FEW car makers allow their national character traits to influence their design quite as much as Citroen.
Flair, charm and individualism are part of the French DNA. They even have their own word for it...chic.
And the new Citroen C3 supermini has the qualities by the bucket load. And it will need them to combat competition from the Polo, Corsa and the soon-to-be launched new Fiesta.
With its dodgem car-like side rubbing strips or Airbump panels as Citroen prefers them to be known, ‘floating roof' and three vertically stacked front lights, it certainly stands out from the car park crowd.
Its design team have endeavoured to build on renown Citroen attributes from the past such as comfort, style and economy. Probably a wise move because the platform and underpinnings of the latest C3 aren't exactly state of the art which explains why it lacks some of the handling finesse of a Fiesta or the smooth refinement of the Polo.
But with its cheeky new face, cosseting ride and reasonably prices - starting at Â£10,995 - it's sure to make new friends when it goes on sale next month.
Engines include three versions of the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol three cylinder, and a 1.6 litre diesel in either 74bhp or 99bhp form. Best sellers are likely to be the petrol models as diesels fail to hit the spot with buyers in this sector.
Five speed gearboxes are standard throughout the line up with a six speed automatic becoming available in some models later.
Citroen has gone flat out to make the C3 extra family friendly as well as comfortable - all round visibility from the driving seat is first class, door pockets are deep and wide for the inevitable clutter and the 300litre boot is among the best in class.
Three spec levels are available and the top line Flair includes a built in dash cam which also allows social media sharing so you can email a snap of your arrival at a venue to chums. Obviously, it also has the safety merits of ordinary dash cams as well.
Centre of the dashboard which is treated to a bright red perimeter border is a seven-inch touch screen with full connectivity, DAB radio and Bluetooth.
The plastic mouldings of the facia aren't as touch-friendly as some rivals but there's no shortage of style or charm. Overall the cabin is a pleasant place to be with enough space front and rear for four.
I drove the 1.2-litre three-cylinder 110bhp first, which is anticipated to be one of the best selling models. The eager little engine is nicely subdued in terms of noise if not energy with a distant ‘thrum' as the revs rise.
It responds quickly to a jab of the accelerator and accelerates to 62mph in a swift 9.3 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 117mph.
Suspension is softer than most superminis and poor surfaces are easily with. Few jolts are transmitted to passengers but there's a degree of cornering roll when you get a move on along windy roads.
Despite the lively performance, the 110 version manages a creditable 61.4mpg with emissions for 103g/km.
Price for the PureTech 110 in top line Flair trim is £15,995.
The diesel 100 version may lose out on 10bhp but it feels even more nimble thanks to extra torque, even though statistics show it to be a second or so slower to 62mph.
The 1.6-litre turbo unit is well insulated and noise levels are suppressed but it feels a little nose heavy when pressing on through bends.
Where the HDi 100 scores highest is fuel economy which is given at 76.3mpg combined. Emissions are an impressive 95g/km which will hold strong appeal to company car users.
Funky and fun yet extremely practical, the C3 maximised Citroen's established strengths and presents a genuine alternative to supermini buyers.