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    Citroen C3 Puretech 82: First Drive Review

    Authors Image

    Abhishek Nigam

    16,154 Views

    Why would I buy it?

    • Excellent performance from both engines
    • Great ride quality
    • Comfortable cabin

    Why would I avoid it?

    • Equipment levels are pretty scarce
    • No automatic gearbox options on offer

    Engine and Performance

    Left Front Three Quarter

    Puretech 82 - The Citroen C3 comes with a choice of two petrol engines, the Puretech 82 and the Puretech 110 but no diesel. So this is a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine which is naturally aspirated.The engine puts out 81BHP and 115Nm of torque. Now, this is similar to what you get in the Maruti Suzuki Ignis, which will be more or less the C3’s competition. The engine comes mated to a five-speed manual gearbox only.

    When you crank the car, the starter motor sounds pretty loud, almost like when cranking an already running engine. But once started, it settles down to a decently refined idle. The clutch action takes a little time to get used to getting off the line because the return spring action is a little slow. Also, at crawling speeds, the C3 sometimes needs constant throttle or stalls. Once you get going, though, it’s all smooth sailing. The engine feels refined at normal and commute speeds, and what is surprising is how peppy even this naturally aspirated 1.2-litre engine feels.

    Right Rear Three Quarter

    Acceleration is snappy, and throttle response is pretty immediate, which helps with quick overtakes in the city. But try pushing it harder, and the engine note starts sounding coarse with the performance tapering off quickly too. The five-speed manual gearbox isn’t the best we have come across, with long-ish throws and a less than positive shift feel. The city is where the Puretech 82 is completely at home and impresses without a doubt. Citroen claims a fuel efficiency of 19.8kmpl.

    Left Rear Three Quarter

    On the braking front, the C3 gets the same disc-drum set-up for both the variants and works well, but we could do with better initial bite.

    Ride and Handling

    Right Front Three Quarter

    Now Citroen is known for their obsession with ride comfort, and we saw that with the larger and more expensive C5, which came with the progressive hydraulic suspension set-up. Of course, you do not get that in the C3 in a bid to keep costs down. So you get the regular McPherson strut with coil springs in the front and a rear twist beam with coil springs. While the set-up may be regular, it’s how Citroen has managed to set it up. For Citroen, ride quality is a priority, and it shows.

    Left Front Three Quarter

    The suspension works very well, absorbing bumps and undulations. We drove the C3 over some nasty patches, and the C3 managed to take it all with ease. What also helps is the 180mm of ground clearance, so one does not really have to ease up for large speed breakers and bad patches. Citroen has definitely got the ride quality spot on.

    Right Front Three Quarter

    Coming to the handling bit, the tall SUV-ish stance and the comfort-oriented suspension mean the C3 does roll quite a bit, but only if you push it hard in a corner. The steering has no feel, but it's got quite a bit of weight, meaning it feels quite confident at triple-digit speeds.

    Left Side View

    Overall, the C3 has been set up for comfort, and Citroen has done a fantastic job setting up the suspension for its intended purpose.

    Comfort, Convenience and Features

    Dashboard

    With the C3, Citroen has tried hard to stand out amongst the B-segment hatchbacks. So you have a two-tone dashboard that comes in two shades, grey or orange, depending on the exterior colour. The vertical air-con vents look great, and the dimpled effect on the coloured part of the dash stands out too. When it comes to coloured dashboards, it’s a little tricky because if the plastic quality isn’t great, it ends up looking cheap, but no such thing in the C3. However, the quality of plastics in the other parts of the dash, like around the aircon controls, is a little iffy and could have been better.

    Front Row Seats

    The seats, though, feel great. The cushioning is just right, and good support all around means long hours will not be a problem. The high seating position also gives a commanding view of the road. The steering, though, is only tilt-adjustable but not adjustable for reach.

    Second Row Seats

    At the rear, there is ample legroom and headroom. You also get theatre seating at the rear, which means it’s a little raised as compared to the front and Citroen, according to feedback, has designed the cabin such that it’s easy to look out from all angles even when seated at the back. While the rear bench is comfortable, the seat squab could be a little longer.

    Center Console/Centre Console Storage

    The cabin is also very practical, with nifty storage places all around. The C3 gets a boot space of 315 litres. However, for additional storage, there is no 60:40 split option. The rear bench folds entirely, making room for additional storage.

    Instrument Cluster

    On the features front, the C3’s list seems a little scarce. In fact, it’s a little too basic. So let’s take a look at what you don’t get. No auto aircon, no adjustable headrests, no rear wiper, no wireless charging, no sunroof, no shark fin antenna, no LED headlights or taillights and no rear camera. Heck, it does not even get a prismatic rear view mirror.

    Infotainment System

    Now that’s a lot of basic kit missing. What you get is a vertical 10-inch infotainment system that looks great and is easy to use. You do get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; however, it was quite glitchy and lost connection quite a few times. On the safety front, the C3 gets two airbags, reverse parking sensors along with ABS.

    Conclusion

    Let’s get one thing straight first. The C3 is a B-segment hatchback that has SUV elements like the boxy design and high ground clearance, and we appreciate Citroen for not sticking it with an SUV tag just because it’s a popular segment.

    Front View

    Now coming to the product, one of the most significant issues we think will be the lack of features, the car coming across as a little too basic, and the lack of any automatic gearbox options for now. But then the C3 also has a lot going for it. It looks good and will get many customisation options to configure it with. It also gets two very potent engines, which go about their jobs flawlessly.

    Left Side View

    And then there is the ride quality which will make commuting on our pothole-ridden roads a very relaxed affair. With more than 90 per cent localisation, Citroen has also promised extremely affordable after-sales service.

    Left Rear Three Quarter

    The C3 will compete with the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Swift, Ignis, Hyundai Grand i10 and the likes. Now, as a product, it has its share of shortcomings but also has a lot going for it. What will inevitably decide the C3’s fate in the Indian market will be its price. If Citroen manages to price the base Live variant at Rs. 5 lakh and the top-end Feel variant at about 7, the C3 could just have the cash registers ringing.

    Pictures by Kapil Angane

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