Skip to content
Motorpoint logo
  • All Cars
  • By Make
  • By Model
  • By Body Style
  • By Budget
  • Electric Cars
  • Hybrid cars
  • Vans
  • Reviews
  • Aftercare
  • Stock Number Search

Citroen C3 engines, driving and performance

How does the Citroen C3 drive?

The headline feature of the Citroen C3’s driving experience is its comfort, which we’ll cover in more detail later on. As a driver’s car, however, the C3 doesn’t have much to offer. If you’re after a sportier, more engaging drive, you’ll be better off with a Ford Fiesta or SEAT Ibiza.

That said, the C3 is unlikely to offend anyone on the road, either. The steering is accurate and light enough, and the gear shifter selects its ratios positively enough, despite having quite a long-feeling throw.

There’s plenty of body roll as a side effect of the comfortable suspension but, once the car has leaned over through a corner, it doesn’t bounce waywardly like some softly sprung small cars can. Passengers will notice the roll, however, which is exaggerated by the lounge-like seats, so sporty driving will quickly see complaints from seasick occupants. Embrace the C3’s comfortable vibe, however, and you’ll find it easy and fuss-free to drive.

Is the Citroen C3 comfortable?

Yes! The C3 is fantastically comfortable – something that almost no other small car truly replicates. Large impacts like speed bumps or potholes are rounded off with grace, barely registering in the cabin, and vibrations from scruffy road surfaces are also adeptly tuned out. Very occasionally, you feel the odd rumble from the car’s buzzy three-cylinder engine through the base of your seat but this still doesn’t spoil the overall calm, cosseting environment.

Refinement is similarly impressive, with passengers well insulated from tyre roar and suspension thuds. At speed, the most obvious sound is a bit of wind noise from the windscreen, but not so much that you need to raise your voice in a conversation. Putting your foot down results in a fairly prominent thrum from the petrol engines – especially the 83hp non-turbo version – but the overall sound isn’t especially harsh, so isn’t too hard to live with. Diesel models are a bit grumbly but, again, not so loud that they affect overall comfort.

What’s the best engine to get?

While the C3 remains a rare breed for still offering a diesel-powered option, most buyers will be better suited by the efficient and affordable petrol engines. Similarly, the majority of C3 drivers will be perfectly well served by the 83hp entry-level petrol engine, so this is probably the best choice for most buyers. There’s enough power to keep pace with traffic and you’ll only have to switch to a lower gear on very steep hills.

The jump from the 83hp 1.2-litre petrol to the 110hp version doesn’t seem very large on paper but feels much more noticeable in the real world. A turbocharger is added to the latter, which makes it feel much more muscular, so you can use the in-gear performance a little more without having to swap to a lower ratio as often as the 83hp model. You also get a six-speed manual gearbox rather than just five, improving both acceleration and high-speed refinement. This is also the engine to go for if you want an automatic gearbox.

Citroen C3 performance

The C3 isn’t a performance car and it isn’t pretending to be one. That said, the 110hp 1.2-litre turbo petrol remains one of our favourite small car engines, and feels really punchy in a car as compact and light as the C3. There’s a rich swell of power as the turbo comes on song, which means getting up to motorway speeds feels impressively effortless.

You’ll have to work the gearbox more actively to achieve similar performance from the non-turbo 83hp petrol engine. It will start to feel out of its depth if you go for a fast country road overtake without dropping a gear or two. Despite this, the buzzy little engine never sounds too harsh, so working it harder when you need a burst of acceleration doesn’t feel like flogging a stubborn mule.

You may also be interested in

Review for Ford Fiesta


8 / 10

The Ford Fiesta is great fun to drive, efficient and good value

Review for Peugeot 208


8 / 10

The Peugeot 208 majors on style both inside and out

Review for Volkswagen Polo


8 / 10

The Volkswagen Polo is a classy small hatchback and packed with tech