Pros – unique styling; comfortable seating; solid ride and handling.
Cons – pricey; limited rear leg and head room.
The latest offering from the back in SA brand is the 2021 Citroen C3 Shine, and we have thought up a few keywords to describe it starting with quirky, fun, cool, different, and possibly even pretty. It’s a fantastical little hatch that offers unique styling, a funky design and plenty of practicality.
It even sports Air Bumps, which are at least slightly more discreet then the previous door protection fitted to the Citroën Cactus which was questionable styling even for Citroën. I quietly like them, mainly due to the protection it offers from a rogue door in a Cape Town windy parking lot.
It can be had in a multitude of cool colours too, including Polar White (with a red roof), Spring Blue, Arctic Steel (with a Black roof, as tested) Elixir Red and Perla Nera Black (with a red roof)
Things get a little simpler from there though, as there’s just one interior trim, cloth with Silver highlights. In the case of our test vehicle, you’ll find the broad dashboard element is finished off in a glossy piano black and surrounded by a satin silver trim section and accentuated by the chrome air vent rings that all tie into the rounded rectangle design theme. Everywhere you look, you will find this theme and motif carried through. How many rounded rectangles can you spot?
There is also literally only two specs, that being the Shine we’re testing here and the Feel, so there’s no confusion over which model to get either, because you want all the shiny things!
Some safety features standard on the Shine trim is blind spot detection, lane departure warning, driver attention alert, speed limit recognition and recommendation, distance alert and tyre pressure monitoring though, so that’s kind of a win.
ABS is standard, and paired with electronic brake distribution and emergency braking assist. Six airbags will keep occupants safe too, along with auto hazard lights under heavy braking, dynamic stability control and anti-skid technology.
It comes loaded with plenty of tech too, including keyless entry and push button start, cruise control, a reach and rake adjustable steering column, and front and rear parking sensors. You won’t find heating or ventilation in either of the front seats, nor will you find power adjustment for them either. but at this price point and segment its to be expected. In the plus column, there are some fancy looking daytime running lights, and you’ll find two good sized cup holders in the centre console which is handy.
The steering wheel is full leather, and there’s a tonne of satin chrome, and metallic silver highlights throughout the interior. But it wouldn’t be a French car without some quirk now would it. Take the luggage-inspired interior door handles for example first seen in the older Cactus models
The infotainment system feels size-wise like it was aesthetics over practicality at 7.0-inches, but has plenty to offer in terms of features, including Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Below that its got a USB port and 12v socket feature. You’ll also score climate control air-conditioning, auto headlights and windscreen wipers, and 300-litres of boot space (with the seats up). Put them down, and that grows 922-litres which it right at the top side of this segment.
But it’s on the road where the 2021 Citroen C3 Shine comes into its own, with great ride and handling. It’s actually a fun little car to drive, and offers solid power delivery from its Puretech 1.2-litre turbocharged 3-cylinder petrol engine. Mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, it delivers 81kW of power and 205Nm of torque. That doesn’t sound like AMG power, but remember it’s a little car so its all down to power to weight ratios. It’s a light weight at (1,090kg), and the powertrain does a great job of delivering get up and go, its still one of the best paired engine and gearboxes in class!
With a top speed of just 188km/h and a claimed 0-100km/h time of 10.9 seconds which we managed to achieve 10.19 seconds (draggy), it isn’t going to win any races, but it doesn’t feel like it’s struggling, even under heavy acceleration it just gets up and goes!
Citroen claims fuel economy of 4.9-litres/100km, but our best was 6.1-litres/100km over the week with the test car, granted it was new with hardly any kilometres on the clock so it might improve as it gets run in, but we also mixed some spirited driving as would you.
The fully loaded Shine we tested here is priced at R 324 900.00, That’s a bit pricey. but if you compare it with a similarly spec’d Volkswagen Polo, you’ll see its actually pretty good value. There’s a host of accessories and optional extras to be had too, including 17-inch wheels, different bumper trims, roof racks, bike mounts, random roof sticker kits, a rear spoiler and strangely, a massive protective cover for the rear bench seat.
If one is able to set aside the past mistakes of the brand in South Africa, discard the misconceptions that the vehicles are unreliable, expensive to maintain and a parts are a “nightmare” to source, then the Citroën C3 could be the interesting vehicle for you. We thoroughly enjoyed driving it and every time I walked up to it, it came as a breath of fresh air. It also attracts so much attention on the road compared to a VW Polo, because it’s just a little bit different. Truth be told, it’s quite unique, and if you’re a fan of standing out from the crowd, Air Bumps and all, then this little French hatch could be just the ticket..
MODEL RANGE & PRICING
C3 1.2 Pure Tech Feel 60kW 5MT MY21 R 269 900.00
C3 1.2 Pure Tech Shine 81kW S&S EAT6 MY21 R 324 900.00
Offered across the entire Citroën passenger car range and covers:
5 – Year / 100 000 km Warranty
2. Manufacturer’s Service Plan*
3 Years / 60 000km Service
3. Peace of Mind:
Courtesy Car, Citroën Parts Basket, Complimentary Vehicle health check.
Microdot – Quick and easy Identification in the event of theft