Citroen C3 VTR – Review
By Liam Bird
It’s been said that there’s no such thing as a bad car anymore. Regardless of what you’ve got, or how much you paid for it, the chances are your car is comfortable, safe and reliable. No matter how much you abuse it, it starts in the morning. Whether you wash it or not, it doesn’t rust. Love it or hate it your car does exactly what you bought it for; it transports you in relative comfort, reliably, whenever you call upon it to do so.
And that’s all down to technology. Whether you drive a supermini or a supercar you can rest assured that an army of sensors and electrickery will keep you safe, warm and – more often than not – on the straight and narrow. Motor manufacturers the world over spend millions developing things you will never see and yet unknowingly use everyday, every time you drive your car.
If the car in question happens to be Citroen’s C3 VTR and it’s fitted with an all-new three-cylinder petrol engine, just stop for a moment before turning the ignition key to consider this: 52 patents were awarded to that little motor – 17 to its cylinder head alone. It may only have 82bhp but it has 4 valves per cylinder, is cast from aluminium alloys and it’s even got variable valve timing. All this, Citroen claim, means that compared to a more traditional four-cylinder lump, internal friction losses are down by 30%.
“Floods the interior with light”
And that’s not all. Not only does this little motor engine promise to be as economical as a diesel, it’s quieter and also less mechanically complex. And that’s before we include such cleverness as an alternator that can be de-clutched under acceleration to reduce load and therefore emissions, not to mention a cambelt that’s lubricated and has been designed to last the lifetime of the car.
So, then, the engine is a gem. But what, you’re wondering, is the rest of the C3 like? Well, if you’re in the market for a small easy-to-live-with hatchback to tootle ‘round town in, the C3 will suit you fine. Visibility is excellent, especially if you go for the (optional) Zenith panoramic screen that extends up and over both driver and passenger. It floods the interior with light, giving you a feeling more akin to piloting a mini submarine. Either that, or it’s like you’re sat in an enormous motorcycle helmet. From the inside it’s great but it does, strangely, make the C3’s “face” look like it’s suffering from a receding hair-line when viewed from outside.
It’s when the going quickens, however, that the C3 loses its edge. The steering lacks any real feedback and does feel very light. The gear–shift too is a little vague. On more than one occasion I found myself selecting a “false neutral”. A sixth gear would also make a welcome addition as, sadly, the C3 only gets five forward ratios. There’s quite a lot of body roll too, amplified by a high seating position, and that’s after Citroen’s best efforts at stiffening their little car’s suspension.
“Sense of practicality”
Maybe, though, I’m being a little hard. Perhaps my driving style is not like that of the C3’s target audience. On a straight road at a steady pace the C3’s interior, despite the use of some hard and brittle feeling plastics here and there, is not such a bad place to be. The boot’s not a bad size either, adding to the C3’s sense of practicality. It also gets a 4 star Euro NCAP rating.
So then, the C3 VTR is economical, it’s easy to live with and its engine is a gem. The downsides are it’s not the most exciting car to drive and the quality of its interior can’t live up to that of its German rivals. Make no mistake: the C3 is by no means a bad car. But if it was my £13,640, I’d have a feeling that maybe, just maybe, someone else is making a better one.
Citroen C3 VTR
Engine: 1199cc 3Cyl 12V petrol
Transmission: 5 speed Manual, front wheel drive
Power: 82bhp @5750pm
Torque: 87 lbft @275rpm
0-62 MPH: 14.2 sec
Max Speed: 108mph
MPG: 62.8 combined