By Mike Torpey on 2017-09-02 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Citroen C3 BlueHDi
RATHER like one of those sticker books where you add bits, bobs and splashes of colour to a plain object, Citroen has transformed its C3 supermini.
What was originally a pleasant but nonetheless ordinary small car is now, in its third generation, a dazzling ticket to ride.
Even in its most affordable form the new C3 is a head-turner; go the whole hog with high spec plus options and you have a car that looks like a concept from a motor show plinth.
There are nine body colours, three different shades for the roof and a total of 36 different combinations.
And if that's not sufficient, well you could copy the tested model and go for Orange Power paint at £495 and contrast it with an Opal White roof (no extra cost), white wing mirrors and foglamp surrounds and some 17-inch diamond cut 'cross' alloys for another £200.
The colours apart, the French brand has taken two particularly significant steps with the C3, one of which is what it calls the Citroen Advanced Comfort programme.
Inspired by the worlds of travel and interior design, it aims to give buyers 'a sense of serenity, comfort and calm' inside the cabin through its use of soft and welcoming textiles.
It works too, thanks to comfortable seating, high quality fabrics and plenty of interior space - including appreciably scooped out front seat backs to boost legroom.
A 300-litre boot and various stowage compartments add to the versatility and the designers took the smart step of finishing the door pockets in a pale colour, making it easier to find items like keys or a mobile phone in poor light.
The second and equally sensible step Citroen took was to give the C3 some designer bubble wrap to protect the bodywork against scuffs and car park scrapes.
It comes in the shape of the same Airbump panels already used to great effect on the C4 Cactus and now standard fit on top range C3 variants.
But the latest C3 isn't just about style; there are plenty of techno treats as well.
Leading the way is ConnectedCAM, which features a wide-angle HD camera behind the rear-view mirror, GPS technology and a 128GB memory.
You can use it to safely take photos or videos for instantly sharing via social media using a free app and also operate as a conventional dashcam, recording events 30 seconds before and one minute after an incident.
Top end kit also includes MirrorLink and Apple CarPlay, a reversing camera, hill-start assist, a lane departure warning system, blind-spot monitoring and a driver attention alert.
While Citroen's 1.2-litre, three cylinder PureTech petrol engines are available in three power outputs, the tested model was a four cylinder 1.6-litre BlueHDi 100bhp version with Start & Stop and five-speed manual transmission.
The petrol variants, which start at £10,995 in entry grade Touch trim, represent the value but the diesels, from £13,295, will give you an extra 20 miles per gallon, officially at least.
Citroen C3 BlueHDi 100 Flair
Mechanical: 100bhp, 1,560cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 115mph
0-62mph: 10.6 seconds
Combined MPG: 76.3
Insurance Group: 20
C02 emissions: 95g/km
Bik rating: 21%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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