Citroen C3 first-drive review: French blossom with spunk, crafted for the young

Citroen C3 is a sub-compact SUV that is taking a straight aim at the young and the young at heart to help the French brand establish a firm foothold in the Indian mass-market car segment.
By : Shubhodeep Chakravarty
| Updated on: 15 Jun 2022, 02:40 PM
Citroen C3 will be manufactured in India and the fourth-generation model will be offered here first before anywhere else in the world.
Citroen C3 is gearing up for its India launch come July and is being propped as a confident and young car with a fresh take on the sub-compact SUV segment.
Citroen is taking an aim at the hatchback segment but the body proportions and styling of the C3 would most likely peg it against sub-compact SUVs like Magnite from Nissan and Kiger from Renault.
The second product after C5 Aircross from Citroen, the C3 is looking to woo a younger car-buying audience.
Citroen C3 is powered by two petrol engine options and two manual transmission choices. The 1.2-turbo engine comes mated to a six-speed MT while the 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated motor is paired with a five-speed MT unit.
The Citroen C3 with the more powerful engine puts out 110 Ps and offers 190 Nm of torque.
The Citroen C3 with the 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated engine offers 82 Ps and 115 Nm of torque.
Citroen C3 measures 3,981 mm in length, is 1,604 mm tall with roof rails, is 1,733 mm wide and has a wheelbase of 2,540 mm.
The C3 from Citroen has 315 litres of boot space and a relatively high ground clearance.
Here's a look at the dashboard layout of the C3. The car gets a 10.2-inch main infotainment screen with support for wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, an all-digital driver display, steering-mounted controls and plenty of storage space.
There is impressive amounts of space on offer for rear-seat passengers with good under-thigh support and cushioned seats. The central floor tunnel, however, eats into the feet space for passengers in the middle. There is no armrest here.
The boot of the C3 is deep which means luggage can be piled on top of one another. But the opening for the boot is rather narrow and there is a high lift angle.
Off the block, Citroen C3 won't come with some common elements like alloy wheels and rear-view camera but these would come as optional extras. There would also be customization options on offer.
Citroen C3 will be manufactured in India and the fourth-generation model will be offered here first before anywhere else in the world.
View all Images
Citroen C3 is gearing up for its India launch come July and is being propped as a confident and young car with a fresh take on the sub-compact SUV segment.
1/12
Citroen C3 is gearing up for its India launch come July and is being propped as a confident and young car with a fresh take on the sub-compact SUV segment.
Citroen is taking an aim at the hatchback segment but the body proportions and styling of the C3 would most likely peg it against sub-compact SUVs like Magnite from Nissan and Kiger from Renault.
2/12
Citroen is taking an aim at the hatchback segment but the body proportions and styling of the C3 would most likely peg it against sub-compact SUVs like Magnite from Nissan and Kiger from Renault.
The second product after C5 Aircross from Citroen, the C3 is looking to woo a younger car-buying audience.
3/12
The second product after C5 Aircross from Citroen, the C3 is looking to woo a younger car-buying audience.
Citroen C3 is powered by two petrol engine options and two manual transmission choices. The 1.2-turbo engine comes mated to a six-speed MT while the 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated motor is paired with a five-speed MT unit.
4/12
Citroen C3 is powered by two petrol engine options and two manual transmission choices. The 1.2-turbo engine comes mated to a six-speed MT while the 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated motor is paired with a five-speed MT unit.
The Citroen C3 with the more powerful engine puts out 110 Ps and offers 190 Nm of torque.
5/12
The Citroen C3 with the more powerful engine puts out 110 Ps and offers 190 Nm of torque.
The Citroen C3 with the 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated engine offers 82 Ps and 115 Nm of torque.
6/12
The Citroen C3 with the 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated engine offers 82 Ps and 115 Nm of torque.
Citroen C3 measures 3,981 mm in length, is 1,604 mm tall with roof rails, is 1,733 mm wide and has a wheelbase of 2,540 mm.
7/12
Citroen C3 measures 3,981 mm in length, is 1,604 mm tall with roof rails, is 1,733 mm wide and has a wheelbase of 2,540 mm.
The C3 from Citroen has 315 litres of boot space and a relatively high ground clearance.
8/12
The C3 from Citroen has 315 litres of boot space and a relatively high ground clearance.
Here's a look at the dashboard layout of the C3. The car gets a 10.2-inch main infotainment screen with support for wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, an all-digital driver display, steering-mounted controls and plenty of storage space.
9/12
Here's a look at the dashboard layout of the C3. The car gets a 10.2-inch main infotainment screen with support for wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, an all-digital driver display, steering-mounted controls and plenty of storage space.
There is impressive amounts of space on offer for rear-seat passengers with good under-thigh support and cushioned seats. The central floor tunnel, however, eats into the feet space for passengers in the middle. There is no armrest here.
10/12
There is impressive amounts of space on offer for rear-seat passengers with good under-thigh support and cushioned seats. The central floor tunnel, however, eats into the feet space for passengers in the middle. There is no armrest here.
The boot of the C3 is deep which means luggage can be piled on top of one another. But the opening for the boot is rather narrow and there is a high lift angle.
11/12
The boot of the C3 is deep which means luggage can be piled on top of one another. But the opening for the boot is rather narrow and there is a high lift angle.
Off the block, Citroen C3 won't come with some common elements like alloy wheels and rear-view camera but these would come as optional extras. There would also be customization options on offer.
12/12
Off the block, Citroen C3 won't come with some common elements like alloy wheels and rear-view camera but these would come as optional extras. There would also be customization options on offer.

