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New models - Citroen - C3

Citroen C3 shadows up-spec Polo

Expensive taste: The C3's petrol engines require 95 RON premium unleaded fuel.

Citroen’s remade baby arrives looking better than ever but still at a grown-up price

Citroen logo1 Nov 2010

CITROEN’S completely redesigned C3 light car is charging towards a late-November rendezvous in Australia with a $19,990 starting point for the VT 1.4-litre manual.

Improved in every way over its eight-year-old predecessor, this places the second-generation five-door hatch-only French light-car right up against the Volkswagen Polo 77TSI (1.2L turbo) and Ford Fiesta Zetec (1.6L).

A $23,490 VTR+ 1.6-litre automatic will also be available, as will a VTR+ HDi diesel manual at $25,990, while the flagship model for now will be the C3 Exclusive in either $23,990 petrol auto or $26,490 HDi manual guises.

33 center imageThese prices undercut the C3’s previous $23,990 starting point earlier this year (stocks were exhausted by May), but are still significantly more expensive than entry level versions of the Polo (from $16,690 for the 1.4L manual three-door hatch) and Fiesta ($16,990 for the CL five-door), and far beyond the Mazda2, Hyundai i20, Suzuki Swift and Toyota Yaris.

Nevertheless, local Citroen importer Ateco will position the new C3 as a unique, low-emissions premium runabout with a few distinguishing features like an optional panoramic windscreen that – at 1.35 metres in length – is far and away the largest in its class.

In fact, at the car’s unveiling at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show, and combined with the latest C3’s slim pillars and deep side windows, the ‘Zenith’ windscreen was touted as adding “a touch of glass”.

Compared to before, refinement, quality, space, efficiency and performance were priorities for the newcomer, with a larger overall footprint, improved cabin space and better materials (such as a soft-feel dash top and much more sound deadening) said to be immediately apparent.

The cargo area jumps up to a competitive 300 litres, rectifying another of the old car’s failings.

Nevertheless, Citroen says it resisted the urge to grow as big as the Peugeot 207 with which it shares much of its (carried-over) architecture, coming in 90mm shorter – but without compromising on cabin room. Dimensions for length, width, height and wheelbase are 3941mm, 1728mm, 1524mm and 2451mm respectively.

Contrasting with the aerodynamically accomplished styling, the suspension is staple B-segment fare – albeit heavily revised to improve comfort and driving pleasure – comprising MacPherson struts up front and torsion beam at the rear.

The VT uses Citroen’s tried and trusted 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, developing just 54kW of power at 5200rpm and 118Nm of torque at 3300rpm.

Driving the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox, this Euro V emissions-rated engine requires 95 RON premium unleaded, takes 14.2 seconds to reach 100km/h, returns 6.3 litres per 100km and pumps out 145 grams per kilometre of CO2 emissions.

If you want an automatic you need to choose the VTR+ or Exclusive, but you only get a conventional four-speed auto (VW uses seven speeds in the Polo).

These models are powered by a 1.6-litre engine co-devised with BMW that delivers 88kW at 6000rpm and 160Nm at 4250rpm, again on 95 RON. It will hit the 0-100km/h-sprint time in 10.9s, returns 7.0L/100km and emits 160g/km of CO2.

Diesel diehards are again catered for with the 1.6-litre HDi, producing 66kW at 4000rpm and 215Nm at 1750rpm. Related to the powerplant found in the Fiesta TDCi, this five-speed manual-only model can reach 100km/h from standstill in 11.0s, and slashes fuel consumption and CO2 emissions to just 4.3L/100km and 110g/km respectively.

All C3s have gear-change light indicators to help reduce consumption and emissions, joining a legion of new features that include optional Bluetooth telephony, USB connectivity and a high-end audio system claimed to give “concert theatre-like sound quality”.

Body strength and rigidity have been improved, but it the C3 trails the Polo and some others in safety. While electronic stability control and ABS with EBD will be standard, upping the airbag count to six is optional on the VT since curtain devices (along with rear discs and cruise control) cost extra here.

2010 Citroen C3pricing:
VT 1.4 petrol$19,990
VTR+ 1.6 petrol (a)$23,490
VTR+ 1.6 diesel$23,990
Exclusive 1.6 petrol (a)$25,990
Exclusive 1.6 diesel$26,490

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