Citroen C3 VTR

It’s been said that there’s no such thing as a bad car anymore. Regardless of what you’ve got, or how much you paid for it the chances are your car is comfortable, safe and reliable. No matter how much you abuse it, it starts in the morning. Whether you wash it or not, it doesn’t rust. Love it or hate it your car does exactly what you bought it for; it transports you in relative comfort, reliably, whenever you call upon it to do so.

And that’s all down to technology: Whether you drive a supermini or a supercar you can rest assured that an army of sensors and electrickery will keep you safe, warm, and more often than not on the straight and narrow. Motor manufacturers the world over spend millions developing things you will never see and yet unknowingly use everyday, every time you drive your car.

If the car in question happens to be Citroens’s C3 and it’s fitted with all-new three-cylinder petrol engine, just stop for a moment before turning the ignition key to consider this: 52 patents were awarded to that little motor, 17 to it’s cylinder head alone. It may only have 82bhp but it’ s got 4 valves per cylinder, it’s cast from aluminium alloys and it’s even got variable valve timing. All this, Citroen claim, means that compared to a more traditional four-cylinder lump internal friction losses are down by 30%.

And that’s not all. Not only does this little motor engine promise to be as economical as a diesel, it’s quieter and also less mechanically complex. And that’s before we include such cleverness as an alternator that can be declutched under acceleration to reduce load and therefore emissions, not to mention a cambelt that’s lubricated and has been designed to last the lifetime of the car.

So, then, the engine is a gem. But what, you’re wondering, is the rest of the C3 like?

Well, if you’re in the market for small easy-to-live-with hatchback to tootle ‘round town in the C3 will suit you fine. Visibility is excellent, especially if opted for the (optional) Zenith panoramic screen that extends up and over both driver and passenger. It floods the interior with light, giving you a feeling more akin to piloting a mini submarine; either that, or that you’re sat in an enormous motorcycle helmet. From the inside it’s great but it does, strangely, make the C3’s “face” look like it’s suffering from a receding hair-line when viewed from outside.

It’s when the going quickens however that the C3 looses its edge. The steering lacks any real feedback and does feel very light. The gear–shift too is a little vague. On more than one occasion I found myself selecting a “false neutral”. A sixth gear would also make a welcome addition as sadly the C3 only gets five forward ratios. There’s quite a lot of body roll too, amplified by a high seating position, and that’s after Citroen’s best efforts at stiffening their little car’s suspension.

Maybe though I’m being a little hard, perhaps my driving style is not like that of the C3’s target audience. On a straight road at a steady pace the C3’s interior, despite the use of some hard and brittle feeling plastics here and there, is not such a bad place to be. The boot’s not a bad size either, adding to the C3’s sense of practicality. It also gets a 4 star Euro NCAP rating.

So then, the C3 VTR is economical, it’s easy to live with and its engine is a gem. The downsides are it’s the most exciting car to drive and the quality of its interior can’t live up to that of its German rivals. Make no mistake C3 is by no means a bad car. But if it was my £13,640 about to be spent I’d always have nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, someone else was making a better one.

Citroen C3 VTR

Engine: 1199cc 3Cyl 12V petrol
Transmission: 5 speed Manual, front wheel drive.
Power:  82bhp @5750pm
Torque: 87 lbft @275rpm
0-62MPH: 14.2 sec
Max Speed: 108mph
CO2: 107g/km
MPG: 62.8 combined
Price: £13,640

Many thanks to Citroen’s UK press office for the loan of their C3



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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