By : RACHNA TYAGI
Finally, you don’t have to sell your kidneys in order to buy something that is small, tasteful and of European lineage. We’re talking about a hatch that is not your typical, run off the mill types. You guessed it! The latest offering from Citroen’s C-Cubed Family, the C3, is all that and more except that it is designed and Made in India! You may want to test drive it before you put your money down on a hatch that is only going to make you second guess your decision in the coming months. The C3 is Charismatic, Changeable, and Colorful, and for all those who prefer standing out from the crowd and being trendsetters rather than trend followers, the Citroen C3, may be right up your alley. Available with two engine options – Puretech 82 and Puretech 110, both of which we drove, there’s much to like and applaud on the C3. Here’s what we think of it…
First things first – the looks. The C3 is definitely a head turner thanks to the bold Zesty Orange color that has been put to good use on the hatch. Whether it is on the roof, on the inserts in the side claddings, the fog lamp housing, or on the clip-on case of the ORVMs, it is a unique touch and gives the C3 a distinct look. The famous Citroen grille in chrome is flanked by headlamps and DRLs (Upward and downward facing), which give the C3’s front fascia a premium look. We especially loved the black-colored mesh grille with its elongated honeycomb pattern which looks both – trendy and upmarket. That along with the faux skid plate in a silver-colored finish add to the premium look of the C3. Besides this, we also loved the scoops on the bonnet and on the roof which give the C3 its quintessential Cherubic identity. Besides, the roof also gets roof-rails and a standard car antenna, which in our opinion adds more of the Classic Charm to this hatch. Not to mention the 14-inch alloys which we thought looked really Classy on the C3. The rear looks clean and minimalistic with just the Citroen logo and the C3 badging – both in an elegant chrome finish. The Zesty orange inserts in the rear bumper are attention grabbing but not more than those gorgeous tail lamps which is definitely the piece de resistance on the C3. We also loved the way the boot has been shaped, in terms of the opening and the way the rear bumper has been designed to hold the number plate. It all blends in very stylishly. And of course, it comes with 315-litres of boots space which is enough to swallow up a couple of travel bags and other camping gear.
Inside, you’re greeted with a cheerful cabin which flaunts a rather large Zesty orange design flourish on the dash (Front passenger side) which you may or may not like, depending solely on your taste of materials and color preferences. However, there’s good News! For those who don’t really care for it in the Zesty orange color, can opt for the Anodized Grey color. Meanwhile, we’re of the opinion that while these colors and designs may look different from what we are used to seeing traditionally on different cars, in this part of the world, it won’t be long before it starts growing on you. We loved the 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system very much which is not only large (Even for people with big hands), but also fabulously well-Constructed. In fact, we tugged at it a couple of times, just to admire its solid build quality – a welcome change from some of the cheap and flimsy ones out there. The speakers also did a fine job in keeping us entertained and we quite enjoyed driving the C3 around in Goa listening to the songs that the Citroen team had specially curated for us. The seats boast a rather expensive-looking water-proof fabric with an Indian design touch to it. It is well-finished and fits snugly on the seats without any unwanted movement. The best part – it is not black! The beautiful grey looks elegant and the orange stitching on it is a stark contrast which indeed looks like a great amount of detail has gone into every aspect of making the C3 stand out and we don’t just mean visually. The front seats are beautifully contoured and you sit tall on the rear seats. We just wished that the headrests were slightly firmer, instead of the squishy ones that have been provided on the C3 currently. The rubber floor mats are of a very good quality and being easy-to-wash make the C3 seem ready not just for the monsoons but for all those trips to the beaches and camping sites as well. One thing that we really liked on the side doors was the beige touch given to the water-bottle holders which made it so easy to spot the water bottle, instead of groping around like we often do, on other cars with dark black interiors. This indeed put a smile on our face while driving through that cloudy day in Goa. We also admired the shelves and the spaces created by the Citroen design team for stowing knick-knacks in the hatch and were also pleasantly surprised by the size of the glove box which doesn’t seem cavernous from the outside but holds quite a bit on the inside. The cube shaped air-con vents and the cube shaped cup holders all added to the charm of the hatch. The C3 does not come with a sunroof and we think that’s simply terrific because we have seen some really tiny ones which seem like an afterthought and we’re just glad that Citroen decided to skip the sunroof on the C3 altogether.
For the most part we drove and shot the 3-Cylinder, 1.2-Litre, (1198cc) Puretech 82 which puts out 82PS@5750rpm and 115Nm of torque @3750rpm. Later, we got behind the wheel of the 3-Cylinder, 1.2-Litre (1199cc) Puretech 110 which is a turbo-petrol and belts out 110PS@5500rpm and 190Nm of torque @1750rpm but couldn’t shoot it because of the rains. While the Puretech 82 is mated to a 5-Speed MT, the Puretech 110 is mated to a 6-Speed MT.
