The elegant appearance of the French is not enough to restore their talent in the small car industry

The C2 and C3, which took over the three- and five-door Saxo respectively, were larger, safer and ostensibly better. However, competitors also arose – and next to the premium Renault Clio, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo, the C3 felt rather … skinny.

For one thing, gone is the surprising spaciousness that Citroen imbued in its small cars from the start. Space in C3 was expensive. Most frustratingly, while the ride was smooth, it didn’t do enough to dampen the bumps, and the C3 wasn’t fun to drive.

The second generation didn’t do much to change things – it wasn’t really surprising, given that it was based on the same platform as the first, although at least it was cheap to buy. And in 2016, the third Citroen C3 was released. An eye-catching design distinguished it, but reviews – and feedback from buyers – remain lukewarm.

Now, here comes the facelift, tasked with trying to salvage the C3 site as also a run. Does she have any hope? It’ll be uphill struggle, given that this newer C3 is once again based on the same platform as the original – which has its roots in the 1998 Peugeot 206. That’s right – most college students these days are smaller than the underpinnings of this rather modest hatchback.

Positives

  • cheap to buy
  • Stylish on the outside and inside
  • Decent boot size

Negatives

  • bumpy
  • narrow rear seats
  • Fewer models lack key safety equipment

Under the skin

The big news, if you can call it that, is that Citroen has finally fitted the C3’s ultra-foam Advanced Comfort seats. Not much has changed, despite some typical tweaks and some cosmetic tweaks around the nose. Also, these luxury seats are only available on the two higher-spec models, Saint James and Shine Plus.

At first glance, entry-level cars are not well equipped; LED headlights and cruise control are standard, but there are signs of stinginess; You can do without alloy wheels or rear parking sensors on the two cheapest models.

You don’t get Independent Emergency Braking (AEB) on any version except the high-spec Shine Plus. Yes, it’s just another electronic driver aid, but the AEB system has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of an accident, and the fact that Citroen keeps it exclusively for those who can pay the most seems to be the opposite. egalite Its citizens appreciate it.

In comparison, most competitors give you AEB across the board these days; Even Citroen’s sister brands Peugeot and Vauxhall offer some form of technology on the cheaper 208 and Corsa.

But all that spec trimming makes the C3 at least cheap. Right below the scale, you’re the barefoot! The version (yes, the exclamation point is a sickening part of the insignia) fights back with the Dacia Duster at just £12,995.

It’s a big jump to Sense at around £16,000, but even this version is overpriced; Most rivals that likewise cost more, and while the Skoda Fabia S can be had for a lower price, it does get quite a bit of fine detailing and a gutless engine (although it does at least get an AEB).

Even our test car, which sits right at the top of the range with the most powerful petrol engine, most extensive spec list and automatic gearbox, cost £20,945 – significantly less than the equivalent version of one of those competitors.

And whether you’re outside or inside, the C3 doesn’t look or feel like a bargain offering downstairs. Clever use of contrasting shades and textures means the sleek exterior is modern and catches the eye from any angle you approach it, while continuing inside the look, with thoughtful materials and color choices that make the C3 feel a world apart from the rugged gray of the Fabia or Toyota Yaris.

calmly approach quietly

Are these new seats more comfortable? Overall, probably, but it’s pretty soft, and that means there’s very little lumbar support, which could prove to wear out on a longer ride – sure, after an hour’s drive I’m starting to feel a little stiff in the setup.

The driving position is weird, too; The front seats feel pushed back by an intrusion barrier, keeping you away from the dashboard, so it’s a stretch to reach, though at least the wheel adjusts too far back to compensate.

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