BRIGHT AS A BUTTON: NEW CITROEN C3

Citroen_C3_front
And now for something completely different. The bright and breezy all-new Citroen C3 not only comes in a range of colourful shades, but also has styling that’s well away from the mainstream.

Regular readers will be well aware of my muttering about the 500 shades of grey dominating our roads and car park. Saying it’s like living in a black and white movie.

Well Citroen has done something about it. Just look at the colour palette: Ruby Red, Almond Green, Cobalt Blue, Power Orange, Sand, Polar White, Perla Nera Black, Platinum Grey, Aluminium Grey.

There are three roof colours: Opal White, Onyx Black and Sport Red. Making for 33 possible colour combinations.

Colour choice goes beyond the body and roof, with the roof colour able to be repeated in the front foglight surrounds, the Airbump surrounds, the door mirror shells and the rear window trim.

Mix this with a variety of upmarket interior trims and you can have a Citroen C3 that may well be unique to you.

Citroen_C3_rear

It’s not only the visual splendour on offer that appeals in the C3, the styling exhibits an abundance of French flair. The side ‘Airbumps’, first seen on the Citroen Cactus, are hugely practical, especially if you’re leaving your car in public carparks that seem to have skinnier spots by the day.

The Citroen interlocking-gears badge sits in the centre of brightwork that spreads across the front of the car to join the daytime running lights.

One feature we do not like is the built in dash-cam. While this can be very useful in providing evidence to police and insurance companies the Citroen unit also permits the driver to take photographs and videos while driving and sending them on to friends.

Okay, so the driver has to tap a button to say they are a passenger, not a driver. Yeah, sure…

Citroen_C3_interior

Under new management in Australia, Citroen is clearly not interested in going for the stripped-down end of the price scale. Instead it is importing a single model, the C3 Shine, with a high level of standard features. These include 17-inch alloy wheels, climate control, mirroring of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto by way of a 7-inch touchscreen, automatic lights and wipers, a reversing camera and an extensive safety package.

Only the topline powertrain, a 1.2-litre turbo-petrol three-cylinder with a six-speed automatic transmission comes to Australia. The engine puts out 81 kilowatts of power, and a handy 205 N

ewton metres of torque from a low 1500 revs.

The Citroen C3 Shine has a recommended retail price of $23,490. It is offered with a driveaway price of $26,990 – but only until March 31.

Citroen C3 Shine is competing against other European small cars, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, Skoda Fabia and VW Polo, as well as a plethora of Asian models, including Suzuki Swift and Toyota Yaris. All of which have similar prices to the new C3 when equipment is taken into account

There’s a five-year, unlimited distance warranty.

DRIVING
Citroen setup a realistic driving program as part of the media launch. This involved serious Sydney traffic, a long slow grind through the polluted M5 tunnel – and finally into the gorgeous southern highlands, with lunch stop at the Thirlmere Railway Museum (heaven for us car guys!). Then a return trip by the south coast and through the Royal National Park.

The little C3 was everything we expected from a Citroen; well designed seats (though there’s not a lot of legroom in the back), a smooth and comfortable ride, and good steering feel that communicates well through the steering wheel.

However, our test car did get caught out by some deep holes in the road caused by recent heavy rains.

The 1.2-litre turbocharged triple has the sort of feel and sound that really appeals to keen drivers. Performance is good without being in any way exciting, the six-speed automatic is quick to respond to throttle input and can be changed manually through the gearlever. Shift paddles would be nice, though…

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