Citroen C3 1.6 HDi Airdream+ 5dr

June 2010

picture of car from the front

C3 Airdream+ is the first sub 100g/km CO2 Citroen


Overall Rating 8Overall rating

Value for money Rating 9Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 9Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 8Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 7Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 7Car safety


  • Excellent real world economy
  • Sharp styling inside and out
  • Excellent visibility
  • Decent rear legroom


  • Not the slickest gearbox in the class
  • Very small glovebox
  • Slightly spongy cornering character
  • Fiddly entertainment controls spoil excellent control layout

As is now common-place in the compact hatchback segment, Citroen has developed a high efficiency version of the new C3 model with the aim of avoiding road tax charges for customers. The 99g/km CO2 producing C3 Airdream+ competes with similarly emitting small hatchback models from rival manufacturers.

An-ultra low-emissions model is a must have for manufacturer's serious about making a dent in the compact hatchback segment, and with the new C3 model already boasting strong credentials in the sector it was a natural move for Citroen to introduce such a model. The C3 Airdream+ is the French manufacturer's first sub-100g/km CO2 emitting vehicle.

The excellent emissions and related fuel consumption figures are achieved through the use of a detuned version of the 1.6-litre 16-valve HDi unit, producing 90bhp. Combined with a longer-geared five-speed manual transmission and Michelin energy-saving tyres the unit still proves more than capable of offering respectable acceleration and performance. A diesel particulate filter is also employed.

Similarly, the Airdream+ variant is not frugally equipped, instead being based on the mid-level VTR+ model, but adding reversing sensors, Bluetooth and a USB input to the specification. Air-con, electric windows and trip computer are all standard, too.

The Airdream+ also benefits from the key features of the rest of the range, including a recessed dash design that allows for greater legroom for front and rear passengers, the huge Zenith windscreen which provides excellent visibility and a light, airy feel and the most spacious boot in its class.

Our verdict on the Citroen C3 1.6 HDi Airdream+ 5dr

An excellent all-round package, the C3's appeal is enhanced in Airdream+ form through a well-judged combination of efficiency and specification. Owners will certainly not feel short-changed in either department and impressive refinement and respectable performance and road manners seal the deal.

Costs rating 9

The C3 Airdream is priced at a premium over other models in the range but the excellent fuel economy, extremely low tax banding and impressive level of equipment makes it a premium worth considering. Insurance ratings are also low and servicing packs are available from Citroen, too.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 8

Although not the largest vehicle in its class in terms of exterior dimensions, the C3 can boast the largest boot. Combined with the good size rear hatch and 60/40 folding rear seat arrangement it's a practical small car. Space for passengers is improved through a recessed dash assembly allowing the front passenger seat to be moved forward without compromise, freeing up additional legroom in the rear. This impacts on the size of the glovebox, however, which is very small. Respectable door pockets make up for it in part.

picture of car from the rear

Sleek styling offers spacious interior

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

With the exception of the centre console audio equipment, which adheres to the small and fiddly form of other Citroen models, the C3's controls are a definite triumph. A three-dial display perfectly fuses analogue with digital, the steering wheel is fully adjustable and the gear lever nicely positioned. Electronic window switches are angled towards the occupants for ease of use and cruise control, speed limiter and additional audio controls are mounted behind the steering wheel in a natural-to-use position. A gear shift indicator is also present to aid economical driving.

Comfort Rating 7

Very reasonable specification in the Airdream+ model adds to the C3's comfort levels and the cabin refinement is impressive, with road and engine noise well restrained. The compliant ride also aids passenger comfort and soft touch plastics add to the sense of ease inside the cabin. Air-conditioning with a scented air freshener is an excellent idea.

Car security
Security Rating 7

Remote central locking with deadlocks is standard equipment as is an immobiliser, but no alarm is present. Automatic door locking is activated when the car moves and the doors will automatically relock after 30 seconds if the car is left undisturbed.

Car safety
Safety Rating 7

Six airbags and a reinforced safety cell are standard fair for all C3 models - the Airdream+ also gets curtain airbags. ABS with brake-force distribution is standard equipment but ESP is only available as an option. As speed limiter is present and hazard lights flash under heavy braking to warn following cars.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 5

The diesel versions of the C3 actually offer a more impressive driving experience than petrol variants and, despite the focus on efficiency, the 1.6HDi Airdream+ is no different. The 90bhp unit offers very reasonable performance for a compact hatchback and there's little need to adjust driving style to reap efficiency rewards. The ride is very compliant which translates to a slight sloppiness in the corners, although the handling remains consistent and assured. The steering feels well-weighted although the gear change is not as precise as some rivals.

picture of car interior

Zenith windscreen dominates the interior

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 7

The C3 scores well as a small family hatchback. The rear will accept two child seats with Isofix mounts on the outer seats and the five-door format means access to the rear is very good. A spacious boot adds to the family appeal and the improved quality interior seems suitably hardwearing. Children and adults will appreciate the Zenith windscreen, bringing light and greater visibility to the interior.

First car appeal
First car Rating 9

The C3 offers an excellent mix of qualities for a young driver or first time car buyer and the increased efficiency and reduced running costs of the Airdream model boost that appeal. Particularly easy to drive and live with around town, it's also ideal for the inexperienced driver.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 6

The new C3 is a big step up in terms of quality. The interior in particular features better quality materials and a more upmarket layout and feel. Recent improvements in the French manufacturer's track record for reliability mean the new C3 should be held in higher esteem while a vibrant, modern exterior design give it additional kerb appeal.

Accessibility Rating

Despite a more compact body than many of its key rivals the C3 doesn't suffer for accessibility. Front and rear door length is evenly distributed and the dome body shape means the passenger compartment is tall. The doors open to a decent angle and offer a very reasonable portal. At the rear, the hatch is wide and uniform making for decent boot access.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The standard six-speaker CD and radio assembly is adequate for a car in this class and the addition of Bluetooth and a USB socket adds extra appeal. Sat-nav is not available with the Airdream+ model, however.

picture of car in detail

Chrome finish for the gear lever adds some class

Colours and trim

The days when efficiency meant austerity are banished by the C3 Airdream+, which comes equipped with a leather steering wheel, high quality cloth interior and the same soft touch plastics as the rest of the C3 range. There's also a chrome finish to the lower section of the dash and around the gear lever. Outside, 15-inch alloy wheels and body-coloured extremities add a touch of sophistication.


The C3 poses no problems when it comes to parking, and reversing sensors are included as standard. A more compact body than many of its rivals allows for easily slipping into small spaces and a good turning circle and very light steering aid manoeuvrability. Visibility is excellent all-round.

Spare wheel

Emergency tyre repair kit in lieu of spare wheel.


Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.1-litre (60bhp); 1.4-litre (74 and 94bhp); 1.6-litre (118bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.4-litre (69bhp); 1.6-litre (89 and 108bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual gearbox, six-speed manual gearbox, four-speed automatic gearbox. Trim levels: VT, VTR+, Exclusive, Airdream+.


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June 2010