Car Test   R0253
July 2002
  Citroën C3
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.6 Exclusive 5door
Jostled by several equally new rivals, Citroën’s latest supermini, unlike it stablemates, isn’t a cut-price alternative – well not as yet. So what does it offer that the likes of the new Polo, Fiesta and Jazz lack?
   In the guise tested, it certainly offers an impressive turn of speed, with reasonable mechanical manners. The gears aren’t as super-smooth as a Polo’s or as switch-like as a Jazz’s, but Citroën has certainly come up with much improved seating.
   This includes a commanding driving position and even higher cushions than in a Peugeot 307 – almost MPV-like. Your osteopath is going to be happier with the C3’s driving position than with several other current Peugeot and Citroëns. There’s a full range of adjusters, as well, including wheel reach and rake plus seat height for both front occupants.
   Practical accommodation in this higher-than-average hatchback includes lots of sensible oddments spots, a “Moduboard” arrangement – of dubious value – in the rear load area and rear head restraints that recede out of the driver’s rear view when nobody’s sitting there. The Exclusive’s self-folding door mirrors are a nice touch, but even the SX shares its velour upholstery.
   Curiously, however, the C3’s rear cushions are fixed, so folding the backrests results in a stepped load platform – albeit a well-trimmed one. The rear load sill is very prominent, too, but load depth is good – even though a full-sized spare is below it. For the rear passengers, kneeroom is the limiting dimension, but if you’re not too lanky, it’s a really comfortable seat.
   The C3’s road manners pass muster because the steering, cornering attitude and bump-suppression are all adequate. Overall, however, the C3 lacks the fluency and poise of a Polo or a Skoda Fabia.
   We were also disappointed with the brakes. The SX and Exclusive add brake-assist, which boosts servo-assistance in an abrupt arrest. However, it goes “over the top” and a clutch-like 10kg pedal load, even applied unhurriedly, got the ABS working. The C3 lacks progression, for controlled braking.
   On a more mundane note, we dislike the full climate control on the Exclusive – it delivers inconsistently from side to side and can cause stuffiness or cold legs, as you jiggle with the temperature control to achieve (in vain) the ideal compromise. We would be happier with the SX’s simpler system.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Security, theft of
theft from
  • seats' height eases entry and egress
  • full-size alloy spare wheel
  • rear child locks controlled from front
  • door mirrors fold electrically
  • air con and fan shut off with engine
  • gross speedo/odo optimism-massages mpg
  • Moduboard mounts impinge on load area
  • sun visors rather shallow
  • driver's mirror adjustment too limited
It will be interesting to see if this C3 attracts anything like the following that its stylish-sister, the Peugeot 206, has achieved. We prefer the C3, despite its disappointments and if this 1.6 were available as a (cheaper) SX, it would look good value to buy and to run. Perhaps there will be special offers by the time you read this.......

engine 1587cc, 4-cylinder, petrol; 110bhp at 5750rpm, 108 lb ft at 4000rpm; belt-driven double overhead camshafts, 16valves   transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 21.3mph/1000rpm in 5th; 17.3 in 4th
suspension front: independent damper struts, integral coil springs rear: torsion beam (dead) axle, coil springs   steering electric power assistance; 2.8 turns lock-to-lock; 11.35m diameter turning circle between kerbs (15.8 for one turn of the wheel. 3.2 turns, with tighter turning circle on 1.4 version)
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear with anti-lock control and emergency brake-assist (not on LX)   wheels/tyres 6in alloy with 185/60R15H (Michelin XHI on test car); full-size alloy spare

size and type five-door (mid-priced) supermini hatchback   trim levels LX, SX, Exclusive
engines petrol: 4-cyl/1.4litre/75bhp; 4/1.6/110 diesel: 4/1.4/70 (or 16v with 92bhp)   drive front-wheel drive; 5-speed manual. Optional 4-speed stepped automatic, with torque converter on 1.4 petrol; clutchless auto-shift synchromesh gearbox on 1.6 petrol

