JOHANNESBURG – Citroen’s freshly facelifted C3 premium hatchback has launched in South Africa and it’s brimming with features and technologies. Originally launched in November 2016 in international markets, Citroën says the latest C3 gave a new impetus to the brand by ushering in a new stylistic identity that can now be seen on the range’s current models and confirming a true Citroën brand signature: comfort.
Since its launch five years ago, more than 1 million C3 hatchbacks have found homes around the world.
The latest versions come well-equipped and what I found most exceptional on the launch drive this week, that took place around Gauteng and the North West province, was the vehicle’s ride comfort. It’s genuinely one of the most comfortable cars in this segment, thanks to compliant suspension and wonderful seats that feel soft and comfy. The roads we traversed are arguably some of the worst in the country when it comes to potholes, broken surfaces, uneven layers of tar and undulations. The C3 just gobbled it all up while maintaining predictable handling characteristics.
The driver’s seat is well-placed and it can be adjusted to achieve a comfortable and confidence-inspiring view from the cabin and thanks to large windows it’s easy to position the vehicle in tight parking lots and in congested city traffic. The lightweight electric power steering system also makes the car feel agile and nimble without feeling over assisted or vague. There’s no pretending to be sporty here either, although it does have decent poke in turbo format, as the cabin is catering to comfort and convenience.
In the past, Citroën’s have had rather oddball interiors, and this one has its quirks too, but things are a lot more ergonomic this time around. Sure, you have to dive into the on board infotainment system for things like aircon settings and traction control settings, but this is becoming more commonplace as manufacturers look to make the entire car work through a central tablet or touchscreen. I found the Citroën’s systems easy to understand and use and once you’ve paired your phone or connected it to the car using a cable (for Android Auto or CarPlay) you’ll have no issues streaming your favourite music or replying to Whatsapp messages with voice control.
We drove the high-spec Shine model, which comes with chunky 16-inch alloy wheels and tyres and AirBump technology to help prevent those dents in parking lots from opening doors too wide. All models, however, come equipped with the advanced comfort seats and safety spec such as a coffee break timer that alerts you to take a break if you’ve been driving for more than two consecutive hours.
Other safety features you get with the C3 include ABS, EBA, EBD, TCS and ESP. Our Shine model also had the Citroën Speed Limit Recognition and Recommendation technology that reads speed limit signs for you, and communicates them via the driver’s display, while the Cruise Control also monitors speed limits and recommends speed changes accordingly. So if you’re travelling on the highway and the speed limit drops from 120km/h to 100km/h, the car will prompt you to reduce speed accordingly and by tapping the cruise control ’resume’ button twice, it will lower the car’s speed to the legal speed limit for that zone of the highway.
If you’re going for the entry level model, you’ll get it in Feel specification with a naturally aspirated 60kW 1.2 PureTech engine and five-speed manual box. We only drove the turbocharged version of this engine which comes with 81kW of oomph and it’s mated to six-speed automatic gearbox.
I found the car to be more than capable of cruising on the highway without any fuss whatsoever from the engine or transmission and it’s also quite light on fuel, returning 8l/100km on the brisk launch drive. Interior space was plenty and even taller adults will find the rear seats comfortable enough for short journeys.
If you’re in the market for a compact B-segment vehicle and you have no interest in buying a Volkswagen Polo, this Citroën C3 might be the ideal model for you to consider as it comes standard with everything you’ll need to make life on the road easy and safe. You might have some reservations about buying a Citroën based on hearsay around depreciation, reliability and parts pricing, however, most modern B-segment hatchbacks are depreciating fast as consumers look to jump into equivalent sized SUVs and crossover vehicles.
For what it is, the latest C3 is a fantastic compact hatchback that really deserves your attention, perhaps even if you just take one for a test drive to experience that comfort that I’m taking about. It glides on the road with a serenity that reminds me of the Golf V and it’s built well, with good quality plastics and materials. Take one for a twirl before you go for the mainstream on this one.
MODEL RANGE and PRICING
Citroën C3 1.2 Pure Tech Feel 60kW – R 269 900 (5-spd manual)
Citroën C3 1.2T Pure Tech Shine 81kW – R 324 900 (6-spd automatic)
All models come with a Citroen Serenity three-year/three-service service plan that can be upgraded to a 5-year/100 000km maintenance plan.