Review: Citroen C3 (2010 – 2017)

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Neat looking small hatchback. Uses some of the same engines as MINI. 1.6 HDi is the best in the range. Excellent ride quality.

Lacklustre handling. Interior looks good on the surface but lacks quality in depth.

Citroen C3 (2010 – 2017): At A Glance

Small hatchbacks make such a crowded sector of the market that no manufacturer can expect to come up with just another one and expect it to sell. Citroen, being Citroen, played it a bit different first time around with its original C3, making the car a bit taller and a bit more mini MPV-like than a run of the mill supermini.

So what could it do to make its second-generation C3 stand out from the crowd and make you want to buy one?

In France the authorities considerately place a small set of traffic lights at eye-level, so if you can't see the overhead lights you still know when to get moving before the horns behind you start to blare.

So Citroen's designers must have travelled to more backward countries like the UK to realise the need we have to see the lights when were are first in a traffic queue. Hence the new Citroen C3's unique feature. A screen that doesn't stop until it's on top of your head. Citroen calls it, "a touch of glass".

They had a bit of practice at this with their similarly over the top front window on the C4 Picasso that makes the south perimeter road at Heathrow a particularly frightening drive when the planes are on a northerly approach.

Called the ‘Zenith' screen, it is progressively tinted front to back, so you don't get progressively tinted. Instead of the normal 28 degree angle of vision it gives you 108 degrees. And if it's all too much you can pull a rooflining down to where the screen top rail would normally be. For private buyers, the new C3's biggest enemy is the C3 Picasso. Why would you buy less car for the same sort of money?

C3 2010 Range Road Test


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What does a Citroen C3 (2010 – 2017) cost?

List Price from £16,075
Buy new from £12,593
Contract hire from £106.79 per month

Citroen C3 (2010 – 2017): What's It Like Inside?

Length 3941 mm
Width 1728–1994 mm
Height 1524–1538 mm
Wheelbase 2451–2467 mm

Full specifications

What's immediately apparent as you settle behind the chunky steering wheel is what a nice dashboard you're faced with. The optional satnav screen is beautifully integrated, the dials are clear, the whole thing has an expensive feel you would not have expected in a supermini from Citroen.

The seat material, too (at least in the HDI 90 Exclusive we were driving) was a discreet form for velour, the seats themselves were comfortable enough to accommodate us for 150 miles without a twinge and the motor goes as well as it does in anything else it's fitted to. Happily a DPF is optional with this engine (so don't ask for trouble), and the CO2 is 110g/km so low enough for £35 VED this year, £20 VED next year, and also low enough for a company to write the whole car off against tax in the first year.

I'm not so sure about the Zenith ‘Visiodrive' windscreen. (Not available, incidentally, on VT and Airdream models.) Our drive back to Rome was into the sun and everyone on the trip I asked had shut the rooflining and turned down the sunvisors. Vauxhall/Opel tried something identical on the previous model Astra Sporthatch and promptly abandoned it. And what happens if you hit a cow, or an elk, or, heaven forbid, roll the car? How well will the screen pillars protect you? Citroen showed a film of how the screen stands up to a normal front-end collision, but, these days, you never know what's going to land on you.

So, while I like the idea of getting a suntan while I drive and being able to see traffic lights (I have the sublind on the glass roof of my FIAT 500 open most of the time), I wonder what value Citroen customers will put on the ‘Visiodrive' effect.

Nevertheless, any company wanting to put its employees into a low BIK, but high quality car with plenty of feelgood factor and the added benefit of being able to claim the whole cost against one year's tax should take a very close look at the C3 1.6HDI 90 Exclusive.

Child seats that fit a Citroen C3 (2010 – 2017)

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 (2010 – 2017) like to drive?

Apart from the 1.1 61PS and 1.4 75PS, C3 petrol engines are basically the same new chain-cam PSA lumps you'll find in a MINI or a Peugeot. And we are all very familiar with the 1.4 and 1.6HDIs found in almost every small European car these days.

Handling is generally very accomplished, marred only by steering that's a little too light, especially when overtaking a truck or a bus on a bend on one of Italy's narrow lane dual carriageways. Gearing is around 32mph per 1,000rpm in 5th, so it's a relaxed cruiser.

With its MINI Cooper engine, the 1.6VTi didn't feel like it had 120PS (just as a MINI Cooper and a Peugeot 207 with the same engine don't). But it's certainly smooth enough not to drone at its lower geared 4,000rpm 80mph cruise.

That said, I'd rather pay £13,800 for a VTR+ with the 90PS diesel than £14,600 for a 1.6VTi Exclusive. (Or rather less for either at a Citroen discount.)

Refreshingly, the new C3 is no heavier than the old one, and, at a mere 3,941mm, no longer. At under 13 feet, It's actually the shortest B2 Supermini, yet with 300 litres, has the largest boot.

In February 2010 you'll be able to buy most of the range, including a 1.6 ‘Airdream' diesel that emits just 99g/km CO2 and escapes being taxed. By March 2010 a 1.6VTi automatic and a 110PS 6-speed diesel (unfortunately with a DPF) will join the range. By 2011 there will be two diesels with stop/start systems and electronic gearbox systems emitting just 95 and 90 g/km. Later developments, by 2012, will include a new 3-cylinder petrol turbo emitting less than 100g/km.

Interestingly, in rebellion against EC legislators, Citroen rather proudly announced that the new car had achieved just a 4 star NCAP rating because to achieve 5 stars it would have had to be fitted with ESP.

I'm on Citroen's side here, having almost been killed by an ESP system in an Alfa Romeo in Morocco. What happens is that, up to a point, ESP helps prevent a car getting into a skid. But once a car is in a skid, it fights the driver's reaction. So if you get into a skid on ice, as you might well do this winter, it will usually be easier to drive out of it with ESP off than it will with ESP on.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.0 Puretech 68 63–64 mpg 14.2 s 102–104 g/km
1.1i 64 mpg 14.2 s 102 g/km
1.1i 8V 64 mpg 14.2 s 98 g/km
1.2 Puretech 60 mpg 10.6 s 104 g/km
1.2 VTi 61 mpg 12.3 s 107 g/km
1.2 VTi ETG 66 mpg 14.4 s 99 g/km
1.4 e-HDi Airdream 70 EGS 83 mpg 16.2 s 87 g/km
1.6 BlueHDi 81–83 mpg 10.8–11.3 s 87–90 g/km
1.6 e-HDi Airdream 79 mpg 11.3–12.5 s 93–95 g/km
1.6 e-HDi Airdream 110 74 mpg 9.7 s 99 g/km

Real MPG average for a Citroen C3 (2010 – 2017)

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

40–74 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 (2010 – 2017)?

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

The brakes are not working properly in my new car - what could be the problem?

I have a problem with my Citroen C3. We just bought it last week and I have noticed that every so often (usually when in 1st or 2nd gear) the brakes virtually disappear and when the pedal is pressed to the board there is a grinding noise as if the car is skidding but the car is still very slow to stop. It tends to happen when the clutch is pressed in, when reversing or when switching from 1st to 2nd gear. Is this a serious problem and does anyone know what it is or how to fix it?
Reads to me as if there is an airlock in the hydraulic brake/clutch system. Get it back to the dealer who sold it to you. Might be possible to bleed the airlock out. Might need a new master cylinder. Or, if the clutch slave cylinder is the culprit, a new clutch slave cylinder.
Answered by Honest John
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