So, Citroën quietly slipped back into our market in October 2019. Over the past two years, the brand has offered three vehicles in South Africa – the compact C3 hatch, the C3 crossover and the mid-sized C5 crossover.
This week I spent some time with the their C3; like a wind of change as they say! The C3 brings an aesthetic breath of fresh air into the world of compact hatchbacks. Fashionable, the C3 is characterised by a trendy and optimistic design, animated by coloured inserts and graphic elements like the Airbump® panels. These Airbump® panels – air-filled bumps with a scratch-proof surface – are not only a Citroën signature feature that offer personality, but they protect the vehicle too.
The Airbump® panels also have a white or red graphic motif, depending on the version you order.
The unique shape of the C3 is charismatic with a bold front face and generous curves, which give it a powerful and energetic stance. Its smooth lines, its graphic signature and its colours make it stand out from the more conventional crowd.
Locally, the C3 has three colour options available: Polar White, Platinum Grey or Soft Sand. These three colours are combined with the Sport Red Roof. These combinations reinforce the car’s unique edge.
The C3 is designed to feel like you are at home when you are at the wheel – those big comfy seats are visceral examples. The interior style is inspired by non-automotive worlds, with touches such as the luggage-style door handles and textiles on the dashboard. It’s a rectangle haven, a style cue that’s borrowed from the Airbump®, which is carried through into interior design elements. A first, in my recollection, are the off-white storage compartments that contrast with the items being stored to make it easier to find them.
Space for four in comfort and a boot volume of nearly 300 litres!
Start the trend-setter up and you’ll hear the faint sound of 3-cylinder – a thrumming sound that warms my heart. A 1.2-litre churning out a modest 60kW and matted to a sloppy 5-speed manual gearbox. This particular model is badged a Feel, which offers ample mod cons like cruise control, lane keep assist, a touchscreen infotainment system that operates the climate control, Bluetooth connectivity available with Apple CarPlayTM, Android Auto and MirrorLink® and others. You’ll still need to turn on your headlamps and windscreen wipers as well as wind down the rear windows – these are all old-school manual features. Or, if you have an extra R50 000 and love an automatic, opt for the Shine model. This model offers a more powerful version of the same engine, but boasts an extra 21kW due to a turbocharger and an enjoyable 6-speed self-shifting gearbox.
Being French, the ride is soft, supple and relaxed. It’s not a dynamic drive – leave that to the Fiesta. But comfortable it is! A loveable vehicle that offers a friendly-natured driving characteristic; it’s easy to love with and blends well into day-to-day city motoring.
In a sea of a dozen competitors the C3 offers its own unique take on compact city hatch motoring. The C3 is competitively priced albeit the Shine model’s turbocharged motor and automatic gearbox make for a better investment in hassle-free motoring.
Ford Fiesta, Honda Jazz, Hyundai i20, Kia Rio, Mazda2, Nissan Micra, Opal Corsa, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, Toyota Yaris and VW Polo
Feel 1.2 60kW manual R274 900
Shine 1.2 81kW automatic R334 900
Warranty and Service Plan
The C3 is sold with a 5-year/100 000km service plan. For those of you who are nervous about buying French, Citroën’s come standard Peace of Mind promise: Courtesy Car, Citroën Parts Basket, Complimentary Vehicle Health Check. Microdot - Quick and easy identification in the event of theft.
Shine 1.2 81kW automatic R334 900
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