Citroen C3 Flair
By Bill McCarthy
Standing out in the ferociously competitive supermini sector takes some doing, inhabited as it is by some fine cars. But Citroen has never had much trouble in that area and the latest C3 continues that in spades with a funky new makeover.
Quirky, could often be code for different but rubbish, but not in the case of the French firm, which always prided itself on offering an attractive alternative to the mainstream.
This latest model retains that funky individuality for those looking for an alternative with a raft of styling changes, 97 colour customisation combinations available and 11 driver assistance systems.
There are seven body colours available which can be mated with a choice of four bi-tone roof colours and a choice of colour for the three roof decals.
While still a small hatchback, it has the look of a mini SUV, with redesigned LED light clusters and the rubber airbumps, first seen on its sibling the Cactus, large alloys and repurposed signature Citroen chevrons. It has a real road presence for such a small car.
As well as a styling accessory, the airbumps have a functional purpose, protecting bodywork from the likes of runaway supermarket trolleys.
The styling continues inside with colourful touches such as door pulls, contrasting door bins, and a generally funky layout. It features newly-designed and comfortable ‘Advance Comfort’ padded seats which give the impression of sitting in an armchair.
A central seven-inch touchscreen controls navigation, infotainment and smartphone connectivity, whether Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, while USB and Aux connectivity is also provided. General switchgear is logical and less fiddly than on previous models, while binnacle features an instrument cluster with white LCD and analogue gauges and satin chrome surround. Many functions are also housed within the multi adjustable, multi-function steering wheel.
The dash is finished in a faux wood veneer and fittings are of a solid plastic rather than soft touch materials, but gives a neat individual touch.
On the road, the three cylinder 1.2 litre engine has plenty of character and grunt. The raspy three pot responds well to the touch of the accelerator, whether dashing around city streets for longer runs on the motorway. Mated to a slick six speed gearbox, the 1199cc power unit propels it 60 mph in 10.5 seconds with impressive economy approaching 50mpg, when driven most economically.
Despite the throaty rasp of the three cylinders, it feels pretty refined with suspension on the soft side for passenger comfort and noise generally suppressed, although there is some intrusion from the large 17-inch wheels. So the handling is not quite as sharp as some competitors, although barely noticeable to your average driver. Light steering however does mean the car is very manoeuvrable, particularly when parking.
In practical terms, space for front occupants is good with decent head and legroom, but it is tight in the back for adults for any lengthy journey. Boot space is also generous with 300 litres available, expanding to 992 litres with the rear seats folded.
This range-topping model, at more than £20k, offers plenty for your money with 17-inch alloy wheels, dark tinted rear windows, Citroën Connect Navigation system, power folding door mirrors, auto air conditioning, automatic rain-sensing front windscreen wipers, automatic lights, and Welcome and ‘Follow-me-home’ headlights and reversing camera and sensors, auto wipers, automatic lights, and Welcome and ‘Follow-me-home’ headlights
It has comprehensive safety features including, assisted braking, driver attention alert, collision alert, auto headlights, six airbags, lane departure warning, speed sign recognition and coffee break alert.
It’s quite a package for the money and for those looking for something a bit different . . .
Citroën C3 Flair Plus PureTech 110
Mechanical: 110hp, 1199cc, 3-cylinder, turbocharged petrol-driven engine with six-speed manual transmission
Max speed: 121mph
0-62mph: 10.5 seconds
Combined MPG: 42.4-50.1mpg 36.7
Insurance group: 16
C02 emissions: 123g/km
Bik rating: 29%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles