Citroen C3 Review

Lots of character, comfort and customisation options give the Citroen C3 some unique appeal

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Distinctive design
  • Plenty of customisation options
  • Comfortable ride
  • Restricted rear legroom
  • Disappointing reliability record
  • Leans in corners
Citroen C3 prices from £6,000.
Finance from £135.09 / month.

The design might be more shock than chic, but dull doesn’t really get a look in with the Citroen C3.

This small Ford Fiesta-sized car grabs attention with its chunky design, oddly-shaped front lights and - on higher-specification cars - the plastic strip of air bumps that’s meant to protect against scratches.

A unique interior design, with distinctive air vents and contrasting colour options, also appears more stylish than much of the competition.

It gives the C3 some character that eludes more straitlaced rivals, such as the Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza, Kia Rio and Skoda Fabia.

The design is just the start because the Citroen C3 does things a little differently to other small cars, and it’s mainly down to comfort.

The optional airbump strips down the side of the car are designed to reduce stress over small bumps in supermarket car parks. A built-in dashcam is also available, so you won’t have to worry about proving who’s to blame in the event of a crash.

A 7in touchscreen is included with all but entry-level cars. It controls virtually everything in the car, which creates a calming, minimalist interior, but only if you’re not infuriated at having to dab the screen to adjust the ventilation controls.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto software enables you to use phone apps through the screen, including mapping, so sat-nav isn’t necessary, as long as you have enough data allowance. However, owners have reported several problems with the car’s electrics, with some sort of gremlin affecting one in five drivers - a rate that’s vastly higher than average.

The C3’s seats are softer than you’ll find in most cars; designed to appeal if you like a comfy armchair, and it has been engineered to soak up jolts from potholes or speed bumps as a priority.

It helps to make the Citroen relaxing to drive, although some deep potholes and gaps in the road are still jarring. It doesn’t quite match the standard of the most comfortable small cars, which include the Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Fabia.

The focus on comfortable, soft suspension means that the C3 leans more than average in corners, which won’t appeal to families with carsick children. The setup also makes it feel cumbersome in corners, without the ability to change direction sharply that you’ll find in a Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza or similarly-distinctive Mini Hatchback.

Inside, it’s spacious in the front, and is particularly airy if you opt for the optional sunroof and higher-specification interiors with bright contrasting colours. The news is less good for any adults in the back, where legroom is limited. A 300-litre boot is average for this type of car, but there’s a deep lip, which you have to lift items over and then drop them down into the car.

For extra practicality, it’s worth looking at the distinctive Citroen C3 Aircross. It’s a crossover, using the same mechanical parts as the C3, but combining these with extra height and more practicality - including a larger boot. Like the standard C3, the C3 Aircross is designed for comfort and has an unusually smooth ride, which is rare for small crossovers, such as the Volkswagen T-Roc, Hyundai Kona and Seat Arona.

It’s hard to beat the standard C3 on price, though. Mid-range cars cost around £15,000, before discounts cut the price further. That drops to less than £10,000 - or £140 per month - on the used market.

The C3 was awarded a four star safety rating by the independent Euro NCAP organisation in 2017, missing out on a fifth star partly because an automatic emergency braking system (that Citroen calls active city brake) is an option on most of the range. it comes with two Isofix mounting points for child seats in the back.

Key facts

Warranty 3 years / 60,000 miles
Boot size 300 litres
Width 1749mm
Height 3996mm
Length 1474mm
Tax £140-200 in the first year, £140 thereafter


  • January 2017 The current Citroen C3 goes on sale in the UK.
  • January 2018 Elle special edition cars go on sale, based on Feel specification with grey roof, 17in alloy wheels and pink exterior highlights, as well as a grey and pink fabric dashboard panel and rear parking sensors.

Citroen C3 Engines

Petrol: PureTech 68, PureTech 82, PureTech 110 Diesel: Blue HDi 75, Blue HDi 100

Buyers can choose from three petrol and two diesel engines. Put simply, the more you pay, the more power you get.

The least-expensive entry-level cars are only available with a petrol PureTech 68 engine. It’s for those who aren’t in a rush to get anywhere, with acceleration from 0-62mph in a lengthy 14 seconds.

Apart from the price, there’s not a lot going for this car as it’s not exceptionally cheap to insure, as it’s in insurance group 8; an entry-level Fiesta is in cheaper group 2. Fuel economy is around 50mg in real-world driving, according to the Equa Index, which estimates mpg based on public road testing.

