A few years ago, Citroen decided to concentrate on comfort.
Remember those wacky looking models from the past like the DS, then in the 1970s the CX and smaller GS?
No doubt plenty of you owned one and still remember the fantastic featherbed ride as they floated over bumps and ruts. A bit like a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, which isn’t entirely surprising because Rolls used, under licence, Citroen’s hydro-pneumatic suspension system.
This newly refreshed Citroen C3 supermini is also very comfortable. We’re testing a Flair Plus version powered by a 110bhp petrol engine that’s connected to PSA Group’s six-speed automatic transmission. It costs £21,270.
Most people will buy a version one rung down the ladder which is the Flair. Beneath that is the Feel at £16,280, which comes with the 83bhp petrol engine and a six-speed manual gearbox.
A diesel engine is also available but understandably the take-up on that power unit won’t be massive. Diesels still make sense in big heavy SUVs but not on small superminis like the C3.
We’re looking at a light facelift here, which is an accidental pun because the main changes to the exterior involve new LED headlamps, daytime running lights and rear lamps.
The design of the front grille is changed slightly too.
Citroen is making more of a deal of the fact that no rival can match the choice of colours that you’ll be able to choose from – with 97 combinations possible.
Four roof colours – Onyx Black, Opal White, Sport Red and Emerald Blue – can be echoed on other parts of the car such as mirror surrounds, interior trim around the dash, fog lamp surrounds and also on the familiar door ‘Airbumps’ that prevent car park damage.
These colour packs add a lot of character and without them it’s a less interesting looking motor.
The C3 Flair comes with an impressive list of standard kit but ramp up to Flair Plus trim and you have as much stuff and tech as you really need on a car.
Also standard on the Flair Plus is a new trim material called Techwood which is a tasteful light-coloured fake wood.
Smart phone mirroring is also standard on this trim level. Not good news is having to go into the infotainment system to adjust heating levels.
Part of Citroen’s comfort offensive is what it calls Advanced Comfort Seats which are flatter and wider.
They’re standard in the Flair Plus, an option in the Flair but not available in the entry level Feel. Naughty that. A more comfortable bum should be a priority in any car and not something that you have to pay extra for.
While the C3 does ride well, particularly in town, Citroen could go a lot further. How about taking the bold step of fitting smaller wheels and with them tyres that have a higher profile?
Designers hate this but if you really want to dramatically improve ride quality then a decent depth of tyre sidewall makes a big difference.
The more powerful 110bhp petrol engine provides more than enough performance for the car.
The automatic gearbox isn’t the smoothest and if you try and drive the C3 in a more spirited fashion it sometimes becomes unsure of what ratio it wants to use. I’d choose the manual.
Another bit of tech that comes standard in our test car is lane departure warning. This might be my failure but I couldn’t work out how to switch it off.
Annoying even on major roads, it wasn’t designed for the narrow Cotswolds lanes on which we drove many miles in this car.
If you want a supermini that’s fun to drive, buy a Ford Fiesta. If you want comfort, I’d pick a C3 in Flair spec with the optional seats and a fun colour combo.
Citroen C3 Flair Plus
Engine: 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol, 110bhp
Fuel consumption: 46.3mpg
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