The city is where we’re seen. So we want a car that dresses us well, and has some sense of place. This little Citroen is right for town. It’s modern – modish, even, in its details – but because of its simplicity and balanced proportions, it’s probably timeless too.
You don’t want to be a fashion victim in a clone of everyone else’s outfit. So go ahead and personalise the heck out of the C3, picking body and roof colours, swapping out the wheels, selecting or deleting Airbumps. Inside, the ranges of fabrics and dash covers consciously reject the usual tropes of car trim. No racing stripes on the upholstery, or drilled pedals, or mock carbon-fibre garnishes. No “cockpit”- shaped dash or “bucket seats” either. It has a domestic vibe, the better to calm you against urban stress.
The Airbumps and arches are more than a style thing, rather a no-brainer for protection against the casual biffabout nature of other people’s urban parking. To aid your own, a reversing camera is on the spec, plus the designers were thoughtful enough to keep it under 4m long. If anyone does do something idiotic ahead of you as you drive, the built-in dashcam keeps the evidence. In happier times, it can send its happy snaps via a dedicated app to friends’ social feeds.
It’s a fabulous car for jinking around city roads. The steering is light but direct, the gearshift light too, if, sadly, a bit of a flap. The supple springs and dampers swallow potholes and pineapple-skinned tarmac with quite some adroitness, and the undercarriage stays acoustically quiet too. In traffic gaps you can exploit the perky little 1.2-litre turbo engine, its jovial triple-harmonics adding to the mix.
That’s a very light engine, so the C3 doesn’t blow its nose after speed bumps. Neither is it a wide car, so it’s up for a life of rat-run chicanery through width restrictors and pirouetting up and down multistorey spiral ramps.
It would be fair to say that these are not the driving environments in which many of our stories are set. But for many of us, they are the everyday reality. The C3 makes them better.