For a brand that has been repeatedly harping on its 100-year legacy and rich heritage, Citroen remains a rather obscure entity in the Indian car market. Playing the rather complex landscape here with just one model, which also happens to be rather obnoxiously priced, the French manufacturer has been very cautious and calculating in its India approach which has thus far raised more questions than invited admiration. But while the C5 Aircross flagship launched early 2021 may have been a statement of intent at best, it is now the Citroen C3 SUV - the company calls it a hatchback for some reason - that is promising to hurl the brand into top flight. The C3 has been a while coming but the fourth-generation is being manufactured locally and sits in a segment that has enormous potential even if it already has a plethora of very well-established and well-entrenched rivals.

The Citroen C3 has been available in global markets since the early years of 2000s with all three generations of the model thus far receiving a largely positive response. But it is the latest C3 that is carrying the monumental weight of mammoth expectations for Citroen here in our country. Such is the promise that the company is manufacturing the fourth-generation in the country - and launching it here - before anywhere else in the world. But with sky-high promises come astronomical risks as well. Poor sales of the C5 Aircross could be excused with the reasoning that it was a show of strength and wasn't ever meant to bring in hoards of buyers. The fate of the C3, however, could propel the brand to giddy highs or plummet it to desperate depths ahead of the confirmed launch of an electric vehicle (EV) in India next year.

Similar Cars

Find More Cars
Renault Kiger (HT Auto photo)
Renault Kiger
999 cc | Petrol | Manual
₹5.45 - 10.09 Lakhs**Ex-showroom price
Tata Punch (HT Auto photo)
Tata Punch
1199 cc | Petrol | Manual | 18.97 kmpl
₹5.49 - 9.39 Lakhs**Ex-showroom price
Nissan Magnite (HT Auto photo)
Nissan Magnite
18.75 kmpl | 999 cc | Manual | Petrol | 5 Person | FWD | 71 bhp | 96 Nm | 205 mm | 939 kg | 336 litres | 5 Gears | 1.0L B4D | No | 40 litres | Hrs | 750 Km | | No | Front & Rear | seconds | Kmph | 18 kmpl
₹4.99 - 10.05 Lakhs**Ex-showroom price
Citroen C3 (HT Auto photo)
UPCOMING
Citroen C3
1198 cc | Petrol | Manual
₹5.5 Lakhs *Expected Price
Citroen C5 Aircross (HT Auto photo)
Citroen C5 Aircross
1997 cc | Diesel | Automatic (Torque Converter) | 18.6 kmpl
₹30.3 - 32.3 Lakhs**Ex-showroom price
Mahindra Kuv100 Nxt (HT Auto photo)
Mahindra Kuv100 Nxt
1198 cc | Petrol | Manual
₹5.66 - 8.13 Lakhs**Ex-showroom price

To test drive the Citroen C3 to study if the brand would potentially race forward or hunt for more excuses still, we landed in monsoon-hit, lush green Goa this June.