Driving both the hatches around was good fun but the Puretech 110 undoubtedly, was what we enjoyed driving around more mainly because of the seamless power delivery and because of the way it handled despite it being 71 kilos heavier than its counterpart- Puretech 82. Besides, we loved the way, the C3 handled some bad patches thanks to the MacPherson Struts in the front and the Rear Twist Beam at the back which made going over those bad patches of road almost seem like a smooth glide, with us barely feeling anything at all. Also, the electric steering which wasn’t too big, felt nice to grip and came with a 4.98m turning radius making those turns in tight corners a real breeze. However, in keeping with the Chubby nature of the C3’s design, we would’ve also loved to grip a slightly more meatier steering. Having said that, the gearshift was an absolute delight to grip as well as slot. The gearshift had a beautiful black textured finish and a slot opening in its design, on either side which was there not just for aesthetic purposes but for ergonomic purposes as well, so that the contours of the inside of your palm could wrap around it beautifully and this was truly a novel experience. The digital display for the speedo was sharp, never mind that the C3 did not come with a rev meter. We were quite pleased with the roominess inside the C3 which is 3981mm in length, 1733mm in width and 1604mm in height (Unladen, with the roof-rails) and there seemed to be ample space on offer inside its cabin, making it a perfectly comfortable hatch even for those long trips. However, personally what I really liked was the attention that the designers have given to every single aspect of design on the C3. I was particularly impressed with the fit and finish of the interiors and absolutely loved the black treatment that the rear bumpers and the boot design received. Nothing on the C3 looks like a hastily done job. Every bit on the C3 comes across as well-planned and exudes good quality. Even the roofline on the inside boasted a finish that didn’t seem cheap.
While the Puretech 82 was good to drive, the gearshift did feel slightly notchy at times and its engine was also audible after reaching speeds over 60 kmph. However, it was the Puretech 110 that clearly won our heart, on account of it being a plucky little hatch. Let’s just say that the C3 performs best when kept at the mid-range which seemed more than enough for those roads in Goa. Of course, we pushed it too and it seemed eager as ever each time we did so. We tremendously enjoyed driving it at high speeds whenever we were presented with the opportunity to do so on some of those open roads. And needless to say, the well-weighted electric steering did a fabulous job in making our C3 drive even more pleasurable. Also, the air-conditioning on the C3, we discovered, is terrific! We found ourselves constantly reaching out for that discreetly located air-con switch quite a few times during our drive but at no point in time did we feel that the air-conditioning was drawing more power thereby increasing the load on the3-Cylinder, 1.2-Litre engine and that we needed to switch it off for better performance... not even on Goa’s hilly roads.
The C3 has a quite few things going for it. For one, neither is it pretending to be a compact SUV, (It is Content being a hatch) nor is it trying to be overtly masculine – always a very difficult balance for any car manufacturer to achieve but Citroen does this with great aplomb and gets full points for pulling off this feat, thanks to their brilliant design philosophy. Secondly, despite being equipped with only a 30-Litre fuel tank, the fact that it has a fuel efficiency of 19.8km/l on the Puretech 82 and 19.4km/l on the Puretech 110, means that you don’t have to worry about those long road trips and won’t have to stop often for fuel breaks either. Besides, the C3 is also big on personalization. Available with 10 exterior color combinations – Zesty orange, Platinum Grey, Polar White, Steel Grey with two bold dual tone colors – Platinum Grey and Zesty Orange, you can pick and choose your favorite color combinations for your C3 both for the exterior as well as for the interior. Inside, you also get a choice of two stylish dashboard colors to choose from – Anodized Grey and Zesty Orange. All of this is available via three packs – Vibe, Elegance, and Energy with 56 customization options for you to choose from.
Now, to answer that big question… should you buy the C3? Let’s put it this way… Citroen started with 11 showrooms in 10 cities and now with the C3’s launch they are looking at 20 showrooms in 19 cities which means you will not have much to worry about should you opt for the C3. Besides, Citroen has already done a lot in terms of Anytime, Anywhere, Access, as well as their 180 Minute RSA (Road Side Assistance), not to mention making genuine spare parts available within 24 hours. That’s not a bad start for this French car manufacturer and with the C3, things should become smoother as the car maker has big plans of not only exporting their cars but also their parts to various countries across the globe which means availability of parts should not be an issue. The only gripe that we had is that we wished there was an AT (Automatic Transmission) also on offer. However, it shouldn’t take Citroen too long to add an AT to their portfolio and with that, they will definitely have many more buyers making a beeline for the C3.
Having said that, we simply loved driving the C3 and felt it was refreshingly different from the other somber and monotonous looking hatches out there. We would definitely put our money down for the Cool and Cutesy C3. Undoubtedly, the C3, should find plenty of takers and in the coming years if Citroen can continue to take care of three important aspects in their overall scheme of things – Cutthroat pricing, Committed service, and Cutting-edge tech, they will be loved even more by Indian car buyers.
Meanwhile, if you fancy the C3, pre-bookings open on July 1, 2022 before the launch on July 20, 2022.