Citroen C3 1.4 HDi LX - CITROEN C3 Car Review


Added: 03 Dec 2002
Last update:

IF there was an award for the most miles per gallon per litre engine size, then Citroen must be well on the way to scooping the honours.

From a 1.4 litre engine the French manufacturer claims its C3 medium sized hatchback can average an incredible 67.3mpg.

Using the latest in diesel engine technology this is a wonder among cars in terms of being lean and green. What's more is that it costs less than £10,000 - much less while Citroen is slashing prices with a "VAT-back" offer running until the New Year - and it also qualifies for maximum tax advantages.

A CO2 emission figure of 110g/km puts the C3 diesel in the lowest tax banding for the private buyer and comes in with an 18 per cent BiK rating for the business user. Couple that to group three insurance and 12,500 mile service intervals and this is a bargain in anyone's book.

Even better, the engine does not struggle at motorway speeds despite it being a tiny oil burner.

At 1.4 litres this is one of the smallest diesel engines around. Audi, Toyota, Seat and VW have similar sized powerplants and Ford is using the very same Citroen engine in the new Fiesta.

But in the Ford it is capable only of hitting a still very respectable average of 65.7mpg because of the Fiesta's extra weight, and with the exception of the Toyota Yaris, the others can't hold an economy candle to the Citroen.

The same is true when it comes to price and only the Yaris is in the same league as five door cars go. At £9,865 the Yaris also comes with ABS brakes and its 75bhp engine offers better performance than the base level C3 HDi LX. ABS on this C3 comes as a £350 extra and neither it nor the Toyota have air conditioning as standard.

The real difference between the two comes in the feel, and the C3 is much more robust, handles sweetly and sounds more refined under acceleration. What is impressive is that at 70mph the rev counter is still below the 2,500 mark - and that is amazing for a 1.4 litre.

The C3, with its slight retro styling, also looks a bit more conventional that the futuristic lines of the Yaris - in fact this latest Citroen has more than a touch of the legendary Diane about it.

Clever use of coloured plastic with a variety of textures, as well as bright fabrics, lift the interior while there is a high-tech approach to the facia. The speedo is digital, the rev counter curves in a band across the top of the instrument panel, and the centre of the dash is filled with a digital display unit.

This may be a base model but it still featured aluminium effect door levers and gearknob, as well as stylish eyeball vents. Double door bins in the front - and there are more in the rear - are supplemented with a twin glove box.  The driver's seat is height adjustable, the steering wheel can be set for rake and reach, and the C3 also comes with electric front windows.

If there is a reservation it is with the amount of leg room in the rear. It is certainly on the tight side for adults, but not quite small enough to rule out long journeys - although the C3 is a car which you feel you are sitting on, rather than in.

Luggage capacity at ten cubic feet is about par for the course in this class, but the cargo area has one advantage in that it is relatively deep.

There are also a number of big car features such as remote control central locking, automatic door locking from a button on the dash, illuminated vanity mirrors and a remote control for the radio is fitted into the end of the wiper stalk.

Citroen's use of state-of-the-art multiplex wiring gives the C3 a couple of advanced features with a speed warning device and automatic windscreen wipers. But to balance that, the door mirrors are manually adjusted and the digital display is limited to time and date - there's no trip information or even an oustside temperature reading.

If that is a shortcoming then that is about all and it would be ridiculous to criticise the C3 in such a way.

Mile after mile of motoring at the minimum of cost is the rubric of any car in this day and age, and the diesel C3 passes that test with flying colours.


Citroen C3 1.4 HDi LX

Price: £9,965

Mechanical:  69bhp, 1,398cc four cylinder diesel engine driving front wheels via 5spd gearbox

Max Speed: 97mph

0-60mph: 15.4 secs

Combined mpg: 67.3

Insurance Group: 3

CO2 emissions: 110g/km

BiK rating: 18%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles; 12yrs antirust, 3yrs paint

Words: Chris Russon

Keywords: CITROEN, C3