FOLLOW US:Stay Updated with latest content - Subscribe us on
FOLLOW US:Stay Updated with latest content - Subscribe us on

Here's the in-depth first-drive review of Citroen C3:

Citroen C3 exterior highlights:

The C3 is undeniably Citroen and does bear a resemblance of sorts to the C5 Aircross. The face of the SUV is distinct in that it does have a massively imposing grille or lush use of chrome splashes. Instead, dual chrome chevrons with chrome extensions in the front grille give it a young and distinct appeal. There are sleek LED DRL units but the the main head light unit is halogen-powered. ‘Why?' - is a question best left for Citroen to answer.

Citroen C3 will be offered in a plethora of mono and dual-tone colour options.
Citroen C3 will be offered in a plethora of mono and dual-tone colour options.
Citroen C3 will be offered in a plethora of mono and dual-tone colour options.
Citroen C3 will be offered in a plethora of mono and dual-tone colour options.

The vehicle stands on 15-inch smartly-designed alloy wheels under relatively large wheel arches. The windows too are quite large and the side cladding towards the lower portion of the doors lend the car a slight bit of rugged character.

Citroen C3 dimensions (in mm)    
 Citroen C3Tata PunchNissan MagniteRenault Kiger
Length3,9813,8273,9943,991
Width1,7331,7421,7581750
Height1,604
(with roof rails)
1,6151,5721,605
Ground clearance180187205205
Wheelbase2,5402,4452,5002,500

Nothing rugged about the rear though where Citroen opts for a clean profile, completed and complimented with the company badge and logo. Open the door here and there's a little over 300 litres of boot space. The cargo area is quite deep which means plonking one suitcase over another is possible. But on the flipside, the opening for the boot is quite narrow and there would be quite a loading angle which would surely make lifting heavy luggage and putting it in the boot a significant effort.

Citroen C3 offers 315 litres of boot space. The rear-seats can be folded to create even more space.
Citroen C3 offers 315 litres of boot space. The rear-seats can be folded to create even more space.
Citroen C3 offers 315 litres of boot space. The rear-seats can be folded to create even more space.
Citroen C3 offers 315 litres of boot space. The rear-seats can be folded to create even more space.

Overall, the C3 has a spunk around it from almost every angle and its sporty profile is massively highlighted by the big use of a bright shade of orange on the roof, ORVMs and casing around the front fog lamps. Personally, I am not too taken by the dual-tone orange shade but the car is also available in multiple mono tone hues.

Citroen C3 colour options 
Mono tone body coloursDual tone body colours
Polar WhitePolar White + Zesty Orange
Zesty OrangePlatinum Grey + Zesty Orange
Platinum GreyPolar White + Platinum Grey
Steel GreySteel Grey + Zesty Orange
 Zesty Orange + Platinum Grey
 Steel Grey + Platinum Grey

Citroen C3 cabin highlights:

That the C3 is a young car is also evident generously with how the cabin has been put together. The dashboard itself is offered in two colour trims - Orange and Grey. There is a 10.2-inch infotainment screen positioned right in the middle and it looks quite premium with features like wireless support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It is responsive to touch even if the amount of fingerprint it attracts would make it a delight for forensics teams. Nonetheless, it is bright enough for use under direct sunlight, has good viewing angles regardless of where in the car one is at and is connected to a four-speaker set-up.

A look at the dashboard layout inside the C3 from Citroen.
A look at the dashboard layout inside the C3 from Citroen.
A look at the dashboard layout inside the C3 from Citroen.
A look at the dashboard layout inside the C3 from Citroen.

Under it are the vents for air-conditioning which can be controlled using dial knobs over the center console. The vertical vents on the front sides are quite catchy to look at and are also mighty powerful in cooling the vehicle - essential because there are no vents for the passengers at the back.

