The C3 comes with Airbump doors that don’t add a feeling of weight to car, more in terms of protection from other car opening doors and straying supermarket trolleys

Citroën’s fresh attack in the supermini market with the new C3 makes a strong statement from the French brand and their biggest new entrant to the market for 2017. This new C3 has grown up significantly in terms of size and road presence, making it a more distinguished looking car than before.

This new Citroën C3 has scope to add flair and style with new options available that can either tone up or down how you feel about your car choice. What’s standard is a car that feels, looks and drives with a stronger nature than before.

I’ve had the diesel powered Flair version Citroën C3 on the road for a week to test its metal. I took across a variety of city and country driving conditions that spanned 1119km, so it was well and truly tested in Ireland’s muggy winter driving conditions.

The 1.6 litre turbo-diesel engine is well accomplished. It can deliver pace giving the car a lively driving feel. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the car handled with this power and torque in what is a relatively light car. The road holding was impressive and at all times I felt that I was in control.

The smooth engine performance is average for a car in this class, even though the engine size is larger than some others. The acceleration pace at 13.8 is no rally car, while it does give the car a better pace than some of the competition.

I had expected a better fuel economy figure where the rated numbers are impressive at 28m/litre (3.6/100km or 78.5mpg). In practice this performance was well outside my reach, both in terms of what the car’s trip and range meter returned as well as my own consumption figures. The actual figure was close to 40% off this and that was one of shocking surprises that you only realise when at the pumps.

The fuel tank is rated at 42 litres and in theory that should give me a range of over 1,110km but I had a pit stop along the way to reaching that figure. That economy figure does not take away from the performance of the engine which meets the challenge on the open road as much as in city driving, it’s just that as you tour on the motorways and come close to the 120km/hr limit the car edges over the magic 2000rpm figure on the engine, which is the sweet spot when it comes to bridging the gap between performance and economy.

That all means that the Citroën is a good car to drive in terms of comfort, road holding and but keep an eye to that rev counter is economy is your priority. For city driving I expect better performance as the engine’s start/stop system is smooth and comfortable to use. I probably just didn’t do enough city driving to maximise its true economy benefits.

The Citroën C3 looks aesthetically pleasing and the free Style Pack which Citroën claim is worth €500 brings a distinctive Airbump and Bi-Tone roof to the car. With the C3 the Airbumps are both practical in supermarket trolley defence and is stylish in appearance.

On the inside the C3 is more modern looking than in the past. There is a new ConnectedCAM Citroën system included on the higher specification models which uses a fully integrated camera, located behind the rear view mirror, to capture images and video that can instantly be shared on social media channels, or saved as evidence in the event of an accident.

The 17-inch alloy wheels gives the car great road stature and there are useful features in the top-end Flair specification that include automatic lights and windscreen wipers, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. Other options that improve the driving experience include voice controlled 3D navigation, a reversing camera, keyless entry and start and blind-spot monitoring.

While this pushes up the price from the Touch specification entry model at €17,890 to €20,790 for the top of the range Flair model with all of this kit. That €3,000 difference brings a lot of features, many of which you’ll find in the mid-range where the price jump is exactly half that figure. Citroën is offering enticing scrappage options and low rate finance options.

The rear space is what you would expect from a supermini car, adequate as long as you’re not 6ft tall. There are two ISO-Fix units in the rear for child seats but not much room between them. The car has yet to achieve a Euro NCAP safety rating.

The boot space is good at 300 litres extending to 922 with the rear seat folded. The other plus is that there’s a space saver spare wheel included.

Ford’s Fiesta is the big competition for the Citroën C3 and the new bigger C3 is very price competitive at the entry and middle end, while the higher specification Flair model that I drove has more kit included that the equivalent Fiesta Titanium.

Citroën has a strong offering in the new C3 supported by a 5 year warranty and for me the improved driving and handling of the car was what won the day.

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