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► Citroen C3 review: new You! driven
► One of the cheapest new cars on sale
► Decontented C3 plugs hole left by C1
The Citroen C3 is ageing gracefully to these eyes: a typically modern Citroen, its chic supermini style has survived seven years in showrooms with a facelift in 2020, to keep it ticking over until its successor arrives inside the next year.
Which might explain why it’s deep into special edition territory. And here’s one we can get behind: the new 2023 Citroen C3 You! edition – a stripped-out, pared-back supermini to stretch the price point low enough to make up for the demise of the Citroen C1 city car.
Priced from £13,995, or £149 a month on Citroen’s inhouse finance scheme, it’s one of the cheapest new cars on sale today and offers a bigger, five-door bodyshell at city car budgets. Is it any good? Read on for our full Citroen C3 review.
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Citroen C3 You!: one of Britain’s cheapest new cars
The impressive thing about the You! (apologies about the punctuation explosion of this model name) is that it doesn’t feel like a stripped-out boggo basic car.
For starters, the C3 is a notch up in size, compared with the smaller breed of city cars: it’s a whisker under 4m in length and 1829mm wide and this brings a set of rear doors and – praise be! – a 300-litre boot. The loadbay is noticeably bigger than what you’d find in a typical urban runabout like a VW Up or Kia Rio.
You’ll see the 15-inch steel wheels clearly visible under ill-fitting plastic covers (the Sandero’s are better hidden) but otherwise the C3 You! is remarkably modern and chic-looking, outside at least. Citroen’s short-lived Airbumps trend for bubble-wrapped doors has passed, leaving a crisp, smooth style that still looks appealing.
Our car, unusually, had zero options: it was basic factory spec. If you want to stand out more, you can sprinkle extras on, including a £300 bi-tone white roof and metallic paint for £545.
Step inside and the C3 is a decent place to sit. You won’t be blown away by the quality of materials in the way that some junior Volkswagens manage, but everything works and there’s a zesty, fresh ambience at play to the design.
What strikes you most is the tiny five-inch monochrome screen where the radio would normally sit (see below). Despite appearances, it is actually a touchscreen – and feels as ancient as the first Casio digital watches. Crucially, it works and does the basics effectively and, unless you’re a complete tech-head, we’d wager most people won’t miss all-singing-and-dancing infotainment.
The front seats are quite roomy and comfortable enough, whereas the rear passenger compartment is a little more cramped; children will be fine back there and you can squeeze in adults for shorter trips.
It might be very cheap, but there’s a decent smattering of standard equipment: six airbags are standard, as is cruise control, manual air-conditioning, alarm, remote central locking and tyre pressure monitoring system. Note also wind-up rear windows – a rare sight, nowadays…
Citroen C3 review: driving impressions
The C3 You! is powered by the simplest, cheapest powertrain available in the C3 range: a tiny 1199cc three-cylinder petrol engine, high on character and low on grunt. It’s naturally aspirated, meaning that 82bhp and 87lb ft of torque are your lot – but with a scant 980kg of mass to lug around, performance is just about acceptable. The triple’s soundtrack is quite raucous, but has that characteristic offbeat warble.
Citroen quotes 0-62mph in 12.5 seconds and 103mph flat-out, but it actually feels slower than that. The rather languid, long-throw gearchange doesn’t help, each shift through the five forward gears a rather ponderous affair. At least combined fuel consumption around 50mpg and 123g/km CO2 emissions benefit your wallet. A three-year/60,000-mile warranty is reassuring, too.
It is perhaps unfair to criticise one of the UK’s cheapest cars for lacklustre performance; this is, rather, a car to mobilise young drivers or perhaps serve as an additional family runabout – and it fulfils this brief well. The ride quality has that Citroen plump that we’ve come to know and love, smoothing away the worst of the road acne that peppers our streetscapes.
The Citroen C3 doesn’t feel like a car in its twilight years. Especially when you remember it undercuts the cheapest Ford Fiesta by six grand.
There’s much to like here. At a time when all cars have become heinously expensive, Citroen is to be applauded for launching a simple, back-to-basics supermini. That it can offer a C3-sized car for city car money is all the more impressive: those rear doors and decent boot are to be welcomed.
Basic infotainment aside, the Citroen C3 You! never feels poverty-spec: the design and execution offer just enough fizz to make this cheap car one to consider for those on a budget and it feels remarkably grown-up to drive. Bravo!
|Price when new:||£13,995|
|On sale in the UK:||April 2022|
|Engine:||1199cc three-cylinder petrol, 82bhp @ 5750rpm, 87lb ft @ 2750rpm|
|Transmission:||Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive|
|Performance:||12.5sec 0-62mph, 103mph, 48.5-54.3mpg, 123g/km CO2|
|Weight / material:||980kg/steel|
|Dimensions (length/width/height in mm):||3996/2007/1474mm|