Look closer and there are certain sections closed which give the C3 cabin a rather incomplete feel. The round space here may have been otherwise reserves for an engine start-stop button. There is also no central lock and unlock button for all doors, apart from the door lock on the driver door.
Look closer and there are certain sections closed which give the C3 cabin a rather incomplete feel. The round space here may have been otherwise reserves for an engine start-stop button. There is also no central lock and unlock button for all doors, apart from the door lock on the driver door.
Look closer and there are certain sections closed which give the C3 cabin a rather incomplete feel. The round space here may have been otherwise reserves for an engine start-stop button. There is also no central lock and unlock button for all doors, apart from the door lock on the driver door.
Look closer and there are certain sections closed which give the C3 cabin a rather incomplete feel. The round space here may have been otherwise reserves for an engine start-stop button. There is also no central lock and unlock button for all doors, apart from the door lock on the driver door.

For the driver, the seat can be adjusted for height while the compact steering promises to make short work of navigating through tight spaces. But where the C3 is found wanting is the digital driver display which is quite small and almost toycar-like. The stick to adjust the ORVM position is also rather flimsy and there are plenty of closed button sections which give a sense of the vehicle still being a work in progress. There is also no one central button to lock or unlock all doors and this depends entirely on the status of the driver-side door. The control buttons for the rear windows are also located on the central console and not on the rear doors.

Step back to the rear seats and there is decent amount of space on offer. The wheelbase of 2,540 mm is evident with impressive levels of knee and leg room, regardless of how far back the front seats may be. There is good amount of cushioning on all seats and superb under-thigh support. Head room is also quite satisfactory but the central tunnel on the floor bed and the center console jutting back takes generous bites out of the leg space for the middle-seat passenger.

A dedicated seat belt for the middle passenger at the back is a welcome addition inside Citroen C3.
A dedicated seat belt for the middle passenger at the back is a welcome addition inside Citroen C3.
A dedicated seat belt for the middle passenger at the back is a welcome addition inside Citroen C3.
A dedicated seat belt for the middle passenger at the back is a welcome addition inside Citroen C3.

The rear-seat passengers do sit slightly higher than those in front in a theater-like setup and while there is no sunroof, the cabin is quiet and has a pleasant aura all around. Storage spaces are plentiful too but use of only hard plastics is a bit of a let down. There are also several features that are either missing entirely or would be offered as optional extras. This includes wireless phone charging, ambient lights, rear-view camera and the likes.

Citroen C3 drive dynamics:

First things first - if you fancy a diesel car, then the Citroen C3 isn't for you. If you want the convenience of an automatic gearbox, then steer away from the C3 too. Snubbing the diesel motor is a miss for sure but not offering an automatic transmission in today's times means the French are likely to lose a fair share of customers.

But if a petrol motor and the enthusiasm of a manual gearbox is your thing, Citroen C3 is offering two choices of each. There is a 1.2-litre naturally aspirated motor churning out 82 Ps (80 hp) and offering 115 Nm of torque. Then there is the more capable 1.2-turbo petrol which puts out 110 Ps (108 hp) and an absolutely scrumptious 190 Nm of torque.

The C3 has a punchy turbo motor that responds quite well to throttle inputs.
The C3 has a punchy turbo motor that responds quite well to throttle inputs.
The C3 has a punchy turbo motor that responds quite well to throttle inputs.
The C3 has a punchy turbo motor that responds quite well to throttle inputs.

This torque figure alone promises to set the C3 apart from most of its intended rivals and isn't just a numerical highlight but does translate to some extremely peppy traits when on the move. Push the pedal, slot the intended gear number and the C3's turbo engine is just so impressively enthusiastic. Imagine a child running around in a chocolate factory - endless energy, scampering from one corner to the farthest other corner. That, in a nutshell, is the C3 turbo for you.

But it is not just innocent enthusiasm because there is a high degree of maturity too, especially when it comes to the large gear bands. The shifts may not be as slick to touch as is in most Korean cars but the sheer need to work the gearbox is comparatively far less. The C3 pulls and pulls clean, and while there is a slight strain from the engine at higher rev bands, the solid grip over NVH levels also help in keeping the cabin calm while pushing the car forward.

