Citroen C3 1.6i SensoDrive - CITROEN C3 Car Review

Review

Added: 29 Jan 2004
Last update:

IT OOZES quirkiness by the bucketload but is a pain to drive - welcome to the frustrating world of the new Citroen C3.

With this model, the French car-builder has produced one of THE funky-looking superminis.

But don't let its cute looks fool you into thinking it will provide a compliant drive. The truth is that the automatic 1.6 version isn't very responsive and is often jerky.

The model I road-tested was a 1.6i SensoDrive which means the car can be driven as an automatic or by using rally-style gear-changing via steering wheel-mounted panels.

In self-shift mode the model struggles quite often, especially when you plant your foot down in a desperate bid for more pulling power. My experience was that the harder you planted your foot down on the accelerator, the more the C3 would rev harder and harder for what seemed like an eternity before finally changing gear with a big jolt.

The good news is that the rally-style gear-changing feature offers a better, smoother drive. All you need to do is flick one panel for an up-change and the other panel for a down-shift.

Even then, though, the 1.6i is far from the quickest kid on the block.

The engine is capable of producing 110bhp which can take the C3 from start to 62mph in just under 12 seconds.

The model's steering and handling are both adequate rather than pin-point. In terms of performance the C3's plusses come from its economy - more than 45mpg combined - and low emissions.

Much more impressive are the model's looks. For one reason or another the C3 reminds me of cars as diverse as the Beetle, Micra and Rover 25 - but its bold-styling works really well.

The five-door supermini features rounded lines and a very friendly face.

Despite having compact dimensions the interior of the car is impressively comfortable and spacious. There's also lots of glass which makes the cabin feel light and airy and provides for a good view of the road.

The interior has a trendy feel with a two-tone dashboard, circular air vents and a number of aluminium effect fittings.

The C3 is also practical with up to 30 stowage areas including door bins and underseat drawers and a large boot.

Citroen's new 'little big car' - as the C3 is dubbed - more than punches above its weight in terms of looks and practicality. As a package though it's let down by the jerky automatic gearbox.

FAST FACTS

Citroen C3 1.6i SensoDrive Exclusive

Price:  £12,195

Mechanical: 110bhp, 1,587cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-spd automatic gearbox

Max Speed:  119mph

0-62mph:  11.9 secs

Combined mpg:  45.6

Insurance Group:  5

CO2 emissions:  148g/km

BiK rating:  15%

Warranty:  3yrs/ 60,000 miles; 12yrs anti-rust;  3yrs paint

Words: Paul Malley

Keywords: CITROEN, C3