A TRANSFORMATION is under way at Citroen as the all-new C3 supermini arrives with a bump.
Like the C4 Cactus before it the new C3 is getting some added body armour.
Citroen calls it the Airbump - a pair of air-filled panels fixed to the side of the car.
Think of it as heavy duty designer bubble wrap to protect from minor bumps and grazes.
Like ‘em or loathe them, they work and are standard kit on the top range versions of the new C3 which will be arriving in the UK in the first week of the New Year.
The new model is the third generation of the French car maker's current top seller and with prices ranging from Â£10,995 to Â£17,095 the latest C3 is competitively pitched against the likes of the Ford Fiesta and VW Polo.
The C3 for 2017 also has another innovation up its sleeve by becoming the first car in the world to come with its own dash cam, sited behind the rear view mirror.
As with the Airbump the so-called ConnectCAM is standard on the top grade Flair trim and a £380 option on mid-range Feel models where the Airbump can also be had as an extra as part of a £290 style pack that also includes front fog lamps.
Don't want the Airbump and Citroen will delete it for free.
With or without it the new C3 has chunkier looks than its predecessor and the cabin is thoroughly modern, centred on a seven-inch full colour touch screen.
On the engine front Citroen is making full use of its 1.2-litre, three cylinder PureTech petrol engines in the C3 line up as well as its 1,6-litre BlueHDi diesels rated at either 75 or 100bhp,
On paper the diesels stack up as the most economical with emissions as low as 92g/km and an official fuel return of 80mpg - but they carry a premium of up to Â£2,300 over the petrol alternatives so only high mileage drivers will feel the benefit.
The PureTech cars are more than up to the job and will be available in three power outputs of 68, 82 and 110bhp, the more powerful version turbocharged and available either as a five speed manual or - come February - a six speed auto priced from Â£17,195.
Significantly it was the two higher powered petrol variants Citroen featured for the new C3's evaluation drives and both performed satisfactorily showing real world fuel returns of 40mpg for the 82bhp manual and 39 to the gallon for the automatic.
Citroen claims official figures in the low 60s with a CO2 rating of 108g/km for the manual and an impressive 110g/km for the auto which delivers a nicely composed drive.
Boot space ranges from 300 to 922 litres which is good enough for three cases and a bit more with all seats occupied and as a five door model the interior is of family proportions and the seats very supportive and comfortable.
Technology includes Bluetooth, lane departure warning systems and speed sign recognition across the range with full smartphone integration on all but the basic model.
Download an App for the dash cam system and it can be used to take snapshots or short videos of your journey as well as operating automatically in an emergency, capturing events 30 seconds before and 60 seconds after an incident.
The interior is smart and fashionable and high on personalisation options which include two-tone finishes inside and out. The dash, with contrasting leather inserts, is particularly on trend and upmarket.
In this day and age where cars have to be as much a lifestyle accessory as a posh pair of sneakers, the C3 is well dressed.
Citroen is renowned for taking an avant garde approach to its models and the new C3 is certainly in that groove - just very subtle in the way it goes about it.
It's got style, panache and a dare to be different all rolled up in one - features which along with those side panels are guaranteed to bump up its appeal.