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Citroën C3 Pluriel celebrates its 20th anniversary

Citroën C3 Pluriel three-quarter front view in blue tint, grey arches

After the C3 Air concept presented in 1998 and the Pluriel demonstrator in 1999, it was at the 2002 Paris Motor Show that Citroën officially unveiled the Citroën C3 Pluriel, a cabriolet derivative of the latest C3 launched by the brand a few months earlier. The C3 Pluriel shows the rediscovered audacity of Citroën, which has undergone a real revolution since the arrival of Jean-Pierre Ploué at the head of its design department.

After the C3, which in many ways resembled the 2CV, the C3 Pluriel is a different Citroën, with a certain nod to the Méhari, particularly in the freedom represented by the C3 Pluriel, but also in the acid colours offered. Launched in May 2003, the C3 Pluriel proved to be a veritable automotive Swiss army knife, being at the same time a saloon, a convertible, a cabriolet with an electrically operated canvas roof that opens completely, a spider with the removal of the arches or a 2-seater pick-up with the bench seat folded down and the boot opened backwards.

This is where the brand's creativity comes to the fore, a risk that pays off as the C3 Pluriel is voted Cabriolet of the Year in 2003 and, thanks to the C3 Pluriel's versatility, Cabriolet of the Year is also a saloon.

The C3 Pluriel is an atypical proposition on the European market and unique in that it is the only one that can go from saloon to cabriolet or even pick-up in the blink of an eye, even if its concept is not the most practical. In fact, to change from saloon to cabriolet mode you have to remove the roof arches, each of which weighs 12 kilos, and above all you have to be able to stow them away with the inconvenience of being sure that the weather will not spoil them, because when you are far from their arches the cabin turns into a swimming pool.

A fluid style

The style of the C3 Pluriel is all about fluidity and softness, with very few lines and soft curves that invite relaxation, driving pleasure and sharing. The large pillar-less side windows allow passengers to enjoy a panoramic view of the outside world and contribute to this feeling of freedom by giving the impression, even in saloon mode, of being behind the wheel of a cabriolet.

Although derived from the C3, the C3 Pluriel is stylistically distinct, with its own design and no shared body panels. With three doors instead of 5 on the C3, the C3 Pluriel offers a curvaceous style that gives pride of place to customisation as the roof arches are a different colour to that of the body with a choice of aluminium grey or a Fulminator grey. At launch, Citroën offered no less than 8 colours.

Inside, the C3 Pluriel is similar to the C3 in that it takes over its dashboard, which is available in two colours, black or light grey. However, there are differences, especially in the headrests, which can be opened and give this particular C3 a very special look.

The Citroën C3 Pluriel seen from behind with the hood down

In 2006, the C3 Pluriel evolved slightly with a few essentially aesthetic differences such as the now white indicator repeaters, the roof fabric only available in black, the dashboard with aluminium elements, etc. The brand took the opportunity to introduce new colours to replace some of them (Fiery Red, Aerial Orange, Lacerta Yellow, Paname Blue, Aluminium Grey, Obsidian Black and Parthenon Cream). It was also in 2006 that Citroën launched the first special series on the C3 Pluriel, such as Côté Sud, available in two colours (Gris Aluminum and Bleu Grand Pavois) and featuring particularly complete equipment. This was followed by the So Chic range, characterised by its two-tone leather upholstery, which became a distinctive feature of the range. In 2007, Citroën also launched the Côté Ouest range, which featured optional equipment.

For 2008, a minor restyling has been carried out, with enlarged chevrons on the bonnet, a grey front grille, orange front turn signals and darkened rear lights. The standard equipment was increased, but the list of options was reduced to ESP, Aluminium Pack and Bluetooth.

A few months later, in October 2008, Citroën offered THE special edition that would become a must for the C3 Pluriel: the Charleston. Thought as a tribute to the 60th anniversary of the C3, the Charleston special series takes up the elements of this iconic series of the 2CV with a two-tone body that takes up Delage red and black, while the equipment is more complete. This Charleston series is the rarest and most sought-after of the C3 Pluriels, as it is a true reference to the famous 2CV that has marked the brand's history so much.

The roof arches of the Citroën C3 Pluriel have been removed.

Produced at the Villaverde plant in Spain, the C3 Pluriel will be withdrawn from the market in 2010 after 115,097 units. It has had an honourable career without more, with customers preferring the fashion for hard-top coupés or rejecting a car concept that was perhaps too stuffy and not successful enough. Nevertheless, this C3 Pluriel is a real Citroën, as we like them, unique in the world and totally disruptive in an automotive landscape that is often too formatted. Unfortunately, it had no offspring and therefore remains a sword in the water, even though the basic idea was attractive and would have deserved to be continued and refined, but this contributes to the unique side of this C3 Pluriel if Citroën is at heart.

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