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CitroŽn C3 1,4 HDi road test

The airconditioning was very effective as was the ventilation system. It was, surprisingly, not cold enough to warrant testing the heating.
The radio sounded both tinny and bass heavy – as if the loudness control had been switched on while CDs sounded aggressive.
Visibility was good although the combination of thick screen pillars and quarter lights will be familiar to an XM driver. The very short bonnet, good rearward visibility and electronic parking assistance made manoeuvring very easy.
Brakes were powerful and the combination of ABS and emergency braking assistance feels reassuring. The hazard lights come on automatically under hard braking as with the C5.
Performance was adequate – a Saxo VTS it is not but the engine has bags of low end torque which means that one does not have to stir the gears to make progress. As mentioned earlier, the engine is very quiet and refined which unfortunately highlighted the road noise and the rattles.

I am afraid however that there were other demerits – the rear of the driver’s seat had a piece of trim that had detached itself (see photo) and some of the plastics used felt really cheap and nasty. In particular, the upper glove box’s lid flexed so badly that I was frightened that I might break it. The fascia feels brittle and the pimply finish on much of the trim, coupled with moulding edges that should have been smoothed all contributed to the “built down to a price” ambiance.
I intensely dislike digital speedometers and unfortunately the C3 is fitted with one, together with an almost illegible tachometer which fortunately is not digital. The lighting of the speedo is bright enough in sunlight to make the instrument legible but driving down a wooded lane in and out of shadows was quite distracting since the speedo was too brightly illuminated in the shadows. Turning on the lights dims the display – to the point of illegibility in bright sunshine. This means that pretending one is driving a Volvo is out. “Sorry officer, I had my lights on and couldn’t read the speedo.”