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trinacriabob

2 of 2 - 3 day rental across the pond - Citroen C3 with automatic transmission - economy car

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I rented 2 different vehicles lasting 3 days each back to back.  I’ve already reviewed the VW Golf.  The second rental car was a Citroen C3.  This was because each of the rentals took place in a different overseas location.

I had seen the new Citroen vocabulary on display in the atrium area of an indoor shopping center overseas years ago.  I didn’t know what to think of it - both the brand and the styling were unknowns to me.  The one weird feature in the ones on display was the “Airbump.”  Basically, the Airbump is the proprietary name, adopted overseas in English, for the large moulded rubber insert along the side doors.  It’s supposed to function like protective side mouldings.  However, it’s much larger than those, to the point that it fills in an entire recessed sculpted area in the car’s doors.

For this second rental, I went to my Citroen C3 out in the rental lot and it did not have the Airbump.  I got to see what the car looks like without one and I prefer it without the Airbump.  However, in a congested European location, the C3 owner will probably get some dings and dents as a consequence of not having it.

In terms of appearance, the C3 can grow on you fairly quickly.  I definitely liked it more than VW Golf I had right before it.  Its envelope is more rounded without looking jelly bean like.  It seems to be a little taller, too.  The narrow LED headlamps at the top of the grille look interesting, as in “not bad.”  In looking at the previous model (2015 and before), the current C3 is a welcomed improvement.

Mostly, I liked the C3’s interior.  However, I liked the interior layout of the preceding rented vehicle – the VW Golf – better, for its more conventional volumes and very sensible layout.  In the C3, there is the central dual bezel driver instrument pod, with the speedo, the tach, and gauges for fuel and temperature.  However, the infotainment center is a little busier and sits a little below the single horizontal panel that spans the entire upper length of the dashboard, right below the air conditioning vents.  The infotainment center is anchored at the bottom but slightly disengaged at the top, just like it is in our American Chevy Malibu.  As for the horizontal cowl, it protrudes quite a bit and creates a noticeable enough “shelf” between the windshield and the front face of the dashboard.  It felt weird to have this in a small car.  Lastly, the higher line models of the C3 have color bands inserted in the interior.  In my rental car, the accents were red.  In others, they might be "gold," or copper.  Lower line models don’t have these accents.

The C3’s engine was a gasoline 1.2 liter “Pure Tech” 110 hp unit.  I assumed it was a 4 cylinder.  Reading the current reviews indicates it might have been a turbocharged 3 cylinder.  Unlike in a car the likes of the Toyota Aygo, it does not feel grainy like you might be piloting a stripped down econobox.  It sounded and behaved like most smaller 4 cylinders.  The gearbox was a 6 speed automated DSG.  This little engine responded to demands on the throttle fairly well for most conditions.  And, to go with that, the 6 speed automatically shifted near perfectly.  For me, 6 automatic gears is plenty.  It’s when one gets to larger engines that 8 or more automatic gears might make more sense to lower RPMs and conserve fuel.  There are various tiers of C3s and the Europeans give the tiers frivolous names instead of letters, like RS, LT, or SXT.  The automatic gearbox is not available in the lower grade tiers but is available in the higher grade tiers.

The hallmark of this car was the handling and the suspension.  Apparently, Citroen is known for that. The C3 had great road feel and took corners and curves in stride.  It felt very steady on the open road as well as on rural roads and road bumps were absorbed like they would be in a slightly larger car.  Part of this feeling of control could be the marginally higher seating position, the great feel of the stitched steering wheel, and sitting in comfortable seats.  And, despite the thicker rear pillar, visibility was good all the way around.

The C3’s fuel efficiency was respectable.  It wasn’t as thirsty as the VW Golf yet not as economical as the Toyota Aygo.

Since the rentals were back to back, I’d say that I liked the 4 cylinder engine, dashboard, and reliability ratings of the VW Golf more.  However, I l preferred the ride, handling, exterior styling, interior comfort, and 6 speed automated DSG gearbox of the Citroen C3.  I guess you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

In closing, I enjoyed my time behind the wheel of the C3.  They seem to be very popular across the pond, based on spending about 20 minutes in a Citroen showroom one evening.  The C3 was a very easy car to live with, bordering on being fun to drive.

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Posted (edited)

Behind the 8 ball on photos - here they are:

Citroen C3

Descriptions beneath photos

KIMG1787.thumb.JPG.2529467f92e2f42358d2ea73322eb05d.JPG

A side view of the Citroen C3 "super-mini" in the Sicilian countryside

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A top view of the C3 seen from a patio or balcony up higher at the hotel.  Note that the roof has a similar indent to the areas on the door that would be filled in by their trademark Airbump.

