Citroën have a proud history when it comes to avant-garde design and engineering, from the original A Type of 1919, through 1933’s Montlhéry speed ring taming, world record setting, 8CV and encapsulated by Citroën’s most iconic 2CV originally launched in 1948. It’s not just the cars and vehicles manufactured by Citroën that demonstrate that certain joie de vivre but the entire ethos of the company, a fact ably shown by some of the more extravagant advertising choices made during the early days of the business. How about at the opening of the seventh Paris Motor Show in 1922 where an aircraft writes Citroën in the sky or when, between 1925 and 1934, Citroën ran an incredible advert on the Eiffel Tower, displaying it’s name in illuminated letters 30m high, using 250,000 light bulbs and 600km of wiring. Incredible.
All of which brings us to the subject in hand, the all new C3 Flair S&S PureTech 110, a Citroën in the grand tradition, a combination of Flair and engineering which have created a car which Citroën say is ‘As Unique As You Are.’ With their earlier C4 Cactus, released in 2014, incorporating Citroën’s innovative Airbump® protection system there’s a quite deliberate link between this and the C3 on test as it uses the same technology to protect its bodywork from dents and scuffs, although the panels this time consist of just seven air-filled capsules made from tough polyurethane featuring red or white surrounds, depending on the chosen roof colour.
And that’s just the start with this all new hatchback as Citroën make a great play of the customisation options available to allow your own C3 to truly represent your own personality, thoughts and dreams. Indeed, there are 9 exterior colours to chose from, 3 roof colours, and the option of a monotone body colour roof which combine with touches of colour including fog light surrounds, door mirrors and rear quarter panels. You can go with or without the excellent Airbump® panels although I can’t see why you would want to, so integral are they to the overall look and feel to the car and to top it all there’s also an optional panoramic sunroof which floods the cabin with natural light creating the impression that you’re completely surrounded by both space and time.
Complimenting the superb colour palette available are clever touches that delight and intrigue in equal measures created with bold choices all around the body shell. The steep front of the car displays the Citroën’s clever headlights emerging from the iconic badge and grille, whilst each further detail, Citoën say, from the lighting signature with LED daytime-running lights, wheel arch extensions, side Airbump® panels and stunning 3D rear light clusters contribute to the C3’s Unique and assertive styling. And with such distinctive looks, the particular C3 Flair S&S PureTech 110 manual on test looks superb in it’s metallic Perla Nera Black paintwork, white highlights on it’s Airbump® panels and stunning optional 17 inch diamond cut ‘Cross’ alloy wheels. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is a car that deserves that all important rearward glance as you walk away.
Inside and the cabin compliments the exterior styling beautifully, with the same attention to detail and mix of old and new technology that we’ve come to expect from Citroën these days, they’ve creating a comfortable and contemporary interior for the modern consumer. When looking inwards to create the perfect driving environment Citroën used Four core themes to create the perfect driving environment: soft contact points and noise levels, interior space and versatility, intuitive and useful technology and pure, calm comfort all round. What I really like regarding the interior is how the C3 combines traditional materials such as the beautifully finished overstitched door straps with the high quality, soft touch modern plastics and technologies that surround you.
With air vents, door card detailing and numerous little touches that reflects the Airbump® technology that’s so important to Citroën and the look of the C3, it’s no surprise to find that same level of care and attention being applied to the technology and driving aids present. Helpfully, the Citroën’s variety of technologies are easily controlled through the central 7 inch touch screen making it easy to set the car and it’s features up exactly as you would like.
Take a look at the following list: Hill Start Assist – When you pull away on steep gradients, Hill Start Assist holds the car for 2 seconds, giving you time to pull away safely and smoothly. Lane Departure Warning System – If the new Citroën C3 crosses a solid or intermittent white line without the indicators being activated, the Lane Departure Warning System sends clear visual and audio alerts to the driver. Coffee Break Alert – This system reminds the driver to take a break on long journeys, for example after 2 hours at average speeds over 40 mph. Speed Limit Recognition And Recommendations – Designed to recognise speed limits and display them clearly to the driver on the dashboard. Cruise Control/Speed Limiter With Speed Limit Setting – The recommended figures can be set in the cruise control and speed limiter for complete peace of mind.
And that’s not all as the C3 also offers: Keyless Entry And Start – Because Keyless Entry and Start recognises you as you approach, you can unlock, start or lock the Citroën’s C3 while the key is still in your pocket or bag. New Active Safety Brake – This new emergency braking technology minimises the risk of collision. It starts working from just over 3 mph and is designed to sense pedestrians, moving and fixed obstacles. If the system detects a collision risk, it sends a clear warning and if the driver doesn’t respond it automatically applies the brakes. New Driver Attention Warning – By analysing the direction of the C3’s travel, this reassuring system can detect if the driver has lost concentration and sends an audible and visual alert. Reversing Camera – Shift into reverse and the Reversing Camera with parking sensors shows a clear view of what’s behind you on the 7 inch touchscreen. Colour guidelines show exactly where any obstacles are and help you manoeuvre around them more easily. Blind Spot Monitoring System – A really useful safety innovation on quicker roads and motorways, the Blind Spot Monitoring System alerts the driver to vehicles approaching from behind in the blind spot, using an orange warning light mounted in the door mirror.
If it’s ease of use you want then look no further, upon driving away you’re fully aware that this Citroën is going to do exactly what it says on the tin in providing you and your passengers a comfortable and simple to use experience. Space is fine for up to five adults and their luggage whilst the C3’s suspension does what Citroën historically does best, providing you with a soft and forgiving ride quality that somehow still behaves itself when the hackles and speed begin to rise and the lanes become twisting and fun. Pressing on and the C3 allows you to accurately track the road ahead and place the car where you want. Braking mid corner causes no untoward moments whilst the frugal PureTech 110 S&S three cylinder, direct injection, turbo charged engine gets on with the job in hand, providing a surprising amount of forward power and revs to play with. Producing 109bhp at 5500rpm and 151 ft/lb torque at 1500rpm yet still giving up to a claimed 61.4mpg on the combined cycle. Impressive indeed.
Overall then, the latest C3 is a further step towards the mainstream for Citroën with technology, roadholding, economy and practicality all proving to be quite excellent. What really impresses, apart from the integration of the side Airbump® panels into the overall styling of this superb looking hatchback, is the integration of the disparate parts that make an automobile into a cohesive whole. The fact that the C3 can be turned into something unique and tailored exactly to your own tastes from the numerous colours and styling options available is an added bonus. The Citroën C3 Flair S&S PureTech 110 manual, a job which Citroën have completed very well indeed.
Where will you go?