With its distinctive design and driving comfort, the new Citroen C3 hatchback signals a wind of change blowing through the motoring scene.
The brand is making a big comeback since its local departure three years ago with a trio of new models in hatch and SUV form.
Back with a bang
"With its unique body style, personalised features and connectivity, the new C3 is a bold, fresh, modern car. It illustrates the ongoing Citroën product offensive," said Xavier Peugeot, Citroën Brand Product Director.
The C3's boasts a full range of high-efficiency PureTech petrol engines available in a 1.2 PureTech 60kW naturally aspirated engine fitted with a 5-speed manual gearbox and a 1.2 PureTech 81kW Turbocharged engine mated to a 6-speed EAT gearbox.
Wheels24's Janine Van der Post is currently attending the local launch, look out for her driving impressions of the new Citroen range later this week.
Citroen managing director Xavier Gobille says the French automaker is here to stay, and this is not just a new model launch, but a re-introduction of the brand, along with Peugeot earlier in September.
Van der Post says: "I have just driven the new C3 1.2 PureTech, and first impressions are surprising. The C3 is available in two derivatives, and pricing for this range starts from R239 900 for the PureTech 60kW manual model. The 61kW PureTech auto model is priced at R289 900.
"The C4 Cactus was one of the last models Citroen launched in SA before it had later announced it was exiting the local market. It was the first time we had seen the rubberised inserts on the exterior of the vehicle. The little C3 follows suite.
"The 1.2 Puretech model mated to the 6-speed EAT gearbox is surprisingly punchy, and there's hardly any turbo lag at all. Hit the sport button and you instantaneously feel a slight boost while driving. The drive was extremely short so I can't share anything more. Hopefully we'll get it on test soon to explore the vehicle more.
"For a compact entry, spaciousness is suffice, you don't feel too cramped in the rear, and the boot is rather large too - it can easily take a couple of medium-sized suitcases and a couple of backpacks. The interior is quirky in the auto version with the gear lever markings , and sport button, situated at the bottom of the centre console just above the cupholders. While it looks good on the interior, the feel of the dash and equipment on the facia does not feel as premium as it looks.
"I am interested to see what the larger C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross will offer later during the launch."
Its exterior is striking featuring a two-tone combination with a red roof, foglight surround, wing mirrors and rear C-pillar graphic. The look is further enhanced with the presence of larger wheels that aid in drive comfort.
There is an option of a bigger 17-inch wheel on the Shine model. LED daytime running lamps add that extra dimension for the modern factor. Buyers have the option of choosing between a choice of three body colours - Polar White, Sand and Platinum Grey to match the red roof.
Something for everyone
It also features air-filled bumps with a scratch-proof surface previously seen on the C4 Cactus to protect the body from dings and scratches. These Airbump panels have a red graphic, to compliment the red roof and red mirrors.
Just like its C3 Aircross SUV sibling, the hatch sports a robust posture while at the same time highlighting its comfort on the road the Citroën Advanced Comfort programme. The seats provide excellent lumbar support, made with use of quality materials.
Advanced ergonomics provide a smooth driving experience with ingenious stowage facilities for passengers to make use of. Family trips or shopping is made easier with boot space of up to 300-litres.
While the exterior is attractive on its own, getting inside the car is a different thing. The basic interior design principles consist of space and consistency that is emphasised by the horizontal, monolithic dashboard also touched by the red theme on the outside.
Interactive and responsive interface is done through its 7” touchscreen tablet, providing quick and easy access to a host of vehicle functions. It comes with an array of useful assistance, safety and comfort technologies like Mirror Screen technology, Hill-Start Assist, Lane Departure Warning System and a Driver Attention Alert.
The C3 comes with a 5-year/100 000km Warranty & Service plan across the range.
Compiled by: Robin Classen / Janine Van der Post