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This is how the dashboard registers with a person upon entering the car.  Note that this up-model had the red trim on its black interior with cloth seats

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This is what the driver looks at, so all the information is handy.  I believe it had a digital speed readout (not sure), which I've come to prefer to an analog speedometer gauge.

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This is the infotainment center.  At least it's not placed up high and sticking out.  The climate controls, IIRC, were easy to operate.  The gearshift is nicely finished in addition to working well.  I believe the cup holders should be behind the shifter, not in front of it.  A lip on the cubby could be useful to keep a phone from sliding forward and falling out.

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This is how the remainder of the C3 dashboard plays out.  Notice how far out the top of the cowl protrudes to the functional face of the dash.  I found that a little strange for a small car.  If there's a functional or safety reason behind that, them I'm on board.

End of photos

- - - - -

Edited by trinacriabob
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I like that Citroen tries to be different and funky while trying to keep high level of comfort. Cool reviews, thanks!

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While these could be "spotting" photos organized by the months, I thought I'd put these few here to show what a Citroen C3 looks like with the Airbump.  The first time I saw the Airbump, I didn't really like it.  Citroen did their best at making it functional and aesthetic.  It definitely works overtime compared to thin protective side mouldings!  It's not a requirement since some C3s don't have it.

With its tires and wheels, this is most likely an up-level model.  This was not my rental car.  My rental car was black.

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Side view

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Front 3/4 view

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Rear 3/4 view 

Fun little car.

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Posted (edited)

I like Citroens and French cars in general. That 'airbump' trim on the C3 is similar to how the 1st gen C4 Cactus looked.

citroen-c4-cactus.jpg

The new C4 Cactus moved the trim down lower and made it smaller..

 

 

citroen-c4-cactus-ext-34.jpg

Edited by Robert Hall
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One man's 'cool, funky, I know what they call the acres of randomly slathered cladding' is another man's 'forgettable, transverse / FWD generic appliance shitbox'.

What a disjointed, schizophrenic design, apparently by the same folk that bring you these:

Screen Shot 2020-04-23 at 11.25.23 AM.png

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38 minutes ago, balthazar said:

One man's 'cool, funky, I know what they call the acres of randomly slathered cladding' is another man's 'forgettable, transverse / FWD generic appliance $h!box'.

What a disjointed, schizophrenic design, apparently by the same folk that bring you these:

Screen Shot 2020-04-23 at 11.25.23 AM.png

Funny, you never say this about boring generic appliance crap boxes GM keeps putting out...

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6 hours ago, Robert Hall said:

I like Citroens and French cars in general. That 'airbump' trim on the C3 is similar to how the 1st gen C4 Cactus looked.

citroen-c4-cactus.jpg

 

Yes, it was this Airbump that I saw being exhibited in a shopping mall and I remember the name "Cactus."  You wouldn't have nearly as many dings and dents, but could a person walk up to that car as their daily driver without cringing?  Thankfully, it has been minimized.

I think that a 2 inch wide strip, with two strata would work just fine - the edges of it in the body color and the insets in black rubber - just a thought.  It would have to be modeled to see how good, neutral, or bad it might look.  I'm sorry that body side mouldings are largely gone.

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Posted (edited)

Dings and dents are part of car ownership and I view them as character and survivor scars.  

I, like everybody else, am very wary about my new car being dinged. I do all the schizophrenic rituals such as parking far and isolated from other cars and drivers. I do all the walk arounds every single time I get into my new car to see if it has been dinged or paint chipped on the hood...  And  I put myself through that stress for the 1st three years of new car ownership.   

The only thing I do when the car gets a tad older is I just park in strategic places to minimize high traffic. I continue to park farther and the like. 

I dont think I would like all that airbump trim on my rides. 

Ribbed, black rubber...Id rather save that for certain...um... toys...thank you very much.   (use your imagination to what kind of toys Im referring to...) 

Edited by oldshurst442
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6 hours ago, ykX said:

Funny, you never say this about boring generic appliance crap boxes GM keeps putting out...

That’s not a given? / when did I wax poetic about them?

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1 hour ago, trinacriabob said:

  I'm sorry that body side mouldings are largely gone.

I am not, Body side molding such as what was on my 1994 Suburban which I removed are for lazy people who have no respect for other's auto's IMHO. Respect others auto's and expect the same for yours.

Even with that said, I can say that my SS has gotten a few door dings and I have spent the money to have the door ding specialists remove them to keep her perfect. Part of auto ownership and the nice clean look it gives the auto when you look down the side.

Over all I am glad the ugly rubber ribs down the middle of the side are gone. They did not help the look or flow of an auto.

