CITROEN describes itself as a "mainstream brand that likes to shake up the rules" and that's exactly what the French manufacturer has done with its best-selling C3 model.
With more than 3.6 million global sales since its launch back in 2002 the supermini has always been a popular choice, but the latest third generation model adds plenty of extra appeal with new state-of-the art technology, lots of personalisation options and a sporty new design.
The new C3 is a guaranteed head-turner with sharp styling cues including two-tier headlight signatures, a double chrome front trim that incorporated the company chevrons, a 'floating' roof effect thanks to black side pillars, a lowered roofline to improve aerodynamics, 3D rear lights, a new C3 badge, smart alloys and the option of Airbump side protection panels.
There are three roof colours and nine body colours to choose from offering a choice of 36 colour combinations, along with three interior options called Standard, Urban Red or Hype Colorado.
The interior of the five-door, five-seater is clutter-free with plenty of on-board technology as standard. There are three trim grades called Touch (from Â£10,995), Feel (Â£13,045) and Flair (Â£14,795) and depending which spec is selected customers can expect to see the likes of Citroen's Connect DAB radio with six speakers, Bluetooth, a seven-inch voice and touch activated touchscreen with sat nav, Mirror Screen with Mirror Link and Apple CarPlay, automatic air conditioning and a rather ingenious system called ConnectedCAM.
This system which is standard on Flair models and optional on Feel (£380) uses a fully integrated camera located behind the rear view mirror. For fun and games it can capture photos and video to be shared with friends, but on a more important note if the car is involved in an accident it records the 30 seconds before and 60 seconds after impact and this can be used as evidence in any court action that may follow.
Customers can select from five engines - a trio of PureTech three cylinder petrol engines with 68, 82 and 110bhp, or two BlueHDi diesel variants offering 75 or 100bhp. All models are manual although an automatic version will be offered from next February.
We tried a couple of models on country lanes and motorways near the Malvern Hills and both had their own individual appeal.
First up was the C3 Flair BlueHDi 100 diesel priced at £17,095 (£18,555 with options). This car can reach from 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds, topped out at 115mph, can deliver combined fuel economy of 76.3mpg and has carbon emissions of just 95g/km.
This first thing to say about the new C3, apart from its funky and dashing appearance, is how spacious the interior is. Even with the front seats pushed quite a way back, there is ample leg room for back seat passengers. In fact, rear leg space has been increased by an additional 22mm.
There is a bright and modern feel to the car with all controls and readouts ideally positioned for driver use. There are a number of handy storage options scattered throughout the car including a compact glovebox, cup holders, door pockets that are lined with a light colour so items can easily be seen and a generously-sized boot with a capacity of 300 litres that is increased to 922 litres with the rear seats dropped flat.
Comfort was one of the key areas addressed by Citroen when developing the new C3 and the car boats updated suspension, new power steering and improved aerodynamics to help keep noise and vibration levels to a minimum.
The 1.6-litre diesel powertrain delivered plenty of bite and there was a constant supply of power on tap which helped to make light work of overtaking. It also coped admirable with any steep climbs. The road-holding was assured and the steering nice and precise. There was a little engine noise when pushed hard, but that was my only slight gripe â¦ if I was being particularly picky.
Next up was the C3 Feel stop/start PureTech 82 petrol version priced at £13,745, increased to £15,720 with options added. This model reaches 62mph from a standing start in 13.0 seconds with a top speed of 104mph. According to official stats it can achieve combined fuel economy of 60.1mpg with carbon emissions of 109g/km.
Once again this little three-pot engine was great fun. It was lively and fizzed across the Tarmac. It did struggle a little when climbing hills and several gear changes were necessary, but apart from that the car was a pure delight to drive as it whizzed through the five-speed manual transmission.
The petrol model is slightly more thirsty than its diesel counterpart, but we still managed to see 47.0 mpg during our drive. The diesel showed 54.3mpg. But in all honesty both cars impressed in their own individual ways.
Since launch, more than 3.6 million C3 models have been sold globally with 200,000 models driven away from UK showrooms during that time. So it comes as no surprise that the latest C3 will likely be met with the same level of excitement and enthusiasm.