New Citroën C3 review

Category: Small car

The 2024 C3 is a good low-cost choice if you're looking for a well-equipped small car or SUV

Citroën C3 front cornering
  • Citroën C3 front cornering
  • Citroën C3 rear cornering
  • Citroën C3 dashboard
  • Citroën C3 boot open
  • Citroën C3 driver display
  • Citroën C3 right driving
  • Citroën C3 front driving
  • Citroën C3 front right driving
  • Citroën C3 rear right driving
  • Citroën C3 rear right static
  • Citroën C3 front badge
  • Citroën C3 alloy wheel
  • Citroën C3 rear detail
  • Citroën C3 headlights detail
  • Citroën C3 front seats
  • Citroën C3 back seats
  • Citroën C3 back seats
  • Citroën C3 infotainment touchscreen
  • Citroën C3 interior detail
  • Citroën C3 air-con controls
  • Citroën C3 Be Cool label
  • Citroën C3 front cornering
  • Citroën C3 rear cornering
  • Citroën C3 dashboard
  • Citroën C3 boot open
  • Citroën C3 driver display
  • Citroën C3 right driving
  • Citroën C3 front driving
  • Citroën C3 front right driving
  • Citroën C3 rear right driving
  • Citroën C3 rear right static
  • Citroën C3 front badge
  • Citroën C3 alloy wheel
  • Citroën C3 rear detail
  • Citroën C3 headlights detail
  • Citroën C3 front seats
  • Citroën C3 back seats
  • Citroën C3 back seats
  • Citroën C3 infotainment touchscreen
  • Citroën C3 interior detail
  • Citroën C3 air-con controls
  • Citroën C3 Be Cool label
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Not sure whether to get a small car or an SUV? The new Citroën C3 could free you from your dilemma by letting you (sort of) have both.

You see, unlike the previous C3 – which planted its flag firmly in small-car territory – this fourth-generation model is taller, boxier and features roof rails, skid plates and two-tone body styling. In other words, it looks every bit a Jeep Avenger rival.

Better still, the C3's pumped-up looks haven't pumped up the price. Citroën has managed to keep pricing at small-car levels by using its new Smart Car platform, which allows for 30% fewer components and consequently lower production costs. (The same applies to the all-electric version, the Citroën ë-C3.)

In a market where prices have continued to creep up in recent years that’s good news, but the C3 will still have some work cut out to compete against both the best small cars and the best small SUVs.

Read on to find out how we rate the new Citroën C3 against car rivals such as the Renault Clio and Suzuki Swift and SUVs including the Avenger, Peugeot 2008 and Skoda Kamiq...

Overview

If you’re in the market for a small car or small SUV, the new Citroën C3 is well worth a look. It’s well equipped, excellent value, surprisingly comfortable and relatively spacious – although most true small SUVs are bigger.

  • Cheap compared to almost every rival
  • Comfortable ride
  • Spacious interior considering its compact dimensions
  • Boot would benefit from a false floor
  • No Euro NCAP safety rating yet
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Strengths

  • +Relatively comfortable ride
  • +Decent efficiency
  • +Good control weights

Weaknesses

  • -Noisy above 50mph
  • -Not the sharpest in the bends

The engine line-up for the new Citroën C3 is simple. You have the choice of a 99bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine (PureTech 100 S&S) – and that’s it.

With a six-speed manual gearbox that slots into gear smoothly and has a short throw, the C3 is surprisingly fun to dart around town in. It has just enough grunt to keep up with faster-moving traffic on motorways.

The standard petrol C3 will be joined later by a mild-hybrid version with the same engine plus an electric motor and an automatic gearbox. Power will remain at 99bhp but we suspect it will feel a bit punchier thanks to the mild-hybrid tech.

Dynamically, Citroën has prioritised comfort above all else. So despite being something of a budget option, the C3 gets the brand’s Advanced Comfort suspension (unusual hydraulically cushioned dampers).

The result is a relatively plush ride over most surfaces, but the rear axle does occasionally thump over sharp ridges. It’s calmer than a Seat Arona but not as well resolved as a Jeep Avenger.

It’s not quite as sharp as those cars in the bends, either. There’s plenty of grip, the steering is well-weighted (although we’d like it to be a little less darty off centre) and it wafts along at speed. We even like the brakes (which are far easier to modulate than those on the previous-generation C3).

Citroën C3 image
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In terms of refinement, the 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine is relatively hushed, and while you can feel some vibration through the pedals and gear lever, the same is true in the petrol Avenger and the Vauxhall Mokka.

More noticeable is the road noise above 50mph – it’s not oppressive but it could get tiring on a long road trip.

Citroën C3 rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Strengths

  • +Comfortable seats
  • +Good visibility
  • +Simple dashboard

Weaknesses

  • -Hard plastics used throughout

The new Citroën C3's interior is not what you'd call luxurious, but nor does it feel particularly oppressive.