Like @oldshurst442 said, if ya got a new auto or your a bit OCD like me, then you park out far away from the lazy people who do not respect others auto's and ding them.

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14 hours ago, balthazar said:

That’s not a given? / when did I wax poetic about them?

Not once you comment on their cars the way you comment on Asian or European products.  That's ok, everyone has biases.  

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Posted (edited)

That seems to be readily 'handled' by others.
I find it curious that something like -say- the Regal Tour-X is pointedly commented on more than once about it's so-called cladding, yet a 'Cactus' with 'Airbud' doors half covered with lumpy unpainted black plastic largely gets a pass. Just trying to instill a little leveling.
Chevrolet brings out something as hideous as the cactus airbud and I'll be sure to comment.

Edited by balthazar

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Just now, balthazar said:

That seems to be readily 'handled' by others.
I find it curious that something like -say- the Regal Tour-X is pointedly commented on more than once about it's so-called cladding, yet a 'Cactus' with 'Airbud' doors half covered with lumpy unpainted black plastic largely gets a pass. Just trying to instill a little leveling.

Very different cars with very different goals.  Cactus is a small city car that looks funky and the cladding is actually useful (if you ever have been in a big city like NYC for example you should know). 

On the other hand Regal X is an upscale wagon.  Had no need for the cladding, especially since we could compare how it looks without the cladding on the European model.

I do agree with you, for example that new Mazda CX-30 looks horrendous with its huge cladding.  So, I don't think it is one size fits all thing.

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MX-30 definitely is overwraught, but the cactus, regardless of it's 'mission' or intended useage (you can't regulate what environment private owners are going to use your product in. Witness how many smart cars you see on the interstate- supposedly never it's intention), is an affront to the senses. Axiom, Aztek, Cactus; all in the same basket of ugly.

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Posted (edited)

Well I like Citroens, especially old ones like the 2CV, DS, CM and Ami.  Do they even have air suspension anymore, or have they gone with the lowest common denominator, Macpherson struts? 

Same reason Honda used to be special, their their double wishbones, which allowed a super-low cowl, excellent visibility and deft handling.

Sad the homogenization of modern automobildom.  And it's only getting worse.  Too much consolidation.

Edited by ocnblu

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22 hours ago, dfelt said:

I am not, Body side molding such as what was on my 1994 Suburban which I removed are for lazy people who have no respect for other's auto's IMHO. Respect others auto's and expect the same for yours.

I'd like to imagine that sort of utopia, but we know not everyone is like that.  What sometimes happens is that narrow parking spaces have been grandfathered forward in time, without asking owners to re-stripe.  If you wound up with several old school Park Avenues next to each other, it would be hard to open your door to the first hinge point to get out.  I wonder how many people have torn high end suits or dresses in trying to get out of their cars and be considerate to other car owners.  The problem is how the parking lots may be laid out.  The only place I can think of that has the buffer zones already striped in between adjacent parking spaces is Costco.

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Ha.  I was organizing and purging photo files and it seems I hadn't uploaded these.

I couldn't believe how this played out:  there was a wait to see the sales reps so it was soft sell and this dealership had Citroen C3s on display, not to mention these hanging chairs I remember seeing in my childhood and teenage years, which were ideal for hanging from the beams on an outdoor wooden patio in a warm climate.

Inside a Citroen dealership in another land:

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This one was spoken for (sold tag somewhere on it):

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One of the current odd pastel colors that's popular across the pond ... "Why?" I ask ...

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I got a kick out of this chair:

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i.e. the depth of the top of the dash on the Cactus, I think that is a result of the steep windshield rake/cab forward design.   Think of 90s cars w/ steep windshields like the Chrysler LH cars, '91+ Caprice/etc, 4th gen Camaro/Firebird..all had steep windshields w/deep dashes... 

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18 minutes ago, Robert Hall said:

i.e. the depth of the top of the dash on the Cactus, I think that is a result of the steep windshield rake/cab forward design.   Think of 90s cars w/ steep windshields like the Chrysler LH cars, '91+ Caprice/etc, 4th gen Camaro/Firebird..all had steep windshields w/deep dashes... 

Right, now that I think about my '92 Regal coupe with a deep shelf or cowl, not to mention the unique "ravine" dash it had from 1988 to 1994, before it took on the more conventional 3 zone dash with the bigger glove box seen in other W-bodies, such as the very last Cutlass Supreme with the blacked out C-pillars.

I'm undecided as to whether I prefer the long shelf or the short cowl, which is really apparent in the current Chevy Malibu where the dash starts a downward descent right from the windshield.

