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Driven: More safety coming for Citroen C3

Say cheese: The C3 is the first vehicle in Australia to be sold with an on-board dash-cam.

AEB and upgraded driver-assist tech expected for 2019 upgrade of Citroen C3

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Citroen logo15 Mar 2018

CITROEN Australia is expected to introduce an updated version of its freshly launched C3 light hatch before the end of this year, that will usher in autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and other active safety gear.

The new-generation C3 went on sale in November last year but was only launched to the media this week, and it has a higher-than-anticipated pricetag of $23,490 plus on-road costs, which is $500 more than the $22,990 price announced in October.

However, while more driver-assist technology will help justify the higher pricetag for the single-variant C3 Shine automatic, there are currently no plans for a more basic variant to take on the lower-priced Volkswagen Polo, Skoda Fabia, Suzuki Swift and Mazda2 that the Slovakian-built Citroen is competing against.

Peugeot Citroen Australia (PCA) national PR and corporate affairs manager Tyson Bowen told GoAuto that AEB was not initially available for Australian-spec versions of the C3.

“(AEB) has only recently became available in Europe, so we’re talking to PSA about the timing for that getting here,” he said. “It was unavailable at the time the C3 was launched in Australia late last year.”

The C3 has not yet been tested by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), but it did score four stars in the Euro NCAP test last year.

Under the latest ANCAP rules, any vehicle that goes on sale after January 1, 2018 that is not fitted with AEB is not eligible for a top five-star rating.

Given that the C3 went on sale in Australia last year, it is unlikely that it would be tested against the new criteria.

Citroen says the C3’s strong specification levels, that includes 17-inch alloy wheels, lane-departure warning, driver-attention alert, climate-control air-conditioning, auto on/off lights and wipers, rear parking sensors and a 7.0-inch touchscreen offering Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, will help sweeten the deal for buyers who cross-shop with rival brands.

It is also counting on the newcomer’s unique features, such as Australia’s first in-built dash-cam option (for $600), speed road-sign recognition and design features such as the side Airbump door protectors, luggage-style door straps, bi-level lighting design signatures and 33 colour customisation combinations, to appeal to consumers seeking a more premium European experience.

Mr Bowen said PCA’s research suggested that Australian buyers were not drawn to a cheaper, stripped-out Citroen.

“The data suggests there is no appetite for such a vehicle locally,” he said.

“(Our experience has been that) when we come out with a (lower) price-point car in the market, nobody buys it.

“Buyers want a car that says something about that person, it’s about their individuality, and they actively choose something with design and technology… we can show you pictures of what that price-point car looks like, but quite frankly for this market it’s not what Citroen’s about.”

While PCA declined to divulge C3 sales targets, it acknowledged that sales would be low as local importer Inchcape is only now turning its attention and resources to boosting Citroen’s fortunes in Australia, after focusing on launching the Peugeot 3008 and 5008 SUVs.

“It’s been just nine months, and in that nine months we’ve tackled dealer, warranty, value and all the other stuff with Peugeot… and now it’s Citroen’s turn,” Mr Bowen said.

Based on the PSA A architecture – a derivative of the PF1 platform that also underpins the Citroen C4 Cactus as well as Peugeot’s 208 and 2008 ­– the third-generation C3 was revealed in France in mid 2016.

The only engine on offer is the PSA’s PureTech 1.2 e-THP 110, a Euro 6-1.2-litre three-cylinder all-alloy turbocharged petrol unit fitted to most 208s as well as the other PSA A vehicles.

In this guise it pumps out 81kW of power at 5500rpm and 205Nm of torque at 1500rpm, and drives the front wheels via an Aisin-built EAT6 six-speed torque converter automatic transmission.

Tipping the scales at 1090kg, the C3 hits 100km/h from standstill in 9.8 seconds, on the way to a 188km/h top speed. Assisted by direct injection and idle-stop technology, it averages fuel consumption of 4.9 litres per 100km (on premium 95 RON or higher), for a 110g/km carbon dioxide emissions rating.

Despite the offbeat styling flourishes, convention reigns underneath for the suspension setup, with MacPherson-style struts up front and a torsion beam rear axle.

It measures 3996mm long, 1749mm wide and 1474mm high, while the wheelbase comes in at 2540mm. The new C3 is larger and roomier (if lower) overall than the previous-gen C3 sold in Australia until 2015, it is also 75kg lighter. Aero enhancements also see the drag co-efficiency fall to 0.31Cd.

Variable electric power steering is fitted, as are four-wheel disc brakes (266mm x 22mm ventilated front and 249mm x 9mm solid on the rear axle.

Cargo volume is still rated at 300 litres, or 922L with the split/fold backrest folded. Unlike some light hatches, the back cushion is fixed, so a flat front-seat-to-cargo-rear floor is not possible.

Citroen has talked up how quiet the new C3 is, due to the Citroen Advanced Comfort Programme, which includes specially designed seating that offers improved lumbar support, as well as increased space within the cabin over the old model thanks to a less-intrusive dashboard.

The interior can be specified in a trio of trim and material accents, boasting grey, red or orange highlights. This matches the exterior personalisation processes, which includes a selection of nine colours, offset by contrasting door mirrors, foglight surrounds, Airbump and rear quarter panels, all matched to the roof colour that can be body coloured, white or black. Black or silver wheels can also be chosen.

Options include Almond green solid paint ($290), metallic paint ($590), Urban Red interior atmosphere ($150), Hype Colorado interior atmosphere ($400) and a panoramic glass roof ($600).

The aforementioned dash cam – known as ConnectedCam in Citroen-speak – includes an integrated camera that films uploadable and shareable on-road experiences.

Employing a 120-degree wide-angle high-definition (HD) camera lens with GPS and 16GB memory, it will automatically record for 30 seconds before and 60 seconds after an accident, and can be used as evidence for insurance and other related purposes.

Finally, the C3 comes with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and five-year roadside assist program. Until March 31, PCA is also offering a $26,990 driveaway offer that also includes metallic paint.

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