► First pics of new Citroen C3
► Bold, Cactus-like styling
► On sale January 2017
Here it is – the striking new Citroen C3 – a five-door only hatchback set to replace the French manufacturer’s best-selling model.
It'll take centre stage at the 2016 Paris motor show, where it makes its world debut on the company's doorstep.
Golly, that’s quite a bold design…
Isn’t it just. The old C3 sat in the shadow of the eye-catching DS3 somewhat - the same can’t be said for this new car. We like it, though. It feels like a return to form for the traditionally left-field manufacturer. There’s even a C3 WRC rally car on the way to look forward to.
As you’ve probably noticed, the C3 borrows a few external styling cues from the larger C4 Cactus. Not too many though, as the French manufacturer was keen to avoid producing something that looked like a junior version of that car.
So you get a two-tone exterior paint job with contrasting roof, a family-familiar two-tier front light design, and a protective strip of Airbumps on the lower door (not standard on lower trim grades, and can be deleted from higher grades if you're not a fan).
These are made of the same scratch-proof material as on the Cactus (aliphatic thermoplastic polyurethane, apparently) and help to absorb knocks and scrapes in busy car parks.
Is the interior just as colourful?
It’s a bit more restrained indoors, but follows the same formula – a sprinkling of Cactus bits, plus some unique elements too.
The door cards and luggage strap handles have been carried over from the larger car, but there’s a traditional set of gauges rather than the C4’s digital unit. It feels superbly solid and durable, with tough plastics used in high-wear areas and an expensive-sounding clunk when you slam the door.
Helping you settle in is something called the Citroen Advanced Comfort programme, which guides the design and materials used inside the C3. Most noticeable in this respect is the work that has gone into the front seats. They manage to be both squashy and supportive, with plenty of adjustment.
Those in the back are slightly less well-catered for, especially tall passengers. The middle seat is a bit of a squeeze and there isn’t a vast amount of headroom for anyone. But, to be fair, this is a small hatchback, not an MPV.
Unlike a lot of youth-focussed cars in this segment the C3 doesn’t appear to be chasing after a sporty character. In fact the 'S' word doesn’t feature anywhere in Citroen’s C3 press material, unlike the word comfort, which featured 25 times.
That’s reflected in the engine line-up too, which tops out at 108bhp. Full UK spec hasn’t been finalised yet but expect a choice of PureTech three-cylinder petrol and BlueHDi diesels, with manual and automatic transmissions.
All this is supposed to make the C3 feel like an extension of your home, so you get large, comfortable seats, plenty of storage spots, and (unlike our actual house) a general lack of clutter. This is in part thanks to the migration of most of the controls to the seven inch touchscreen.
Everyone has a touchscreen these days, what other cool tech is there?
Headlining the gadget line-up is the Citroën ConnectedCam, which works a bit like a GoPro and dashcam combined.
You can use it to take pictures or videos of your drive, plus it will automatically record footage 30 seconds before and 60 after a crash.
The camera is fitted behind the rear view mirror and looks out on the road with a wide 120 degree angle. There’s no facility to turn it around for selfies, which is probably a good thing.
Pictures and footage can be uploaded to social media via a free Citroen app, which also lets you save the GPS coordinates of your C3 to help locate it in a big car park.
I’m not going to lose it in a car park
Good point, it’s unlikely to blend in, particularly if you take advantage of the wide range of customisation options.
First off there are nine body colours and three roof options, with the latter also taking in the foglamp trims, Airbump surrounds, wing mirror shells and the rear window trim. This isn’t standard on some base models but Citroen reckons half of all cars on the road will be two-tone.
Interior customization takes the form of a choice of three optional moods, altering the upholstery material, dashboard trim, and various other highlights. These are called Metropolitan Grey, Urban Red, and the fabulously named Hype Colorado.
The new Citroen C3 goes on sale in January 2017. No cabriolet or sporty editions are planned yet, but we'll keep you posted if that changes.