Citroen C3 parked on a country road

Carparison take a drive in the Citroen C3

The Citroen C3 is a supermini with style. Available in a selection of body colours with optional colour packs, the rounded design, high and wide bonnet, and distinctive airbumps make for a hatch that is undeniably striking. Add in impressive comfort levels and nice standard features and you have a hatchback that is in high competition to the likes of the Renault Clio, Skoda Fabia, and Peugeot 208

Citroen C3 front view

Model Lines

There are 4 Citroen C3 model lines to choose from. We drove the C3 Flair, which has since been replaced by the Shine Plus. Here are some of the key features identified by Citroen, with prices correct at date of publication - April 2021

C-Series - From £14,000 

  • Parking sensors (rear)
  • Lane departure warning
  • 16-inch 'matrix' alloys
  • LED headlights and LED daytime running lights
  • 7-inch touchscreen
  • Onyx black roof
  • Electrically adjustable, heated folding door mirrors
  • Cruise control with speed limiter
  • Speed sign recognition

Sense - From £14,125 (in addition/replacement to C-Series)

  • 16-inch steel wheels
  • Auto Air-Con
  • Gloss black door mirrors
  • Black colour pack (black foglight surround and white Airbump capsule)

Shine - From £15,450 (in addition/replacement to Sense)

  • Visibility Pack - automatic rain-sensing front windscreen wipers, automatic lights
  • Roof coloured door mirrors
  • 16" "Hellix" diamond-cut alloy wheels

Shine Plus - From £17,050 (in addition/replacement to Shine)

  • Citroën Connect Box Emergency and Assistance system
  • Dark tinted rear windows
  • Reversing camera
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Sat Nav
  • 17" "Vector" diamond-cut alloy wheels
  • Front foglights

Find out how much a Citroen C3 is to lease with our latest Citroen C3 lease deals. 

Citroen C3 driving

Engines and the Drive 

The Citroen C3 engine selection is small yet efficient, with petrol variants ranging from 83 to 110 horsepower, and a diesel engine that offers an output of 100 horsepower. Engine choice is selective to model line, with manual and automatic options depending on model line also. 

The manual gearbox is a bit hard work, with quite short and stiff changes that make you long for the more refined gearbox in hatchbacks like the Ford Fiesta.

Whilst you’d initially think this car would excel in the city, I was actually more impressed with the Citroen's performance on the motorway. It picked up and held speed well and benefits from cruise control and a speed limiter as standard. 

It is, however, a little noisy on the road, and this car had a lane-keeping aid that only added to the noise if you went even marginally over the lines. The aid sounds more like an alarm clock than anything else, and it goes on for 3 or 4 seconds longer than you need it to. Better than no aid at all I suppose!

The Citroens' manoeuvrability isn’t anything to write home about, especially considering its compact size, though as you can expect, the C3 does work well if the only space available is a small one. It's also pretty fuel-efficient, with our 110 petrol variant averaging 46mpg throughout the test drive. 

Citroen C3 review

Design

If Citroen were taking Art at school and the C3 was a project, it would be getting top marks.

Those side airbumps, a less drastic variant of those on the Citroen C4 Cactus, create a robust and durable aesthetic, whilst doubling as a protector for everyday knocks and scrapes. A concept similar to that of the infamous Ford door protectors.

The wide, high bonnet creates a more imposing front end than you’d expect of a supermini, but coupled with the colourful inserts and LED headlights, the final result is a car that is cracking to look at.

Citroen C3 wheels and side
Citroen C3 Cabin

Inside, the funky design continues. In the case of the car we drove, it featured a grey/beige and tan contrast upholstery and trim that was either wood or crocodile effect - we couldn't quite tell which. But boring it certainly was not, and other options are available depending on the model you go for.

Rather than standard door handles, it featured grab handles more reminiscent of high-end luggage, and overall it’s a compact yet comfortable ambience that many will enjoy.

Citroen C3 rear view

Comfort and Practicality

The Citroen C3 gets a 300-litre capacity boot, which is pretty much in line with its competitors. The Ford Fiesta has the smallest boot of the lot at a 292-litre capacity, with the Renault Clio, Vauxhall Corsa, and Peugeot 208 offering 301, 309, and 311 litres respectively.

As you can see from these numbers, there’s not much in it at all when it comes to the small hatch’s practicality, with all of these cars showcasing a significant boot lip and seats that fold down in a 60:40 configuration, with the added step that comes with the seats folding down.

Citroen C3 rear view and boot space

Comfort-wise, Citroen claim in the C3 they have created one of the most comfortable hatchbacks on the market, and to be fair to them, they haven’t done a bad job at all. The seats are incredibly comfy, providing good support over longer journeys, though ultimately those taller passengers will find that the C3 lacks in both leg and headroom.

That being said, the C3 is practical enough, and should you wish for something with a little more space in the back as well as increased boot space, perhaps go for the bigger Citroen C3 Aircross, which is a compact SUV based on the C3.

Citroen C3 rear seats

Technology

The Citroen C3 gets a 7-inch touchscreen as standard with 6 speakers, DAB radio, media streaming, and just the 1 USB port. This top-spec model featured a good quality reversing camera, though all models get reversing sensors as standard – a nice bonus on what is a relatively inexpensive car.

All models also get (the aforementioned alarm clock) lane departure warning, cruise control, and a speed limiter. They also get electrically adjustable, heated folding door mirrors, though if you have short arms like me, you’re going to struggle to reach the controls for these whilst actually seated in your normal driving position.

Further up the model line-up, you have the chance to enjoy satellite navigation, the Citroën Connect Box Emergency and Assistance system, and a Visibility Pack, which gives you automatic rain-sensing front windscreen wipers and automatic lights.

Citroen C3 Touchscreen

Pretty much everything in terms of media is controlled via the central touchscreen, with only the radio controls being duplicated on the steering wheel.

Those who’ve read a lot of our reviews will have cottoned on by now to the fact that I’m not always a lover of a touchscreen or an infotainment system that relies solely on the use of one. Personally, I’d like there to be a few more tangible buttons, or for everyone to follow in the footsteps of the BMW 1 Series, and have a dial like the BMW iDrive system. There’s a nice one in the Mazda2 in fact.

Is this a dated view? Perhaps. But in the case of touchscreens like this, it’s a valid one. The C3 touchscreen is quite low down, meaning quite a lot of attention is taken away from the road to control it. Just make sure you set everything up (Sat Nav, phone, etc) before you set off, and then make minimal use of this on the road. That being said, and to end on a high note, I think that for the price the system in the C3 looks good, and provides a decent amount as standard. 

Citroen C3 Drivers Display

Final Verdict

Affordable monthly payments plus low running costs will make this car an attractive option for many. It looks fantastic on the road- vibrant and fun. It also offers a much wider range of bright colours for those who want a more customisable vehicle. Although the drive of this supermini is less refined than some of its competitors, the C3 has many redeeming features that make it a solid choice for those searching for their next small hatchback or city car lease.

If you’d like to find out more about a personal or business lease on a Citroen C3, just search our latest Citroen lease deals or get in touch with one of our leasing experts.