HOW THE C3 COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Citroën C3 1.6 4/1587/110 3280 10.1 17.7/25.4 41.5/155 26.5/14 108 94/69 2.8/11.35 385
Skoda Fabia 1.4 16v 4/1390/100 3690 10.9 20.0/28.3 40/170 24.5/27 109 100/72 2.8/10.25 396
Rover 25 1.4 4/1396/103 3360 11.4 22.0/32.5 38/164 28/14 107 97/70 3.0/10.3 399
Honda Jazz 1.4 4/1339/82 3480 12.7 20.3/27.1 45.5/134 27/14 107 95/74 3.6/10.1 383
Renault Clio 1.4 16v 4/1390/98 3490 11.2 18.0/27.5 42/155 27.5/12 107 94/64 2.8/10.9 381
Daihatsu Sirion 1.3 4/1298/102 3450 9.5 20.5/25.9 47/134 27.5/13 105 93/65 3.6/9.3 368

Good seat with ample adjustments, but funky displays that are also inaccurate. Good over-the-shoulder vision, but auto-wipe fooled by autumn mist on glass
Unlike previous Citroëns, there's little cornering roll yet it's a bit stiff-limbed and the steering feels woolly from straight-ahead. This version has a poor turning circle - even worse on left lock - in France!
Too jittery over broken surfaces to feel at ease, but seats support well. Exclusive's posher aircon a let-down, with uneven flow (side to side) and no vertical or volume adjustment for face vents

Not quite as refined as a Polo/Fabia, but delivers lively acceleration; gearshift a shade clingy, but a light clutch and reasonably quiet cruising keep the driver happy.
  acceleration in seconds through gears+ 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40 3.1 9.0 12.6
  30-50 4.0 8.7 12.1
  40-60 4.8 8.6 12.5
  50-70 6.1 9.0 13.3
  30-70 10.1 17.7 25.4
  max speed in each gear (+ using 6000rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st+      2nd+      3rd+      4th+      5th
     speed (mph)      32      56      80      104      113 (5300rpm)

Creditable result for a largish, more powerful performer. Unusually, filler sited on passenger's side (in UK). Segmented lights for fuel "gauge" - played up on test. Easy filler, though.
  type of use (air conditioning off) AA test (mpg) 
    urban (17mph average/heavy traffic) 28.5
    suburban (27mph average/6.4 miles from cold start) 36.5
    motorway (70mph cruising) 35
    cross-country (brisk driving/20 miles from cold start) 44.5
    rural (gentle driving/20 miles from cold start) 51
    overall mpg 41.5
    realistic tank capacity/range 38/345
    official mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 32.9/54.3/43.5
    CO2 emissions 155g/km
    car tax band C

Nice details include facia switch for rear child locks and five "proper" belts, plus six airbags as standard. Hazard flashers come on automatically in heavy braking - too sensitive. Brakes also over-sensitive and inconsistent.
  from 50mph (with brake-assist/ABS)
This model has not yet been
tested by EURO NCAP
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     27m
sudden 10kg     27m ABS on
+4kg ie 14kg     26.5m best stop
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

Excellent interior height, with easier access to front and to rear, but much less room for the one behind the average driver. Good oddments spaces include under-seat drawers and fiddly rear collapsible shelf, yet rear cushions fixed. Lacks versatility of Honda Jazz.
  in centimetres (5-door hatch)
  length 385
  width - including mirrors 191
    - mirrors folded 171
  height 152
  load sill height (inside/outside) 30/77
  turns lock-to-lock 2.8
  turning circle (metres) 11.35
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 89-108
    - headroom 98-103$
  rear - typical legroom 94
    - typical kneeroom 69
    - headroom 94
    - hiproom 130
  load area
  load space(all seats in use)
(litres/cu ft)
  load length 52-112
  load length to facia no
  load width 97-103
  load height (to shelf/to top of aperture) 59 91
$ no sunroof

Convenient auto tailgate and locking manual interior lock-button. Exclusive has an alarm as well as deadlocks. No way of securing luggage from the interior.
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
alarm (perimeter and interior)*  
self locking (static)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
tailgate locks on drive-off*   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
* standard on Exclusive
NCSR - "theft of"
NCSR - "theft from"
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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