Citroen C3 Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Monday 11th December


What is it like to drive?

Equipped with the more powerful 110bhp petrol engine, the C3 goes well. With 151lb ft of torque it pulls healthily up to 70mph, if not overly quickly (0-62mph takes 10.5 seconds in the manual, and 11.2 seconds in the auto), meaning it occasionally struggles on steep hills and when overtaking. Top speed is 120mph, although you’re probably going to have to rely on a stiff tailwind to achieve it.

So I should avoid the less powerful engine?

Given its, er, less-than-inspiring speed, we’d be hesitant to spec that one, yes: it offers barely half the torque (87lb ft) and takes an entire phase of the moon – 15.2 seconds – to reach 62mph, on to a top speed of 105mph. It’s only barely acceptable, truth be told, and caning the little engine too much pricks the bubble of self-contained comfort. And comfort is very much the priority here.

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But you know what? It’s all the better for it. Citroen knows the C3 isn’t going to challenge on the handling front, and nor does it try to. The elevated driving position, those squishy seats (including new driver’s side armrest, although we’re not sure why the front passenger couldn’t have got one, too), the all-round view of your surroundings... it’s a pleasant place to be.

How’s the ride?

Ride quality is smooth enough, but over bigger bumps it does feel a little bouncy. That’s also reflected when cornering – take one at speed and there is a fair amount of body roll, meaning your natural reaction is to lift off, at which point precisely nothing untoward happens.

The steering doesn’t have much (if anything) in the way of weight or feel, but it's agile enough that once you’re used to the body roll, you quite enjoy it. If light understeer could be said to be ‘enjoyable’. Some people absolutely hate the way the C3 rides - but if you want naturally sharp handling, you’d be better with a Fiesta.

Must be quiet too?

Wind and tyre noise is minimal, while the engine is hushed when cruising at higher speeds. The six-speed automatic gearbox is fine at lower speeds and driving around town, but when putting your foot down it’s hesitant, meaning acceleration can be a little jerky at times. For that reason, we’d choose the manual, although beware if you have big feet: the clutch rest can get in the way a bit unless you’re pressing straight down on the pedal.

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The five-speed gearbox is also on the ageing side: you’ll probably crunch reverse unless you take it very slowly. Never going to put your foot down (in terms of speed) or travel exclusively within an urban environment? Have the auto. The lane-keep assist is Really Annoying though.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Citroen C3 1.2 Puretech 110 Shine Plus 5DR
  • 0-629.4s
  • CO2
  • BHP110
  • MPG
  • Price£20,535

the cheapest

Citroen C3 1.2 Puretech YOU 5DR
  • 0-6212.5s
  • CO2
  • BHP83
  • MPG
  • Price£13,750
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