Plenty of hard plastics have been used throughout, but the design itself is funky and modern (little motivational labels are stitched into the door armrests, for example). The top-spec C3 Max version we drove had some pleasant material across the dashboard. 

There's a pseudo head-up display, with a digital speedo, rev counter and trip information projected on to a reflective instrument panel in front of you (rather than on to the windscreen, as with a proper head-up display). It’s easy to see the instruments over the oblong steering wheel.

The climate control settings are adjusted using tactile physical buttons, and there are also buttons for driver assistance systems. That makes life a lot easier than systems that force you to use the infotainment system to change settings.

Speaking of which, the 10.25in screen is suitably no-frills, with basic applications for navigation and media. It comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay so you can use your phone’s applications on the screen.

The driving position in the C3 is a touch higher than in most small cars and visibility out of the tall side windows is generally good. You get rear parking sensors as standard, and top-spec Max models get a rear-view camera.

The C3's Advanced Comfort Seats are indeed pretty comfortable, but the lack of adjustable lumbar support could be a problem on longer journeys.

Citroën C3 dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Strengths

  • +Surprisingly roomy for a small car

Weaknesses

  • -Three adults will feel squashed in the back
  • -No centre armrest in the front
  • -Boot lacks clever features

Despite its supermini dimensions, the Citroën C3 holds its own against small car and small SUV rivals when it comes to space.

Up front there's plenty of head and leg room, and while it's frustrating that there is no central armrest, you won’t be at risk of knocking elbows with your front-seat passenger. 

Things are a little tighter in the back, and six-footers might find their feet a bit cramped, but there's plenty of head room and the tall side windows give a feeling of airiness. You get three headrests in the back, but we suspect there'll be some shoulder rubbing if you try to fit three adults back there.

The C3's interior storage space is simply adequate. The door bins are a decent size, the cubby below the infotainment system is generous and rear-seat passengers are treated to nifty little phone pocket. That said, the lack of an interior at the back could be a pain at night (especially if your children are prone to dropping things).

With a tall but rather short 310-litre boot, the new C3 offers more load space than a Suzuki Swift and Vauxhall Corsa. The Jeep Avenger, Renault Clio and Skoda Kamiq have bigger boots, though.

You should be able to get your weekly shopping into the C3's boot, but the opening is a bit small and there's a high load lip that will be annoying when you're lifting in heavy items.

There’s no height-adjustable boot floor and the only "storage solution" is a single plastic hook. When the rear seatbacks are folded down (they split 60/40) they leave a step up in the extended load bay.

Citroën C3 boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Strengths

  • +Low starting price
  • +Entry-level spec has enough kit

Weaknesses

  • -No safety rating

The new Citroën C3 is excellent value when compared with similarly equipped small cars and costs significantly less than most small SUVs. It undercuts the Jeep Avenger, Peugeot e-2008Renault Clio, Suzuki Swift and Vauxhall Mokka.

You’ll have to pay slightly more for the mild-hybrid car (when it arrives) but it’s your only option if you must have your petrol C3 with an auto gearbox

Arguably, the Citroën ë-C3 electric car is a better choice to use around towns and cities, with its immediate power delivery making stop-start driving more relaxing. However, it’s going to take a long time for any buyer to recoup the extra money they've spent to buy one on fuel savings.

Economy-wise, we saw an average of just over 40mpg on our short test drive on a broad mix of roads. If you want significantly better fuel economy from a small SUV, you'll need to look at a full hybrid such as a Lexus LBX or Renault Clio.

Two trims are offered: Plus and Max. Plus gets a touchscreen infotainment system, LED headlights, comfort seats and rear-parking sensors.

Max adds 17in diamond-cut alloy wheels, LED tail lights, tinted rear windows, automatic air-con, wireless phone-charging, a rear-view camera, electric rear windows, electrically folding and heated exterior mirrors, automatic wipers and automatic high beam.

We can't tell you how safe the C3 will be yet because it hasn't been tested by Euro NCAP but it comes with lane-keep assist, speed-limit recognition, a driver attention alert system and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).


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Citroën C3 driver display

FAQs

  • Yes, you can, the ë-C3. And the best bit is that it’s not massively more expensive than the petrol. To find out more, see our Citroën ë-C3 review.

  • Citroën would like you think of the C3 as a small car with SUV-inspired styling, but it has a slightly elevated driving. However, it does also offer the elevated driving position and boxy shape of many small SUVs.

At a glance
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Save up to £2,294
Target Price from £14,150
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From £12,150
RRP price range £14,150 - £23,690
Number of trims (see all)5
Number of engines (see all)4
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric, petrol
MPG range across all versions 49.8 - 53.4
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £44 / £1,323
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £88 / £2,646
Available colours