Review: Citroen C3 (2002 – 2010)


Clever design for the boot floor. Four-star crash test rating. Good balance of ride comfort and roadholding.

Adults will find the rear seats cramped. Flimsy trim. Mechanical problems, including Sensodrive.

Recently Added To This Review

27 October 2017

Report of rear brake cylinder popping out of back plate causing 2007 Citroen C3 to lose all braking. Read more

9 April 2015

Haynes manual now available for Citroen C3 Petrol & Diesel (2002 - 2009) 51 to 59 reg. Hatchback, including XTR. Also covers C3 First to 2010. Petrol: 1.1 litre (1124cc), 1.4 litre (1360cc) &... Read more

3 March 2014

Central locking problems are becoming common on ageing Citroen C3s fitted with it and can leave the car completely deadlocked. Read more

Citroen C3 (2002 – 2010): At A Glance

Small car buyers are being spoiled for choice. First we had the pretty Peugeot 206. Then the Toyota Yaris, which hugely raised our expectations. Then the Skoda Fabia. And, this year, all in a rush, the Honda Jazz, the new Ford Fiesta, the new VW Polo and now the Citröen C3.

There are a few more to come, in the forms of the new SEAT Ibiza and new Nissan Micra. But here I'm going to concentrate on the cutely curvaceous Citröen C3, which arrives in the UK late April to early May.

You'll either like the shape or you won't. But you can't accuse Citröen of building boring cars that look like everyone else's. I quite like it, but the sharply fall-away front means you drive the windscreen rather than the front wings of the car.

Citroen C3 2002 Range Road Test

What does a Citroen C3 (2002 – 2010) cost?

List Price from £12,590
Buy new from £11,794
Contract hire from £106.79 per month
Get a finance quote with CarMoney

Citroen C3 (2002 – 2010): What's It Like Inside?

Length 3860–3941 mm
Width 1667–1986 mm
Height 1510–1538 mm
Wheelbase 2451–2466 mm

Full specifications

The cockpit is really nice. Seats and steering wheel both adjust for height and reach, so everyone from four foot six to six foot four should be able to find a decent driving position. The dash itself is digital, with a central large speed display and a sort of wraparound rev counter, with engine temperature and fuel contents measured by stacked LEDs rather than fiddly needles and gauges.

The electric door mirrors fold electrically, which is very handy for anyone with a narrow garage and for parking on narrow streets. Acoustic parking is provided by optional reverse distance bleepers rather than the crunch of plastic bumpers. If cruise control is fitted it's controlled from the steering wheel, with a button to set a speed alarm. There are plenty of storage places and cubbies, including a pair of drawers under the front seats. Cupholders abound and, as part of a special option pack for keeping children happy there are small folding trays on the backs of the front seats.

Citröen has been particularly clever about the 305 litre boot, which is very deep and carries a full-size spare wheel in a well inside rather than on a wire frame slung underneath. To make life easier for all of us, the boot has a split-folding false floor, which raises load height to sill height and gives a flat floor when the back seats are folded. Bottles, bags and all the things that fall over and spill in a conventional boot can be kept upright and safe by this 'Moduboard'.

Though everyone sits upright, the big disappointment about the interior is a surprising lack of legroom and headroom in the back. Kids will have no problem, but a six footer cannot comfortably sit behind himself and may well find his hair rubbing on the ceiling.

Safety is well covered by standard ABS with EBD, automatic hazard lights under emergency braking, a big dashboard button to lock and unlock the rear doors, and, of course, five lap and diagonal seatbelts, plus front and front curtain airbags.

Child seats that fit a Citroen C3 (2002 – 2010)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Citroen C3 (2002 – 2010) like to drive?

What's it like to drive? Well, I have to tell you that the 70bhp 1.4 HDI diesel is a revelation. It's sweet, quiet, revs almost like a petrol engine, yet delivers a lot more torque. Exactly what most drivers want, with the bonus of a near incredible combined mpg figure of 67.3 mpg. It really feels as if the car and this engine were made for each other. Steering through the electric motor powered rack is nice and precise. Ride quality is pleasantly absorbent. Handling is brings a smile to your face and I have no complaints about the roadholding. It's a great little car. With less than 1,000kg to tug along, the 5bhp power disadvantage compared to the VW Polo 1.4 TDI feels like a 5bhp advantage.

Unfortunately both other versions of the C3 I tried did not match up to the diesel.

The 1.4 automatic has 75bhp and a four-speed box offering self-selection. Only, like a German Tiptroninc, the selector works counter intuitively (the wrong way round). Instead of nudging it forward to change down and back to change up you're obliged to do the opposite of what comes naturally. And, left to its own devices, the box frantically changes up and down when you least expect or want it to. So it's an automatic, but not an automatic I would automatically choose.

