Citroen C3 1.4HDi & eHDi Road Test
Citroen have always made useful little city cars. The updated C3 has a good heritage and has been popular since its inception.
The current version is an attractive and unthreatening motor offering a surprising amount of space within the squat bodyshell.
It is a popular and sensible choice for young families, and something of a bargain on a personal lease deal. Purchase prices start at under £10k, rising to twice that for a top spec model with trimmings.
As far as specification goes, VTR+ is a good option, offering improved interior and a basic but useful bluetooth and USB connection through a pleasant hifi that improves with volume.
I managed to test both the 1.4 HDi manual and the 1.4 eHDi automatic variants back-to-back and can unequivocally state that the automatic option is atrocious.
Under normal driving in the auto 1st gear will propel you about 15ft before becoming almost stationary while 2nd is slowly and painfully selected. This is at best irritating, and at worst terrifying if you should nip into a gap on a busy round about.
The manual 5-speed box, on the other hand, is a delight. The shift is quick and light, the ratios are well chosen and the clutch is easy and smooth. My only minor gripe is that at motorway speeds it does feel like it could take another gear.
On smaller roads and about town the driver has a very easy time of it. Good visibility, light and precise steering and a cheerful little 70hp motor combine to get you out and about without drama, and with a degree of fun.
Handling is not going to take your breathe away, but it grips more than you expect and the brakes are sensitive and effective.
Feel through the wheel is similar to what I think Luke Skywalkers Land-Speeder must feel like, but you can just point the car and it will go where you ask. The emphasis is on comfort.
On which, the seats are all well shaped and padded, other than restless legs on longer journies the driver and passengers are well cared for.
The boot too is a good size and can take an impressive amount of clutter before you remember this is just a small car, albeit a very well laid out example.
As for economy, this is a modern small diesel so you should expect to be a rare visitor to the pumps, but the auto version gave me a very satisfying 60mpg over the week. This embarrases many more costly eco cars, but is itself shown wanting next to the £2000 cheaper manual non-eco version which for me returned 64.5mpg.
This one statistic is reason enough to buy one, so guess what my partner now drives…
This car lives in the crowded and fierce territory of the supermini, fighting for elbow room against the Fiesta, Fabia and new Clio.
They all have much to offer, the Fiesta is a great drive, and the Skoda very rugged and reliable, but the Citroen offers a little more for a little less and in this sector that means a lot.
Tech Spec (1.4 eHDi Airdream)
0-62mph – 16.2 seconds
Fuel consumption – 83.1 MPG
CO2 – 87 g/km
Power – 70 BHP
words and pics – Mark Wolens