The 2021 Citroen C3 is not the kind of car most people buy by choice. The C3 competes against an ever-growing pool of sub compact hatchbacks – such as the Hyundai i20, Volkswagen Polo, Mazda 2 and Peugeot 208 –for buyers who require a new car but can’t afford anything beyond the most basic transportation.
With the redesign of the C3, though, Citroen tried to give buyers more reasons to consider its most diminutive offering. The C3 now sports a more stylish exterior and more tech than ever. Given how well the Citroen C5 functions as simple, basic, transportation and an entry into the SUV market, we were eager to see if Citroen could work the same magic on the 2021 C3.
To find out if the C3 lived up to those modest expectations,we grabbed the key fob to a PureTech Shine model, the top-spec in the two-tier C3 line-up. Our launch drive’s R324,900 price split the difference between it,and the R269,900 price of the entry Pure Tech Feel model.
The pint-sized hatch borrows styling elements from the larger C5, including, a “floating” roof visually separated from the rest of the body by blacked-out pieces, and Citroen’s ubiquitous grille. The C3 also looks longer, higher, and wider than before – the classic recipe for improving the appearance of a car. The design is clean, avoiding exaggerated elements like the Toyota Yaris’ massive grille, and yes, it’s distinctly Citroen. It also comes with 16” Alloy Wheels, Auto Wipers, Rear Parking Sensors and the added twist of bi-tone body colour options.
Like the exterior, the C3’s interior cribs a lot from its bigger brother, the C5. The dashboard has the same horizontal design,incorporating the central touchscreen into a hockey-stick-shaped trim element.Citroen wanted to get away from the bulbous centre stack used in the previous-generation C3, and it’s hard to argue with that decision. The interface for the 7” touchscreen is basic but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available to offer an extension of your smartphone.
When it comes to comfort, the Citroen C3 is a great car to ride in, as long as you’re sitting in front; it offers more front headroom and legroom than competitor models like the Volkswagen Polo, Kia Rio, and Toyota Yaris, but it’s at the back of the pack when it comes to rear-seat headroom and legroom.
The 2021 Citroen C3 will get you where you want to go in relative comfort. Just don’t expect to get there in a hurry.
The engine options available on the 2021 C3 is the base 1.2-litre PureTech manual engine, which sends 60 kW of power to the front wheels while the top, Shine, trim level comes standard with a 6-speed automatic transmission that’s good for 81kW.
The power and torque figures are respectable for this segment and are adequate for a car of this size. However, accelerating uphill and overtaking cars on anything other than a downhill stretch of highway seemed to overwhelm the little three-cylinder engine. Flooring the throttle created a lot of noise but to a great spruce of movement.
The tiny turbo engine is quite frugal with Citroen claiming 6.0-litres / 100 km traveled so no, it's really no rocket. But, what it lacks in genuine driving fun, the 2021 Citroen C3 makes up for in style and tech. Unlike the previous generation, you will not be embarrassed to be seen in the 2021 model. Generous front-passenger space and boot room mean the C3 is more than just a pretty face, too. The long list of standard and available driver-assist tech features is also unusual for a car in this price range, even if the infotainment system is still fairly basic.
Granted, part of that is down to the C3 being by far the newest design in its segment. Other automakers may add these features as they redesign their subcompact hatchbacks. Should you buy one? Yes. A Kia Rio or Hyundai i20 may be more fun to drive, but the C3’s stylish exterior, an array of colours, practical packaging, and array of tech features more than make up for that.
Words: Papi Mabele