The C3 is quite steady at high speeds but the engine does strain a bit if pushed to the limits.
The C3 is quite steady at high speeds but the engine does strain a bit if pushed to the limits.
The C3 is quite steady at high speeds but the engine does strain a bit if pushed to the limits.
The C3 is quite steady at high speeds but the engine does strain a bit if pushed to the limits.

The other big strength of the C3 lies in its suspension set up that is tuned so well that the ride quality raises the bar for several other sub-compact SUVs currently out and about on roads here. Sure it may not be like the ‘Flying Carpet’ effect on the C5 Aircross but still, the ability of the C3 to brush past broken roads is mighty impressive. And unless hurtling the car over speed breakers, even man-made road aberrations are very well negotiated.

But while the C3 shines within city limits courtesy its easy maneuverability and rushes towards three-digit speed mark on open roads with spirited focus, the lack of feedback from the steering is a letdown. Steady at moderate speeds, the C3 steering wheel needs to be gripped harder at high speeds to extract any iota of feedback. There is also a slight body roll for back-seat passengers when the car is pushed into corners with disdain and this takes some sheen away from the otherwise comfortable experience of being on the move inside this car.

Most of these traits - the good and not so good - are obviously on the more sedate C3 option as well. But it would be incorrect to plainly assume that the 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated motor is lethargic. Obviously not as eager as its more powerful twin, the more affordable C3 still has enough spirit to be a confident daily ride option. The pick from lower rev bands is stellar and the five-speed gearbox continues to have a mighty large range to adapt to changing drive conditions. Move to high speeds sure need more work and overtaking won't be as breezy but unless you identify yourself as an enthusiastic driver every time you get inside your car, this motor should suffice.

The Citroen C3 attacks corners with decent levels of precision but there also is body roll that is likely to bother rear-seat passengers more than those in the front.
The Citroen C3 attacks corners with decent levels of precision but there also is body roll that is likely to bother rear-seat passengers more than those in the front.
The Citroen C3 attacks corners with decent levels of precision but there also is body roll that is likely to bother rear-seat passengers more than those in the front.
The Citroen C3 attacks corners with decent levels of precision but there also is body roll that is likely to bother rear-seat passengers more than those in the front.

As such, the C3 does a respectable job of offering two solid engine options and a suspension set up tuned for comfort.

Citroen C3 verdict:

The Citreon C3 isn't an extravaganza in terms of feature list or boisterous looks. And yet, it goes beyond just getting the basics right to offer a car that's confident and basks in that confidence.

Citroen C3 is most likely to get a very aggressive starting price which could help it snatch braggging rights in its segment.
Citroen C3 is most likely to get a very aggressive starting price which could help it snatch braggging rights in its segment.
Citroen C3 is most likely to get a very aggressive starting price which could help it snatch braggging rights in its segment.
Citroen C3 is most likely to get a very aggressive starting price which could help it snatch braggging rights in its segment.

Citroen will offer a mammoth list of optional extras which cover exterior style packs to feature additions for alloys, rear-view camera and more. This is a generous hint that off the block, the C3 may be very aggressively priced.

Rating
4 out of 5
Price
500,000
Product Name
C3
Brand Name
Citroen
Pros
  • Youthful looks
  • Spacious cabin
  • Aggressive turbo engine
  • Suspension set-up
Cons
  • Cabin finish imperfect
  • No automatic gearbox
  • Key features missing or part of optional extra

Citroen has a solid product on its hands and one that has the potential to find favour among a young car-buying audience. All eyes would be on how well the C3 is priced and how well the company is able to come good on its promise of offering a robust post-sales network. Considering the base variant will be quite a stripped down version, a starting price of somewhere around 5 lakh ought to hold the car in good stead.

First Published Date: 15 Jun 2022, 11:59 AM IST
Recommended For You
View All
NEXT ARTICLE BEGINS

Please provide your details to get Personalized Offers on

Choose city
+91 | Choose city
Choose city
Choose city
By clicking VIEW OFFERS you Agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy

Dear Name

Please verify your mobile number.

+91 | Choose city