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Technical analysis: Citroën c3


Airbumps, 17 inch wheels and a wide range of color combinations; the third series of the C3 has all it takes to repeat the success of previous generations

Duilio Damiani

Calling it a compact city car sound undoubtedly as an understatement for such a car, considering its trendsetting heritage. On the market since 2002 with more than 3.5 million units sold in the first two versions, the new generation of the greatly appreciated C3 reinvents a success story, redefining a style that met with the approval of a clientele increasingly interested in technical details and intelligent solutions. Starting with those large soft plastic inserts as side protection, introduced by Citroën on the C4 Cactus, which coupled with the wide wheel arches and wide range of color choices, give the 2017 C3 model a crossover look and feel.




Considering the standard dimensions for a vehicle in this class, the little French car works on shape and space in search for adequate room in just under 4 meters (3.99 m in length to be precise), 1.75 m. in width and a height of 1,47 m., 4 cm lower than the previous model. The new front end design of the C3 emphasizes its personality thanks to its two-tier signature lighting, with LED daytime running lights that complement the design of the dual-band front grill. Just below the headlights we find the fog lamps, framed with contrasting colors combined with other finishing touches such as the external rear view mirrors. The color scheme continues on the sides with the same color on the Airbumps, soft bands made up of six scratch-resistant cells in aliphatic thermoplastic polyurethane, which contain air, useful in protecting the sides from small bumps and abrasions, which besides giving the car an absolutely unique look, has a rather practical use, eliminating those annoying small dents ad scratches as a result of driving in and out of tight parking lots and in congested city traffic. Just a gimmick? Maybe, but one that has already been successfully experimented on the stylish C4 Cactus, confirming Citroen’s role as an innovative brand, not only technically but also in all those small details that, added together, like it or not, sets it apart from the competition. The generous wheel arches, framed by a dark outline on the full optional versions, contribute to giving a sense of solidity to the side panel, and are perfect to receive the 64 cm wheels, among the largest in this segment.

Five doors and five seats; the interior space is dominated in its front section by a clean and linear dashboard design, devoid of most auxiliary controls grouped in a practical central 7-inch touch pad with capacitive technology and vocal control, useful not only for navigation but also in both infotainment management and on-board comfort. Four different interior styles ensure an adequate level of finish to suit all tastes including a special two-tone color scheme on the steering wheel cover and dashboard strip, but only on the full optional versions. The term Advance Comfort Citroën identifies those applications that make driving the C3 a comfortable experience, driving information, ergonomic controls, wide seating area (now larger by 2 cm), leg room for the passengers and practical storage compartments. In addition, Keyless Access & Start function allow the driver to open and start the car without using a key.

The wide-angle front camera and full HD recordings, integrated at the base of the central rear view mirror, can take pictures or short videos in real-time to be shared on socials networks or as proof in case of an accident - thanks to the automatic start – on the dynamics of the impact.
All in all, also the baggage space seems adequate, with 300 liters of useful space despite the presence of the standard repair kit, which will be reduced if one opts for a donut spare wheel or a traditional spare wheel.



GLOBAL PLATFORM                                                                                                

Only two engines layout for the new C3, a petrol and a diesel option, able to cater for a broad range of performances and developed in five configurations for as many levels of power. The first is the cycle eight PureTech 1.2-liter engine, three cylinders and four valves per cylinder, available in 68, 82 and 110 hp versions, coupled to a 5-speed manual transmission or, just for the 110 hp version, an automatic EAT6 6-speed transmission. Two versions for the four-cylinder 1.6 liter BlueHDi eight valves power unit, boasting 75 and 100 hp respectively, both with manual transmission and an average declared consumption of 27 and 28.6 km/liter.

Reasonable performances, in line with its polyvalent nature, are expected, free from the extremes reserved for the most dynamic DS3 range, but still capable of more than adequate acceleration and top speeds ranging from 164 km/h for the 68 hp PureTech  to the 188 km/h for the more powerful PureTech 110, with acceleration from 0-100 km/h ranging between 14 and 9,8 seconds respectively.

Built and developed on PSA group’s platform A (previously called PF1), destined to compact and city car segments, the C3 was totally revisited. Completely redesigned to guarantee the most advanced safety and mobility standards, the C3 boasts independent suspensions, with McPherson type front suspensions and rear torsion beam and anti-roll bar, which respond more than adequately under dynamic stress. The electrically assisted steering enables a turning circle of less than 11 meters, very practical and lightweight, while the braking system benefits from four discs only in the most powerful versions, opting for a couple of traditional rear drum brakes on the entry level models of the range.

The driving experience can certainly benefit from the rich electronic equipment. Abs, Esp, Hill start assist, headlights that switch on automatically, lane departure warning system, blind spot detectors as well as an acoustic signal suggesting a break during long journeys.
Grip is guaranteed by some of the widest tires in the category, with a diameter of 640 mm for all sizes (except for the entry level 185/65 R15 620 mm of diameter), according to the versions, with tire sizes ranging between 196/65 R15 , 205/55 R16 and 205/50 R17, on 15- and 16-inch steel wheels and 16-and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Citroen’s commercial ambitions for the new C3 are obvious: repeating the success of previous generations.  In view of this a comeback in the most important international rally championships has been planned already in 2017 with the aggressive C3 WRC (a 1.6-liter 380 hp turbocharged beast), driven by Kris Meeke and ready to replicate the countless World Championship victories obtained by Sebastian Loeb with Xsara, C4 and DS3.


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