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First look: Citroen’s ‘high forehead’ C3 breaks cover

Panoramic: The new Citroen C3's windscreen is sky-high on visability.

Citroen breaks the mould with distinctive extended windscreen for C3 due next year

29 Jun 2009

A HUGE windscreen that extends well into the roof is the defining feature of the new Citroen C3 light car, scheduled to come to Australia in May 2010.

Citroen also revealed it will launch a new range of environmentally-friendly three-cylinder diesel engines in 2011.

First pictures of the innovative new city runabout were revealed today, well ahead of an expected show debut at Frankfurt in September this year, which will be followed by the official European launch in November.

Extending over the roof beyond the line of the front doors and covering the front passengers, Citroen’s so-called ‘Zenith’ windscreen has the interior rear vision mirror located in the middle of the glass and graduated tinting so that the occupants are not hit from above by unfiltered sunlight.

The extended “high forehead” windscreen design was pioneered on the French car-maker’s C4 Picasso compact people-mover and has been applied to a small car for the first time with the C3.

The new C3 will now undergo more than two million kilometres of on-road testing before the market release and will be built at Citroen’s Aulnay and Poissy plants in France.

Citroen claims the new model is more aerodynamic (0.30cD) and will weigh no more than the current C3, despite being slightly bigger and carrying more equipment, enabling the four-cylinder HDi 90 DPFS model to be launched with a CO2 figure of only 99g/km.

33 center imageFurthermore, the French car giant says fuel consumption will fall to market-leading levels with the arrival of the new three-cylinder diesels in 2011, incorporating second-generation idle-stop technology (which automatically switches off the engine when the car stops), coupled with five- and six-speed electronic transmissions to produce carbon dioxide emissions of 95g/km and 90g/km respectively.

Few other mechanical details were revealed, but we expect the current 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre offerings in both petrol and diesel to continue, though only the larger size now makes it to Australia.

Dimensionally, the new C3 is slightly larger than the current model, being 117mm longer at 3940mm and 46mm wider at 1710mm.

Citroen says the car’s 10.2-metre turning circle makes it perfect for the city, but that does not seem all that tight to us considering the Toyota Yaris can do a U-turn in 9.4 metres.

Offering the new C3 as a family car, Citroen claims the latest generation is more spacious and offers occupants more knee room, addressing criticism of rear seat space in the current model, an “optimised” boot capacity of 300 litres, medium-height seats facilitating access and visibility and numerous storage spaces.

While Citroen boasts “a sportier edge with tauter, smoother lines”, the new C3 is clearly based on the current model, but with a totally reworked front end that was previewed in the form of the DS3 concept car at this year’s Geneva motor show.

As well as having more modern headlights, the previous conventional grille is replaced by a large, chrome-rimmed split air intake in the style of Audi and Mazda, while the smooth side is unfettered by rubbing strips and leads to a more bulbous rear end with new tail-lights.

The chrome-topped Zenith windscreen is described by the French as a technological feat that expands the front occupants’ field of vision by 80 degrees upwards, offering more visibility and light for extra safety and driving pleasure.

The progressive glass is claimed to be a world first and “smoothes the transition from the strong sun protection above the front passengers to the standard clear glass for looking forwards”.

Interior features include an MP3-compatible audio system with a USB box that includes a USB slot and jack, full iPod compatibility and a Bluetooth hands-free kit, an optional HiFi surround-sound system, the availability of satellite navigation and, of course, standard fitment of Citroen’s familiar on-board air-freshener.

Having sold more than two million examples of the current model since it was introduced in 2002, the new C3 is vital to Citroen’s future, especially in Europe.

Citroen managing director Frédéric Banzet said the C3 had been one of the company’s most successful models, boasting innovations in styling, technology, equipment and weight saving.

“This is a major renewal for Citroen and gives us the wherewithal to achieve our target of increasing market share, among both individual and corporate customers,” said Mr Banzet.

“The new C3 is packed with seductive features (such as) tauter styling, high-class trim, intelligent architecture creating exceptional interior space in what is still one of the most compact vehicles on the market, and superior on-board comfort and road handling, both in the city and on the open road.

“With the most advanced features in the segment, the new Citroën C3 will be ideal as the main family car or core fleet vehicle.”

The C3 last year racked up only 423 sales in Australia – down 39.2 per cent on the previous year – while the rival Peugeot 207 scored some 1625 sales to easily win the segment for light cars priced over $25,000.

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