Somehow the latest version of Citroën’s likeable C3 small hatch/city car passed me by until lately, when a new trim level came to my attention. This is usually nothing to make a huge fuss about, and this time it’s not different, but it’s of interest nonetheless.
Citroën are now pushing the “C-series” version of their C3, its more expensive baby SUV sibling the C3 Aircross, and the medium-sized (by modern standards) C5 Aircross SUV. The C-Series, in pricing terms, is the new base model of each, but with the most popular options fitted to each, rather than some random bundle selected by the manufacturer, whether you like them or not. So it’s all about value, but not so much consumer choice.
Thus, although the options fitted to C-Series models are generally the ones folk want, they’re not necessarily the ones you, or I want. So although my C3 came well kitted out with LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, dark tinted rear and tailgate windows, automatic headlights, automatic air conditioning, coffee break alert, lane departure warning, cruise control, speed sign recognition, rear parking sensors, a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple Carplay®, Android Auto, DAB Radio and USB all as standard it didn’t have the one thing that I really need on a car these days, which is a conventional built-in satnav system.
Citroen C3 1.2 PureTech C-Series
Engine capacity: 1.2-litre petrol motor, 5sp manual, fwd
Power (hp): 82
Top speed: 105mph
Fuel economy: 51.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 123g/km
I have lost all sense of direction since the arrival of the satnav because I no longer need to think about where I’m going. The nice machines with (usually) the calm female voice tells me to “turn round when possible”, “turn left in 200 yards” and “you have reached your destination” complete with graphic back-up. On the Citroën C3 C-Series you have to do something with your mobile phone which I didn’t know how to, and thus it was functionally useless to me except for the purposes of going out and following my nose, which I’ve not done in a while.
The little Citroën is in fact great to allow your nose to pilot, in that cheap French car sort of way that, I’m pleased to say, has survived all attempts to make the brand upmarket (they even have trim pack called “Saint James”; next one up ought to be “Saint James the Greater”). The three-cylinder engine has to be worked hard to get even modest performance out of it, the gears are a touch vague, the clutch is ridiculously long and it rolls around a fair bit, and that’s all great.
Citroën also happens to have a big comfy SUV to point around at the same time, and, given the choice as I was, I instinctively picked the C3 because I’d got bored having to wait to pass down a narrow city street or country lane. I also liked Citroën’s new stylish tweed seat trim, which matched my jacket and went well with the trendy “soft sand” non-metallic paint job. The odd graphics on the roof, which looked like a new-entrant mobile phone company logo, was just style with no purpose.
So modern is the C3 C-Series that you’re supposed to buy it from the online Citroën Store, though, confusingly, you can also buy it in the usual way from a dealer. It certainly feels odd to “add to basket” a £13,930 car, but I notice that that’s a small discount on the regular list price of this base or entry-level C3, of £14,180. The Citroën Store deal equates to a lease deal of £184.95 a month (with the usual strings attached).
The C3 should commend itself to anyone who once had, say, a Peugeot 205, 206 or 207, or a Citroën Saxo, say, or a Renault Clio; but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Kia Picanto is probably even better value, and the Dacia Sandero gives you a lot more sleaze for your money. Interestingly, a revamped C3 specifically aimed at India and South America has just been unveiled, and it’d be nice to think that that presumably rugged and value-oriented model might come to Britain. Either way, though, the good news is that base level cars are, well, not that basic.