On sale from tomorrow, the new 2010 version of the Citroen C3 has to have the biggest windscreen of any car on the road today. “Wouldn’t fancy calling Autoglass out for this”, was a thought that crossed my mind as I looked around the unrivalled massive panoramic windscreen.
The vast curved screen, sweeping back in a broad arc from the bonnet to well behind the driver’s head, is the dominant feature of Citroen’s new C3.
A reinvention of its two million-selling predecessor, it’s a sophisticated five-door hatchback that feels bigger inside than its curvy compact exterior dimensions, thanks in no small part to its extensive glazing.
The new C3 at 3.94m long is actually one of the smallest in its class – 8cm shorter than its predecessor, 5cm less than Vauxhall Corsa and 9cm shorter than the Peugeot 207 and Renault Clio. Apart from the windscreen the 2010 C3 retains the family resemblance of its predecessor, but considerably updated with sleek door lines, more stylish alloys and new boomerang-shaped headlights.
Inside, there’s a smooth horizontal dashboard finished in either a brushed steel or chrome strip that runs the full width of the car.
There’s a wide range of optional driver aids available, including cruise control with speed limiter, a gear efficiency indicator that helps you maximise fuel economy, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, electrochrome rear-view mirror and rear parking sensors, to name a few.
An integrated satnav and multi¬media system incorporating European mapping on a wide aspect colour screen, live traffic information and Bluetooth, allowing you to play MP3 files though the audio system, are also among the list of optional extras. Interior space is good for the size of the car, with generous head room front and back, but knee room for rear passengers is still limited.
Boot space is good – a class¬leading 300 litres. The rear seatbacks split and fold but unfortunately the cushions do not flip up, so the load floor through from the boot is not flat with the seatbacks still sticking up on top of the seats.
Driving with that supersize windscreen is fine as the rear part above the front occupants’ head is tinted to stave off strong sunshine. A sliding roof panel can be moved forward to block off the rear part of the glass, making it more like a conventional sized windscreen.
The front sun visors also fold down in the normal way, but oddly, they cannot be swiveled through
90 degrees, as with every other car on the road today, to block blinding sunshine through the driver’s window. A major safety omission, Citroen.
There’s a choice of three diesels – a 1.4 70hp, and two 1.6-litre models with 90 or 1l0hp – all emit 115g1km of C02 or less. Petrol engines include 1.1 61hp, 1.4 with 75hp or two 1.6-litre units with 95 or 120hp power outputs.
There are three trim levels, VT, VTR + and Exclusive – with a Special Edition Airdream+ to follow with the 1.6HDi 90hp unit that emits just 99g1km of C02. Fuel economy is up to 48.7mpg for petrol models and 74.3mpg for diesel.
I managed to get behind the wheel of three of the cars, including the 1.4 diesel and 1.6-litre petrol and the likely best-selling VTR + . Both petrol and diesel models pulled very well on a mixture of driving conditions, but the engines were noisier than expected at motorway speeds.
At low speeds the petrol was better, and the light steering meant manoeuvrability was good when parking in a tight space.
The new C3 prices (including VAT at 17.5 per cent), start at £10,790 for the entry-Ievel1.1i 8V 61hp VT petrol, rising to £16,140 for the range-topping 1.6HDi 110hp 6-speed manual Exclusive.
At the heart of the range and offering an excellent balance of value and equipment, VTR + models start at £12,690 for the petrol versions and £13,790 for the HDi¬powered equivalent.