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Citroen C3 Review

8 / 10
3 November 2023
Red Citroen C3 driving

The Citroen C3 is a breath of fresh air. It’s comfortable where so many hatches try to be sporty, and confident in its quirky styling

What we like:
  • Soft, comfortable suspension
  • Funky styling inside and out
  • Affordable with low running costs
What we don't like:
  • Won’t appeal to keen drivers
  • Cabin feels plasticky in places
  • Some rivals are more practical

Should I buy a Citroen C3?

Some cars are all-rounders and perform well in most areas. They’re four-wheeled jacks of all trades, but rarely become the master of any one aspect. That’s not something you can say for the Citroen C3.

This quirky little hatchback has a simple mission – to be comfortable. That’s surprisingly rare among modern cars, which so often try to be ‘sporty’ with firm suspension and sharp handling.

Comfort isn’t the only trick in the C3’s playbook, however. It makes plenty of effort to stand out in the car park with funky, rounded styling and an unconventional, minimalist cabin. Once again, that starkly contrasts the C3’s rivals, many of which have gone with a needlessly ‘angry’ look.

Keep reading to find out if the supple C3 is the right supermini for you, or if you’d be better off with one of its talented rivals. The Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Skoda Fabia all have their own suite of talents that could tempt you away from the little Citroen.

Interior and technology

Take a seat in the C3’s cabin and you won’t be fooled into thinking it’s an expensive car – there’s plenty of evidence of its affordable origins. Lots of hard, dark grey scratchy plastics can be found lower down on the dashboard and covering the door panels. Even in the C3’s cheapest spots, however, Citroen has bothered to indent the panels with lozenge-shaped bumps to give a sense of deliberate design.

What’s more, the small handful of plush features in the C3 have been wisely chosen to maximise their impact. The dashboard, for instance, is made up of a wide strip of piano-black plastic or, on higher-end C3s, faux suede – both of which help lift the ambiance. On the doors, too, you’ll find grab handles that mimic stitched leather straps, trimmed to match the attractive, square-shouldered seats.

Then there’s the dash’s sheer minimalism. Almost all controls have moved to the touchscreen, which certainly takes some getting used to – changing climate control settings, for instance, is more of a hassle than simply twisting a knob. The trade-off, however, is an almost complete absence of buttons on the dashboard, save for a thin strip of hotkeys housed in a metal tube beneath the touchscreen.


Under the skin, the C3 uses most of the same oily bits as the Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa, but it’s the smallest of the three cars, measuring just less than four metres long. As a result, cabin space isn’t the little Citroen’s strongest suit.

Passenger space up front is perfectly acceptable and occupants get a great view out thanks to the large side and quarter light windows. The back seats are quite tight, however, with limited room for heads and legs, and overall comfort compromised by the seat’s hard, flat shape.

There’s 300 litres of boot space, which is competitive with the Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 208. The overall shape is usefully square and deep, but there’s quite a high lip to lift your cargo over, and no clever features like tie-down tethers to hold it securely once you’ve loaded it.

Engines and performance

Engine options for the C3 are simple, with just three choices. The lineup starts with a pair of 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engines. Entry-level petrols make 83hp and, as long as you don’t care about performance, this may be the option to go for. There’s plenty of punch for town driving and you’ll only find yourself having to change down for particularly fast overtakes or especially steep hills. Choosing this model keeps prices low and fuel economy high.

It’s worth trying out the upgraded 110hp petrol, however, because it adds a turbo for much better acceleration and a sixth gear. That makes this engine feel much more relaxed when getting up to speed and means you don’t have to stir the gearbox for an extra spurt of speed. Buyers after an automatic gearbox can only choose this engine.

The C3 is also one of an increasingly small group of compact cars that can still be purchased with a diesel engine. In the Citroen, the 1.5-litre unit delivers great long-range driving performance and the prospect of more than 60mpg if you use a light right foot.

Driving and comfort

Driving the C3 is something of a revelation, but not because it’s scintillating fun on a twisty back road. Instead, the car is comfortable – properly comfortable – in a way very few rivals can replicate. Big bumps vanish beneath the soft suspension and the Citroen is adept at filtering out the roughness you feel through the base of your seat over scruffy road surfaces.

There is a price to pay for the soft springs though, and that’s evident in the C3’s fairly substantial body roll around corners. It doesn’t feel wobbly and never impacts how confident you feel in the car’s stability, but means the C3 offers little-to-no appeal for keen drivers who fancy a sporty drive on their favourite back road.

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