The PureTech 82 has the same fuel economy figure - both officially and in real-world tests. The extra power reduces the 0-62mph acceleration time to 12.8 sec, which is just enough to manage on British roads, although you’ll need to change down a gear and rev hard to keep up when joining the motorway, for example.

If you can stretch to it, the most powerful petrol engine in the C3 is the one to go for - unfortunately it can only be fitted to top-of-the-range Flair or special edition models. Acceleration from 0-62mph is less than ten seconds and you won’t need to rev it as hard, which helps to reduce noise. In real-world driving, you can expect around 47mpg from this engine, whether you opt for a manual or automatic gearbox. This is the only engine with which the latter is available.

The BlueHDi diesels both return around 58mpg in real-world driving, which is a decent leap over the petrol engines. Carbon dioxide emissions are 95g/km or less, helping to keep company car tax under control for business users.

The BlueHDi 75 appears slow on paper, but delivers power without the need to rev it hard, resulting in steady but reasonable performance. The BlueHDi 100 motor delivers power in a similar way and is faster too. This makes it the best option for higher-mileage drivers, where its fuel economy brings significant savings. It’s a bit noisy when you’re accelerating, though.



Official fuel economy


Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed

PureTech 68






PureTech 82






PureTech 110






Blue HDi 75






Blue HDi 100






Citroen C3 Trims

Touch, Feel, Flair, Flair Nav Edition, Elle Edition

The C3 comes in three main trim levels with some additional special editions also being added for limited periods.

The standard equipment on the base Touch trim is relatively basic, but does contain some very useful safety features. Included are 15in steel wheels, a digital radio controlled with standard buttons and Bluetooth to connect your phone wirelessly There’s a cruise control and speed limiter, as well as safety technology including a warning if you drift out of your lane and an alert if the car senses that you’re tired - based on your steering.

The entry-level trim is lacking some key features, though, which makes it worth opting for a Feel model, if you have the budget (it’s a £2,500 premium when new). Most prominent is the 7in touchscreen, which removes the buttons of Touch models for a more minimalist look. Controlled through this display is climate control air conditioning, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which make it simple to use your phone apps on screen - including maps for navigation.

Electric windows in the front and back are added to Feel models too, along with an adjustable steering wheel and electrically-adjustable door mirrors. Outside, LED daytime running lights make the car look smarter, as do larger 16in alloy wheels and a contrasting roof colour.

Flair models add some of the car’s distinctive features, including plastic airbumps on the side of the car, as well as the built-in ConnectedCam dashcam. There are coloured panels around the front foglights and door mirrors in the same colour as the roof.

A reversing camera and parking sensors make manoeuvring easier; a leather steering wheel, tinted rear windows, plus automatic headlights and windscreen wipers move the car upmarket.

Flair Nav is at the top of the range, bringing sat-nav and automatic emergency braking as standard. Intelligent beam headlights enable the C3 to automatically switch between main and dipped beam to avoid dazzling other drivers.

The interior is much brighter thanks to red outlines and contrasting panels. Outside are larger 17in alloy wheels and metallic paint.

Citroen C3 Reliability and warranty

The latest Citroen C3 has performed poorly in customer satisfaction polls, and was placed a lowly 72 out of 75 in the 2018 hasn’t performed brilliantly in the 2018 Auto Express Driver Power survey.

The most common complaint was electrical issues, which might not leave you stranded at the roadside, but would prove irritating on most models that rely heavily on the touchscreen. One in five drivers who responded to the survey registered some sort of problem.

The standard Citroen warranty of three years and 60,000 miles is only standard and considerably less than you’ll find from Toyota, Hyundai and Kia.

Used Citroen C3

Year-old Citroen C3 models start at less than £9,000 - or £140 a month on finance, and include well-specified Feel models, with the mid-range 82hp petrol engine. These are worth getting for their much-improved specification over entry-level cars, and the huge savings - their list price starts at £14,695.

Even larger savings are available on nearly-new diesel and higher-specification cars with less than 500 miles on the clock, which come close to £5,000.

This includes Elle special edition models, which are based on Feel cars. They have a grey and pink fabric insert in the dashboard, which is nicer to touch than the hard plastic of other models - but probably tough to keep clean. Parking sensors, pink exterior highlights and 17in alloy wheels are also included.