Parisian chic with airbumps: Citroen C3 Preview

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New C3 confirms the rejuvenation of modern Citroens

Nobody likes bland. Well, no-one with any pep in their personality anyway. It’s why there has been such a big trend in personalisation on the car scene in recent times, especially on smaller supermini hatchback models. A bright contrasting roof here, a colour coordinating door mirror there, all aimed at being a bit different from the rest.

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It’s a fashion that has worked well for several car makers, including Citroen, and it was well to the fore for the world debut of the new Citroen C3, the substantially revamped third generation of the model that is the French company’s best seller.

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The new C3 is coming two years after the arrival of Citroen’s landmark C4 Cactus model, which reintroduced quirkiness to the double chevron brand, with its squidgy seats and its scuff-shrugging side airbumps. Now the C3 will have airbumps too, although scaled down to suit the smaller size of the car and set lower down alongside its sides.

Catwalk colours

The car Citroen unveiled with due drama at the launch event in Lyon was a guaranteed eye-catcher, with its chunky white bodywork and contrasting colour highlights. It had the company’s signature black front pillars and black airbumps with discreet red rings on them, echoing the bright red detailing on the roof, door mirrors and front foglight surrounds.

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The C3 will be offered with a choice of nine body colours and three roof colours, so there will be 36 colour combinations before the highlighting colour touches are added. The airbumps will be optional at no extra cost, but as well as being functional and serving as protective rubbing strips, they also add visual interest to the car, so it would be an odd decision to opt out of them.

This car sets the design trend for the future of Citroen now that posher DS models have been hived off as a separate up-market brand. The wide front grille, split-layer headlights and those airbumps are now signature features along with the black A-pillars that are intended to create a ‘floating roof’ effect.

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A novel feature on the new C3, claimed as a world premiere, is an on-board HD camera behind the rear view mirror, that the driver can use to directly share road-trip photos and videos with friends and family via social media. It could also be handy evidence in an accident.

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Fiesta chaser

The C3 chases the same buyers as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall’s Corsa, the Renault Clio and other small five-door, five-seater hatchbacks. The previous two generations of the car have clocked up 3.5 million buyers around the world, including 11,000 last year in the UK. This new one, funkier and more of a looker, should do even better.

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The engine choice will be one of a trio of three-cylinder petrol units with power outputs from 67 to 109 bhp, and a pair of 1.6 litre diesels with 74 or 99 bhp. Likely combined fuel consumption figures are in the 60 to 80 mpg range.

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The new C3 does feel roomy for its size, and the boot at 300 litres is slightly larger than a Fiesta’s or Corsa’s. Citroen is promising that it will be one of the quietest cars in its class with lots of soundproofing, and one of the most comfortable, with ultra-cushioning suspension. A verdict on those will have to await the car’s arrival at the end of the year. Prices are expected to start at around £11,000.

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Sue Baker is a seasoned motoring journalist with a love of all things automotive.