Right now, if you’re asked to think of a serious contender in the compact hatchback bracket, it’s not likely that the first option to pop into your mind will be the Citroën C3.
Can the new Citroën importers change all that? In the C3 they’ve got a product that ticks most of the boxes that matter. The one box that remains unticked, for the moment, is how well it will do on resale.
The new car’s striking looks are headlined by the startling Zenith windscreen available on certain models. The panoramic-view windscreen increases front passengers’ upward field of vision by 80° by removing the upper beam. In the land of nearly non-stop sunshine (we did say nearly) you’ll be glad to hear that there’s a blind to ensure nobody fries.
On the inside, there’s another unusual and immediately apparent feature: a staggered dashboard. The front passenger has 80 mm of extra knee space, allowing a more forward seating position to free space for somebody sitting behind.
There are two engine options, a 54 kW/118 N.m 1,4-litre and a 1,6 that develops 88 kW and 160 N.m. The 1,6 is common to both the C3 and the Mini Cooper. The 1,4 looks a little wimpish on paper, but actually it hustles the C3 along quite nicely via the slick 5-speed gearbox fitted to all derivatives . We were less impressed with the car’s steering. There’s a disappointing lack of feedback that robs cornering of the precision that makes for good handling and spoils what would otherwise be an invigorating drive. By contrast, the ride quality is superb, with a good balance between comfort and control.
Prices start at R159 900.