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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For It's cheap to buy and run, comfortable and refined, and has individual looks

Against The rear seats are cramped, and the boot isn't as big as some of its rivals'

Verdict The C3 is economical to buy and to run, but bettered in most areas by most rivals

Go for… 1.4i SX

Avoid… 1.1/Sensodrive

Citroën C3 Hatchback
  • 1. Check you're happy with the high driving position
  • 2. Look over the cabin carefully - the trim isn't the most robust and some parts can break off
  • 3. Avoid the Sensodrive gearbox - it's awkward to use, and can give up the ghost completely
  • 4. If you're buying an early 1.6 16v HDi, make sure the fuel injector pump has been changed
  • 5. Check the suspension on a test drive, because problems have been reported and there was an early suspension-related recall
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Citroën C3 Hatchback full review with expert trade views

The C3 has a hint of MPV about it, especially with its high driving position (although it won't suit all drivers).

The cabin has an airy feel and some thoughtful touches, but the rear seats are tight and the boot is only just adequate. There's a high sill to lug stuff over, too.

Front passengers have stacks of space and the driver enjoys a logical control layout, although the digital instruments are fussy.

The engines - 1.1 apart - are willing and strong enough to cope with out-of-town work. On a cruise, they're quiet and only some wind noise disturbs the otherwise refined calm.

Citroens normally give a soft, comfortable ride, but the C3 is an exception. Revisions at the end of 2005 made it more absorbent, but you'll notice bumps too often on earlier cars.

Still, it goes round corners competently, although keen drivers will prefer a car with more grip, more steering feel and less body roll.

Trade view

John Owen

Squint and you'll see the 2CV heritage. Competent but dull to drive

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

The 1.4 and 1.6 diesels are strong, smooth, quiet and exceptionally frugal, but are dearer to buy than the petrols. So stick to the petrols, which all return over 40mpg.

In town, the 1.1 petrol is fine, but can feel stretched on a longer high-speed run. The 1.6 petrol performs strongly, but we prefer the cheaper 1.4, which is smooth and lively.

The 1.4 is also available with a stop-start system - it switches the engine off when the car's stationary to cut emissions - but it's still rare on the used market.

The Sensodrive paddle-shift gearbox is more common, but avoid it because it gives a jerky drive.

Basic trim is just that, so track down an SX, which is the best value, with air-con and CD. You may also find the plushest Exclusive trim, or the sporty VTR trim.

C3s are easy to find. Citroen dealers, supersites, independent dealers, and the classifieds all have them.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Easy to retail both petrol and diesel 1.4i Desire is the pick of the range

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Affordable costs are one of the C3's biggest draws. For a start, it's cheap to buy used, but don't pay over the odds for a young one - and don't use the list price of a new one as your guide.

Citroen dealers always give huge discounts on new ones, so check our valuations for used C3s on this site before you go shopping.

Fuel costs are low. Even the thirstiest - the 1.6 petrol auto - gives just over 40mpg in normal driving. Our preferred 1.4 petrol ups that to mid-40s, only 1mpg or so behind the 1.1 petrol. As for the diesels, they return more than 60mpg.

Servicing is cheap, so long as you avoid the 110bhp 1.6 diesel. And, insurance is cheap, too - the 1.4 sits in group 3, one higher than the 1.1 petrol. Group 6 is as bad as it gets - and that's for the top-trim petrol and diesel 1.6s.

Trade view

John Owen

Squint and you'll see the 2CV heritage. Competent but dull to drive

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

If you decide to ignore our advice and go for a Sensodrive car anyway, this semi-automatic gearbox can give up the ghost completely. You have been warned.

There have also been reports of the injector pump failing on the 1.6 16v HDi turbodiesel of earlier cars. Citroen has improved the design, which sorts the problem, and revised parts will have been fitted to most cars under the company's three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, but it's worth asking the question when viewing one.

The interior trim isn't the most robust and some parts can break off, so give the interior a good examination. Similarly, the electrics can be iffy on some cars, so check everything - and we mean everything...

Check the suspension, too, because there have been a few reports of problems and an early suspension-related recall. Some owners report heavier-than-normal front brake wear, so inspect the pads.

Generally, though, any faults are likely to be niggles, rather than major ones, and should be pretty cheap to fix.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Easy to retail both petrol and diesel 1.4i Desire is the pick of the range

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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