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11 minutes ago, trinacriabob said:

Right, now that I think about my '92 Regal coupe with a deep shelf or cowl, not to mention the unique "ravine" dash it had from 1988 to 1994, before it took on the more conventional 3 zone dash with the bigger glove box seen in other W-bodies, such as the very last Cutlass Supreme with the blacked out C-pillars.

I'm undecided as to whether I prefer the long shelf or the short cowl, which is really apparent in the current Chevy Malibu where the dash starts a downward descent right from the windshield.

I see it my Jeep also, the ‘14 has a deeper dash than the ‘00 had.  

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I absolutely hated the C3 I had as a rental in South of France two years ago.  It was manual transmission and not a diesel.  Absolutely gutless and arduous to drive, especially in the mountains. No gear was ever the right gear. The interior was plasticy and felt very cheaply built. 

I was extra salty about it because I had reserved an Insignia, but they gave that away right before I got there and a C3 was a substantial downgrade.  National/Enterprise ended up refunding $750+ dollars because I kicked up such a fuss.  Sure I got most of my money back, but I still would have liked to have had a comfortable car for driving through the French Alps instead of that shitbox.

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Posted (edited)

@Drew Dowdell  I think I liked my C3 because I've had really small, buzzy, manual Renault and Peugeot econoboxes in southern Europe in that past and did not like them at all.  I would imagine that, with the combination of a diesel, a manual, and difficult driving situations, the C3 would be no fun at all.

I was amazed by how the shift quality of automatic transmissions in small European cars has gotten so much better.  Early 2000s Smart cars with automatics have volumes written about how awful their automatic transmissions were in terms of shift quality (can't vouch for reliability).  The receptionist at the Citroen dealership told me that people over there NOW like the DSG very much.  I learned that this is what southern Europeans call automatic transmissions.  In the past, automatic transmissions were viewed negatively in southern Europe in that they took the fun and control out of driving.

I recently learned that the small gasoline engine in the C3 and similar cars is a 3 cylinder engine! That's what the cheap Toyota Aygo has, as well as the Mitsubishi Mirage.

I had the reverse situation.  I was once supposed to get a Fiat 500 or something automatic.  They didn't have any.  I ended up in an Opel Insignia automatic wagon.  Three fantastic days:  the ride, the quiet, the barely noticeable shifting, and the familiar feel of a cousin of GM-Buick.  The thing was that, at this airport, Thrifty was served by the Hertz counter.  The rental agent printed the agreement and it came up to about 350 Euro.  In nicer words, I asked "WTF?"  Turns out they had put it on a Hertz form and pre-selected ALL the optional insurances.  I pointed out that my reservation with Thrifty amounted to about 160 Euro.  They tore up the Hertz printout and ran the correct one.  You have to watch these schmucks.

Edited by trinacriabob

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13 hours ago, trinacriabob said:

@Drew Dowdell  I think I liked my C3 because I've had really small, buzzy, manual Renault and Peugeot econoboxes in southern Europe in that past and did not like them at all.  I would imagine that, with the combination of a diesel, a manual, and difficult driving situations, the C3 would be no fun at all.

I was amazed by how the shift quality of automatic transmissions in small European cars has gotten so much better.  Early 2000s Smart cars with automatics have volumes written about how awful their automatic transmissions were in terms of shift quality (can't vouch for reliability).  The receptionist at the Citroen dealership told me that people over there NOW like the DSG very much.  I learned that this is what southern Europeans call automatic transmissions.  In the past, automatic transmissions were viewed negatively in southern Europe in that they took the fun and control out of driving.

I recently learned that the small gasoline engine in the C3 and similar cars is a 3 cylinder engine! That's what the cheap Toyota Aygo has, as well as the Mitsubishi Mirage.

I had the reverse situation.  I was once supposed to get a Fiat 500 or something automatic.  They didn't have any.  I ended up in an Opel Insignia automatic wagon.  Three fantastic days:  the ride, the quiet, the barely noticeable shifting, and the familiar feel of a cousin of GM-Buick.  The thing was that, at this airport, Thrifty was served by the Hertz counter.  The rental agent printed the agreement and it came up to about 350 Euro.  In nicer words, I asked "WTF?"  Turns out they had put it on a Hertz form and pre-selected ALL the optional insurances.  I pointed out that my reservation with Thrifty amounted to about 160 Euro.  They tore up the Hertz printout and ran the correct one.  You have to watch these schmucks.

Yeah, this was served by Enterprise though I rented through National.  I always rented National because I was their super executive elite top tier renter since I typically had 50-60 rentals a year.  I've always found Enterprise's customer service to be terrible, even here in the states, while National has always been exceptional and done everything possible to keep my business.  My last rental with National back in March I had reserved a Malibu... I ended up in a brand new loaded X3 for the same price.  Drove it to Florida and back for $260~.  They lost money on that one.

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