The updated Citroën C3 looks sharp and drives hard
Here's what's new about the enhanced-for-2021 model
Ardent Francophiles probably get really peeved when the spectrum of all things French is reduced to certain clichés. Cue the accordion music, imagery of the Eiffel Tower and cobblestoned Parisian walkways, with a Citroën 2CV inevitably parked somewhere in there.
You can find all three of these things at a themed venue aptly named "Little Paris" out in North West. This truly unlikely setting for such a joint was one of our stops on the launch of the updated Citroën C3 last week.
The current, third-generation car recently broke the million-unit mark at the Slovakian factory of build, while Citroën says it ranks among the top three bestselling models in its segment in the major European markets. It is the bestselling model within the portfolio. Although it is categorised as a B-segment hatchback, the C3 is imbued with crossover-type styling accoutrements.
The enhanced-for-2021 C3 is not dramatically different from the car introduced globally in 2016 and locally in October 2019. Subtly revised frontal styling is really the extent of it.
In the basic Feel model (R269,900) power comes from a normally aspirated, 1.2-litre with three cylinders (60kW and 118Nm). This is paired with a five-speed manual. It rolls on 15-inch steel wheels (with covers) and features an audio system with Bluetooth, multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, front electric windows, air-conditioning and lane-departure warning system.
The Shine elevates stock with the fitment of a turbocharger to the same engine, bumping power to 81kW and torque to 205Nm. A six-speed automatic is the default transmission choice. It gains 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, with the all-important Android Auto and Apple Car Play.
Both grades are comprehensively equipped from a safety perspective, with anti-lock brakes, electronic stability programme, six airbags, ISOFIX mountings, tyre pressure monitor and fatigue detection system. In 2017 EuroNCAP awarded it a four-star crash test rating.
We spent our time with the boosted Shine over a 180km route through city and countryside. Noticeable from the get-go was the thrumming nature of its little heart. It is a novel acoustic signature but can get fatiguing on the open road.
The Citroën seems to have a light, nimble nature, overlaid with a tangible coarseness: it feels somewhat harder than you would expect from a European compact car. Moreover, a Citroën, generally known for comfort.
But perhaps that has more to do with how exterior disturbances intrude the cabin, instead of the stiffness of the springs. The seats, meanwhile, are wide, square-shaped and plump with padding. Firm plastics abound through the cabin giving a sense that, while not plush, will be durable.
• A five-year/100,000km warranty, three-year/60,000km service plan and five-year/100,000km roadside assistance contract are included in the price.
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