REVIEW DATE: 03 Oct 2007
Adding a welcome touch of colour to the Citroen C3 Pluriel range, it's the Kiwi Special Edition. Jonathan Crouch reports.
There's something quite refreshing about the concept of an affordable little convertible for less than £12,500. Particularly when it comes with air conditioning and black leather upholstery. You might not be surprised to learn that the car in question is a Citroen, the special edition Kiwi version of its C3 Pluriel.
The actual price of this car is £14,695 but a range of current offers should enable you to get your hands on one for just under the £12,500 mark. That sum buys you the aforementioned black upholstery and air conditioning, plus what Citroen call the car's 'eye-catching' yellowy/green metallic 'Kiwi' body colour (hence the name), the only hue this car comes in. Additional features include leather trim for the door handles and gearstick, plus alloy wheels.
Normal Pluriel features include electric folding door mirrors, variable power steering, remote central locking with deadlocks, four electric windows and a CD player. Moreover, an impressive 4-star Euro NCAP rating ensures that the C3 Pluriel Kiwi not only looks good, but is one of the safest small cars around too.
A supermini during the winter months and a convertible during the summer, the C3 Pluriel offers customers real flexibility. With the roof up, the Citroen offers space for four occupants and a generous sized boot, yet the opportunity to choose from a variety of set-ups, including the option of removing the roof arches, ensures that passengers can enjoy real wind-in-the-hair-motoring come the warmer weather. Power comes courtesy of a 75hp 1.4i petrol engine that returns in excess of 52mpg in out-of-town motoring.
Don't expect road-burning performance because you're not going to get it from this or any C3 Pluriel for that matter. The 0-60mph sprint takes just under 14s and there's a 99mph top speed but you don't really notice the lethargic progress when you're at the wheel because the Pluriel doesn't encourage spirited driving. The chassis isn't the stiffest and there's always the suspicion that if you did hurl it at a corner, you might either topple over or come out the other side minus a few pieces of extraneous trim.
"Want a new convertible supermini on a sub-£12,500 budget? You're going to be out of luck virtually anywhere but at your local Citroen dealership.."
The Pluriel is at its best being driven sedately with the featherweight steering and the soft suspension making for a suitably relaxing experience. The engine noise is well suppressed too and even wind noise with the roof up isn't as pronounced as you might imagine, although it's less hushed with the centre section folded back. Down on the Cote d'Azur, wealthy individuals pay well over £100,000 for high performance supercars and other exotica so they can crawl along the sea front at a snail's pace in it. With the C3 Pluriel Kiwi, you can get a model that could have been built for exactly this purpose but at a tenth of the cost. It won't even hit your bank account hard when you're driving it - buyers can reasonably expect to average over 40mpg even in town and the CO2 emissions are 163g/km.
The driving position is unusual due to the fact you sit ducked into the car with the curved windscreen apparently soaring overhead. Equipment levels are about what you would expect, all Pluriel models featuring electric windows all round, electric mirrors, remote central locking a CD player and an electrical operated canvas roof. Safety levels on the C3 Pluriel are equally high, with anti lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, four airbags and four 3-point inertia reel seatbelts, as well as a specially stiffened body shell, reinforced windscreen pillars and roof arches plus strengthened seat backs and headrests.
One key drawback of the Pluriel's design is that the bulky roof rails cannot be stored in the car upon removal, instead residing in their holder in your garage. Therefore, you don't have the option of pulling over to the roadside and dropping the roof to form a full convertible as you can in most other drop-top models. Once you have left the rails at home, you're committed to open top motoring for the day, come rain or shine. One suspects we won't see too many Pluriels plying our roads in full convertible mode.
There's a reasonable amount of space in the back for two, although three would be a tight squeeze as both knee room and shoulder space would be at a premium. The rear screen folds into the spare wheel well, thus signifying a lack of said wheel. Rather than rely on the commonplace - and usually quite useless - puncture repair aerosol, Citroen has done the right thing and fitted the Pluriel with Michelin PAX run flat tyres. Cars stranded on the roadside are never a great advertisement. Quite how the various water seals and roof parts stand up to the wear and tear of real world motoring remains to be seen but at first glance they appear quite well fabricated.
There are drawbacks to the C3 Pluriel but these should always be framed within the context of its price. If you want a new convertible supermini on a sub-£12,500 budget, you're going to be out of luck virtually anywhere but at your local Citroen dealership. The Kiwi special edition model enhances the Pluriel's case a further notch or two with a desirable set of cosmetic extras that may not be up to French Riviera standards but will cut a dash on your local high street.
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