European motoring, Citroen-style – it’s not for those who prefer Japanese rides that will get drivers from A to B, somewhat anonymously.

No one will slow down at the lights for a closer look at the ordinary. That’s Citroen’s brand appeal – it drives commitment and attachment, owner/driver sentiments seldom found with other mainstream marques.

Many will own Citroen for life, such is the appeal.



Citroen shape and style

The Citroen C3’s silhouette is entirely conventional; it could be from any number of today’s car companies. The shape can be described as having somewhat typical curves in the super mini class, which in this highly competitive class is no bad thing.

It’s a five-door rounded hatch, one that is refreshingly free from the excessive creases, slashes and tacked-on fake vents that ruin otherwise acceptable designs.

It’s only the nose that brings a hint of Citroen design, along with the two-tone colour scheme which reflects Citroen heritage with contrasting roof colour and mirrors and even extends to the front fog light surrounds.

This contrasting colour scheme won’t necessarily be to everyone’s choice and there is a less ‘funky’ version available, but the urban look of this version will be what attracts most people to consider the C3.



Another unusual feature is the black ‘Airbump’ panels carried over from the C4 Cactus. These are intended to protect from damage and dings from supermarket trolleys, opening doors and road debris.

The Airbumps are a welcome Citroen addition to try to keep door panels in shape.

These and other design elements reflect Citroen’s efforts to bring the C4 DNA design concept down to the C3 and keep the Citroen line-up connected throughout the range.
French inside and out

The C3 interior is light and once again is not an experience which could be confused with the normal and boring choices in this sector. The continuation of the design themes from the outside highlighting the rounded ‘square’ have been continued inside the cabin which gives a funky modern look, while staying very functional. The interior also features a six-speaker audio system with both USB and AUX jacks and a six- airbag system and auto air conditioning.

The C3 carries conventional gauges that are clear and effective, but most minor controls are via touch screen which may take a while to adapt to after conventional switch gear, but this is a thoroughly modern car so reflects more the way forward rather than what we have expected in the past. After becoming familiar with the controls, this is easy to navigate and becomes quite intuitive.

For drivers new to the European ride, the indicators and wipers functions are reversed from the ‘normal’ positions many drivers are used to. Be warned before you click the indicators only to have the windscreen wipers come on!

The C3 is also equipped with stop/start technology which is now commonplace and has keyless entry and start technology as standard.

Reversing camera, rear sensors and Smartlink connection for Navigation are also standard features, along with LED daytime running lights, all of which make our urban lives that much easier.



Under the hood

The Citroen three-cylinder turbo engine is highly praised with a string of ‘best engine’ awards to its credit.

It is simply one of the best engines on offer.

As we started the engine and drove away, the first impression based on engine growl was that it was a diesel. We were wrong, but three cylinders make for a characterful-sounding engine note that drivers may be unused to given more conventional designs, but is one which seems to fit the feel and character of this very cool French hipster.

The turbo is excellent with no turbo lag whatsoever.

The immediate torque spec at 205Nm at 1500rpm explains the C3’s sprightliness around town.

The 81kw and 110bhp is also impressive, produced at a surprisingly low 5500rpm red line. This is a perky engine with more off-the-line pick-up than drivers might think a three-cylinder car is capable of producing let alone cars with much bigger displacements to play with.

 The on-road performance is more than ample for most round-town driving and with the high torque coming in low in the rev range and extending up near the red line, this engine is more than a match for the Kaimai Ranges or any passing lane manoeuvre.  

The super-smooth six-speed automatic transmission means there’s always optimum ratio to get the job done with great fuel economy rated at 6.1/100km (urban) and 4.2/100km (highway). With just on 2000rpm showing at 100kph this is a relaxed cruiser when the open road calls.

French flair final thoughts

The driving experience is easily described as being a fun and responsive ride, with enough driver comforts, including cruise control with speed limiter, to let the driver enjoy the C3.

It is aimed at the driver wanting something different, something that says ‘I want some fun in my life and I choose French design and flair’.

And whether you own a Citroen or not, you’re going to notice the funky C3 when it’s stopped at the lights!



Engine: 1.21 turbo high pressure petrol engine
Power: 81kw(110bhp) @ 5500rpm.
Transmission: EAT 6-speed
Torque: 205Nm @ 1500rpm
Price: $26,990 (incl GST) plus ORC.

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