Driving the C3 is a bit like sitting in a comfortable armchair in your living room – it’s quiet and relaxing, but in no way exciting, and the basic petrol engine is slow
The C3 is available with three petrol engines and a choice of two diesels.
The petrols are basically the same 1.2-litre PureTech, but tuned to produce 68, 82 or 110hp. Even in the small C3 the 68hp motor feels underpowered so you’re better of choosing between the other two.
The 82hp model is perfectly adequate in town, but if you often venture further afield then go for the turbocharged 110hp version – it feels quite nippy for a car this size. It’s the only model available with Citroen six-speed automatic gearbox that changes gear smoothly and isn’t jerky at low speeds in town like the one you can get in the SEAT Ibiza.
The C3 drives like a motorised sofa with suspension composed of blancmange – it’s comfortable, but not what you’d call agile
Even with the automatic gearbox fitted, the C3 will return 60mpg, officially, or about 50mpg in the real world with a light right foot.
Making a case for one of the 1.6-litre diesels isn’t easy when the petrols already deliver such decent fuel economy. Diesels come in pedestrian 75hp or punchy 100hp forms and should both be capable of more than 70mpg, but you’ll have to live on the motorway to make up the £1,500 premium they cost over the equivalent petrol.
The C3’s front seats feel like one half of a big comfy sofa, which helps take the edge off long journeys. They’re a nice match for the Citroen’s soft suspension and quiet interior.
The flipside is that it doesn’t feel as at home on twisting country roads as, say, a Ford Fiesta. Its suspension leans in bends (not helped by the seats’ lack of lateral support) so if you whip into a corner too enthusiastically it feels like you need hang on to the steering wheel to avoid getting slung out of your seat.
Luckily, the light steering and slushy gearbox action (that feels a bit like stirring cake mix) don’t really encourage that kind of driving.
That said, you’ll be thankful for the that steering when you’re making tight manoeuvres in town. The C3 has an upright driving position that gives you a good view out the front of the car that isn’t impeded too much by the thin pillar that runs up the sides of the windscreen. The back window seems quite small though, which causes a large blind spot towards the rear corners of the car.
That can make reversing into tight spaces quite tricky, although top-of-the-range Flair models solve this with a reversing camera and parking sensors. They’re a £500 option on mid-range Feel cars.
Top-of-the-range Flair models also offer a feature that is unique to the C3 – called ConnectedCam. It constantly films the view out the front as you’re driving along and can record the first 30 seconds up to an accident. Unfortunately, the C3 only scored four stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP in 2017, compared to the SEAT Ibiza’s five stars.