CITROEN prides itself on being a forward-thinking brand and it might just have stolen a march on its rivals with the ultimate in social media tools - the new C3.
The French supermini has had a fun and funky Cactus-style makeover which includes the world's first fully integrated HD dashcam, located just behind the rear-view mirror. Dubbed ConnectedCAM, it enables the driver and passenger to safely take pictures, record videos and to share them instantly on social media channels. Effectively, the car is a giant smartphone.
Perhaps more importantly, in the event of an accident, the video switches on automatically, recording what happened 30 seconds before and 60 seconds after an incident. Very useful as evidence following a collision.
In case you're wondering how it can predict the future - it can't. The camera is constantly recording and then deleting footage but cleverly saves this all-important footage.
On top of that technological trickery, the new C3 is now streets ahead of its predecessor in terms of striking looks - and not just because of the instantly recognisable scratch-friendly ‘Airbump' panels which first appeared on the C4 Cactus. Buyers can decide to opt out of having them on this model though.
The distinctive new look includes the two-tier front light signature synonymous with Citroen. Double chrome strips extend from the chevrons and go all the way across to the LED daytime running lights. The fog lights feature coloured surrounds though this prompted a friend to say she'd ‘never seen a car with speakers on the front before'.
Black windscreen pillars accentuate the ‘floating roof' - now 40mm lower - and widened wheel arches add to the C3's dynamic new look.
For added customisation, the new model comes in nine body and three roof colours, giving 36 possible combinations to choose from. There are also three interior colour schemes to consider.
Inside, the C3 remains surprisingly roomy, its spaciousness heightened by the horizontal dashboard, which runs across the whole width of the vehicle.
Naturally integral to on-board well-being, the visibly comfortable seats have a uniquely wide and generous design giving extra shoulder room. The shape and position of the front seats also give better forward visibility for passengers in the rear.
Citroen's designers drew inspiration from travel - fetching ‘case strap' door handles - and home interior design to create a welcoming, modern, contemporary cabin and it's a pleasant uncluttered place to be.
The C3 is a five-door, five-seater with an impressive 300 litres of boot space though passengers a little of that could have been sacrificed to give longer-legged adults a little more room in the rear. Although it is a five-seater, taller adults may not want to spend too long there.
Uncluttered is also the watchword of the aforementioned dashboard where a new seven-inch touchscreen gives quick and easy access to all of the car's main functions.
There's also keyless entry and start, a reversing camera, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, hill start assist and a tiredness alert.
Prices from Â£10,995 and coming in three trim levels - Touch, Feel and Flair - the new C3 is powered by a choice of three Puretech three-cylinder petrol engines, ranging from 68 to 110bhp with five-speed manual transmission, and two 55bhp and 100bhp BlueHDi diesel powertrains.
A six-speed auto gearbox will be available from February.
Both petrol and diesel options are extremely good so it may come down to how you are going to use the car which you choose.
The 110bhp three-cylinder has ample power to push the C3 along very nicely indeed. It's quick and fun to drive, nippy and manoeuvrable with a delightful thrum from the three-cylinder powerplant under acceleration. Grip is good, handling is sharp and you can easily put a grin on your face on out-of-town twistys.
That said, the 100bhp diesel offers a lot more torque across the range, better mileage and tax-friendly emissions. The choice is yours.
What is extremely remarkable though is the ride, refinement and - that word again - comfort of both petrol and diesel models.
Citroen says its grandly named ‘Advanced Comfort' programme was influential in the design of the new C3 and it certainly shows. Not only does the soundproofing do and extremely good job of sifting out engine, road and wind noise, but the new suspension system is exemplary in dealing with all but the largest lumps and bumps.
For such a small car, such ride comfort is seriously impressive.
The C3 is Citroen's best-selling model with more than 3.6 million sold since its original launch in 2002. The new C3 is so good - picture perfect? - it is sure to surpass that. It may even take sales off the more expensive but phenomenally popular DS 3, with which it bears more than a passing resemblance.
On sale on January 3 it's an experience to be sharedâ¦