Then there was the 110bhp 1.6 16v, on paper a junior GTi. Except it didn't feel like one. The engine isn't willing or sporty and rocks so violently on its soft mountings that gearchanges which should have snicked through can grind and crunch. The stiffened suspension also makes the car feel bumpy and less secure, a bit like the old VW Polo GTi. I wasn't enjoying myself at all until I handed over to The Telegraph's Andy English who's a much better driver than me.

He managed to work the car, got it to handle through bends and show its stuff without doing anything unpleasant or unpredictable. He proved it could be driven quickly and safely. Yet we still agreed with each other: the 1.4 diesel is the pick of the bunch and the C3's most natural incarnation.

At the end of the presentation we were shown a French launch commercial for the C3. A guy and a girl are driving along in one with the huge optional glass sunroof. The along comes a low flying Mirage fighter aircraft (or whatever). The pilot does a flip, so his transparent cockpit is directly above the girl passenger. She smiles up at him. He smiles down at her. Her boyfriend smiles at the bridge they are rapidly approaching. At the last second, the pilot spots the bridge, turns his plane round and climbs. Cue the strapline, "La vie est Belle" (life is beautiful).

In France, C3s start at 11,050 Euros (£6,906 - £7,367) for the 1.1X and 11,850 Euros (£7,406 - £7,900) for the 1.4SX. But Citröens in the UK have a three year warranty, which is rather better than in France, and the company was talking about UK starter prices of around £9,000 for the 1.4SX, to match the £8,995 of the Honda Jazz. But, much more significantly, in France the base X version of the 1.4 diesel comes in at 12,900 Euros (£8,063 - £8,600). If Citröen can offer this sprightly 67mpg car at less than £9,000 in the UK it really will have a winner on its hands.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.1i 47 mpg 15.9 s 140–143 g/km
1.4 16V SensoDrive Stop & Start 50 mpg 13.0 s 135 g/km
1.4 16v VTi 51 mpg 13.2 s 127 g/km
1.4 16V VTi 48–49 mpg 10.6 s 134 g/km
1.4 HDi 64 mpg 13.4 s 115 g/km
1.4 HDi 16V 72–74 mpg 13.5 s 99–101 g/km
1.4i 46–47 mpg 12.4–14.2 s 139–145 g/km
1.4i 16V 46 mpg 11.9 s 148 g/km
1.4i 16V SensoDrive 47 mpg 13.0 s 143 g/km
1.4i 16V SensoDrive Stop & Start 50 mpg 13.0 s 135 g/km
1.6 16V VTi 50 mpg 8.9 s 132 g/km
1.6 16V VTi Automatic 43 mpg 10.9 s 150 g/km
1.6 HDi 16V 63–74 mpg 9.5–11.5 s 99–120 g/km
1.6i 16V 44 mpg 10.0 s 155 g/km
1.6i 16V SensoDrive 46 mpg 12.6 s 148 g/km

Real MPG average for a Citroen C3 (2002 – 2010)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

26–74 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Citroen C3 (2002 – 2010)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

My car, which was written off (but repaired), has lost value - can I claim for this loss from my insurer?

In December 2016, I was the victim of a rear end collision. The third party driver accepted full responsibility. My car is a 2008 Citroen C3 and the damage was such that my insurers wrote it off. However, as it was low mileage and in good condition (before the accident) I decided to have it repaired. The cost was around £700, which was approximately 50 per cent of the insured value. The third party's insurer reimbursed my excess and I understand that they reimbursed my insurer the cost of the repairs. I'm now looking to trade in my car and I'm finding, understandably, that the crash has reduced its value. Can I ask my insurers to reopen the case so that I can claim for the reduction in value? I've since changed insurers, so, if the claim can be reopened, would I be better off contacting the third party's insurer direct?
Diminution in loss is something you can claim for and is covered under the case law Payton v Brooks. However, I highly doubt that your car has diminished in value. The car is already at a low value, so the effect on the value because it's been involved in an accident is virtually nil. Your car's trade in value is about £250-£500, irrespective of the previous damage. Plus, you chose to keep it despite it being written off. This would negate any claim. The action of claiming for diminution in loss is a complex area, so there are a number of things that need to be in place for it to be successful. If your claim has been settled in full and final settlement you would be inhibited from taking it further. If it filled the correct criteria, you could claim for diminution in loss. Yet, your particular claim fails in almost all respects.
Answered by Tim Kelly
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What Cars Are Similar To The Citroen C3 (2002 – 2010)?

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