Citroen C3 Flair 1.2

PureTech 110

CITROEN has over many years been renowned for coming up with different, quite unique and in many ways quirky cars that sets them apart from the rest of the pack.

While some motorists shun them, the French car maker has still carved out its own successful niche attracting plenty of drivers.

The most recent example was the Spanish-made C4 Cactus, a kind of mini-crossover-cum-compact SUV with its unusual styling that included a choice of distinct Airbump plastic panels on the car's side to make it stand out.

Now three years on the Citroen backroom team have given the same Airbump treatment to their latest and third generation C3 hatchback.

It's certainly given the C3 a welcome new look but equally important this latest incarnation has two major improvements over the two previous models.

First the ride is far more comfortable than most rivals, including the Fiesta it has to be said, and secondly the controls and dashboard lay out have been so simplified in making it easier and more user-friendly for the driver, again something you couldn't often say about a Citroen car.

This latest C3, again only available as a five-door, also has more interior space particularly for rear seat passengers thanks due in part to a longer wheelbase - up 77mm. The car is also slightly wider and sits a bit lower on the road.

As before, there are three trim levels starting with Touch, then Feel and the range-topping Flair where those natty Airbumps come as standard along with 16-inch alloy wheels while all three have the distinct black plastic wheel arches which do help to make the C3 stand out from rivals.

Enginewise there's a choice of three petrol power outputs - 67bhp, 81bhp and 108bhp - all from Peugeot's now renowned 1.2-litre PureTech three-cylinder engine plus two diesel options, 74bhp or 99bhp from a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine already seen in other PSA cars.

The best of what is a good bunch of powertrains is the turbocharged 108bhp PureTech. It naturally gives a punchy road-going performance but not at the expense of fuel consumption - I averaged a creditable 54mpg - and coupled with the top spec Flair, Airbumps and all, makes for entertaining motoring and fun to drive for the person behind the wheel.

The PureTech engines have certainly helped both Peugeot and Citroen to up their game on the power train side because this three-cylinder is a real corker and ideally suited to a car the size of a C3.

Here the 108bhp version is lively and responsive, has good torque and with a decent enough five-speed manual gearbox on board it's fun to drive too and thankfully quieter than some rival one-litre, three-cylinders now on the road.

This latest C3 has had some suspension adjustments, making for a softer ride than before and also more comfortable too while the steering is light yet positive and only some body roll and bounce on the more uneven of our roads when driving at motorway speeds.

Prices too are competitive with the entry level Touch and its 67bhp engine coming in at £10,995 on the road but really the pick of the range has to be that top spec Flair with the 108bhp turbocharged engine which is £16,285 on the road, not really expensive when you compare to its main rivals like the Fiesta with top spec.

This model has the snazzy red trim and stitching inside making it distinctive and for the driver a seven-inch infotainment screen with sat nav, phone-mirror functions, aid con controls and also a built-in camera but like a dash cam situated behind the interior mirror which links into a phone app and allows photography and videoing.

For the driver it's all uncluttered as one say, fairly simple in its layout which in turns makes it an easy car to drive while in the bag there is a noticeable increase in passenger head and leg room while the boot space of 300 litres, above the average, and there are plenty of storage places for those oddments.

The interior has reasonably finished furniture, naturally plenty of plastic but with the Flair there are a few extras on board fitted as standard, such as a leather steering wheel, front fog lamps, auto dimming rear view mirror. Automatic lights and windscreen wipers, dark tinted rear windows, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.

FAST FACTS

Citroen C3 Flair 1.2 PureTech 110

Price: £16,285

Mechanical: 108bhp, 1,198cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed:117mph

0-62mph: 9.3 seconds

Combined MPG: 61.4

Insurance Group: 16

C02 emissions: 103g/km

Bik rating: 17%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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