It was about ten days before the official presentation of the new C3 that I had my first contact with this new development, which is so important for Citroën. Following on from a successful generation is never easy, and this new generation of the C3 has no easy task, with the promise of making electric driving affordable making things even more complicated. All this made me very excited to see how our favourite brand had managed to respond to this immense challenge, an excitement mixed with a certain concern to see how this new C3 would reconcile electric and accessible without being perceived as a low-cost car.
A surprising but positive first impression
Something rare enough to highlight: I had never seen the new C3 in photographs before, so it was a complete surprise for me to discover for the first time and in real life this new generation, which has a special meaning for Passionnément Citroën, as it is the first Citroën to have been designed entirely during the existence of the site.
If I had not had the photos before the presentation, I would have had enough information to offer you illustrations that would give you a certain idea, without being as revealing as real photos. So it was with a mixture of haste and apprehension that I discovered this brand-new C3, which at first glance was surprising.
I knew that this new C3 was built on the platform of the version sold in India and Latin America, but I also knew that there was nothing in common between the two versions. So at first glance and from a distance, I implicitly see the C3 sold in other regions, but this feeling disappears as I get closer to our new C3, which gradually reveals an incredible level of technical sophistication in the design and unexpected details. If the Indian C3 is implicit, it is first of all through the crossover silhouette of our new generation, which breaks radically with the previous one. A new silhouette that changes the proportions of the car and which, as you will see, required a design that visually widens the C3. This extra height, more than 9 cm, has the advantage of turning the C3 into a mini-adventurer, but has the disadvantage of making the wheels a little small, despite a size of 17 inches, which is quite appropriate in this segment.
But the more I look at it, the more I discover details that seem crazy at this price level, and above all the attention to detail. For example, the rear lights are really impressive for a car at this price level, and the fact that they have managed to use such fine LEDs to create very elaborate lights is quite incredible.
The more I discover this new C3, the more I talk to the teams, including its designer, Sylvain Henry, or the head of Citroën's Segment B, Thierry Brochard, the more I realise the work carried out by the teams and their ambition to create an accessible car that is rewarding for the customer.
A wow interior
After discovering the exterior, I went inside and got a visual slap in the face. To be honest, I wasn't expecting this given the target price of this new C3, less than €25,000 excluding electric bonuses. To achieve this, I expected significant sacrifices, but inside, none of that.
The dashboard is much more modern than on the current C3, very Citroën in spirit and faithful to the brand's latest productions. Horizontal and not very obtrusive, it features an instrument cluster projected onto a wing, guaranteeing excellent visibility at all times. The 10.25-inch touch screen is responsive and well placed, making it easy to use. But above all, it is the level of detail that impresses me, starting with the chevrons engraved on the dashboard, the pieces of fabric, called Sofa Design, that give the interior warmth, the materials, even if they are not definitive and lower than those expected for mass production, are of good quality, better than those of the current C3 with an assembly that does not suffer from criticism.
Finally, the seats are a centrepiece of this new C3. Introducing a new design and putting an end to the capsules, the seats benefit from Advanced Comfort technology, are incomparably soft and promise a lot of driving comfort for this C3, especially since the lateral support has been revised to put an end to the criticisms. Advanced Comfort seats on a car that sells for less than €20,000 is pretty crazy, but when I was told that the double hydraulic stop suspension was also standard, my arms dropped. Citroën has definitely hit the ground running with this new C3.
The interior also shows an almost crazy level of detail, which continues the good impression created. The armrests, for example, are covered in leather effect fabric (TEP), but above all they have a small piece of fabric with positive words written on it; this may seem insignificant, but above all it underlines the work and care given to the details of this new C3, care found both inside and out. This kind of detail, at this price and in this range, seems to me unheard of in a production car and shows the attention the brand pays to its customers, for whom accessibility is also rewarding. There are no stickers on the doors or the logo as on the Dacia Sandero, the fuel filler flap is solid, the boot lid is not made of sheet metal, the doors are not light, but despite all this the C3 is accessible, very accessible even. The savings that make such a low price possible have not been made at the expense of the customer, but are the result of intelligent design and work. In the next issue of Passionnément Citroën, which will be dedicated to the new C3 and will be published on 10 November, I will return to the reasons why Citroën was able to offer the C3 at such an affordable price.
On examining the car, I noticed the comfort, which seems to me better than the current C3, with good space for the knees, even if the seat seems a little low to me, like any electric car. This will have to be checked during the press tests. In any case, the C3 seems to be more liveable in the front and rear, figures confirmed by the brand, which indicates that the C3 has 19 mm more elbow room for the rear passengers and 19 mm more space for the front passengers. 21 mm more than the market average, while knee room in the rear is at least 20 mm more on average.
In conclusion, I am a Citroën enthusiast and, like any enthusiast, there is a kind of exhilaration when I discover a new car. But here, this new C3 really excited me because the search for an affordable price is not at the expense of the car, so the attention to detail really impressed me. Although it sells for less than €20,000, minus the electric bonus, it has Advanced Comfort seats and suspension as standard, that's crazy. This C3 is so far from the criticisms heard in other media, so far from what we call low-cost and which has been sold en masse for years, that its discovery is a real pleasure, a really good and pleasant surprise that seduces me with its style, with accents of Jeep Avenger or VW T-Cross, the level of detail and the care given everywhere on the car. The wait was long, but the result was worth it, this new C3 promises to be a real success. To be honest, I am convinced of its potential, because it seems to tick all the right boxes, because it does so with particular care and at a really affordable price. With this new C3, Citroën has invented the ideal second car for the home, liveable, comfortable, electric and very accessible, this C3 has great potential and all the qualities to continue the success of the current generation.