How the magical can become commonplace - Even small cars can cram in a lot nowadays, as Richard Drew found out

January 30 2017

WHAT is luxury for one generation is considered standard by the next.


WHAT is luxury for one generation is considered standard by the next.

Take the average British house.  In the fifties, families kept warm with one coal fire and a lot of clothes; bathroom arrangements were often to be found at the bottom of the garden.  Now it’s all central heating, log burners and two ensuites in your semi.

As with houses, so it is with cars.  Those of us with the odd grey hair will remember owning cars that you were just grateful to get started.  It was the sole domain of those with big pockets to enjoy the luxuries of the added extras.  Now it seems most cars can provide the wow factor.

Take the new Citroen C3.  Having driven the Flair edition for a few days it’s hard to believe this is a of ‘super mini’.  Keyless entry and ignition is just the start of it.  It has a well thought out touch screen system with a clear sat nav, DAB radio and hands free phone controls - three things that were certainly deemed a luxury until a few years ago.

There’s a lot packed into a small body to help the driver.  In reverse there’s not only parking sensors, but a camera as well.  At the other end of the car there’s Citroen’s ‘Connected Cam’  a dash cam that’s tucked away behind the mirror and records what is happening on the road; very useful should you be victim to a ‘crash for cash’ cowboy (a modern trend that’s not so welcome).

The better equipped models can offer lane departure warning systems, blind spot monitors, hill assist and of course the connectivity to your smart phone that modern day life demands.

Putting the tech to one side, the car is a pretty good drive as well.  A smooth ride is also a quiet one, unless you put your foot down, whereupon the 1200cc PureTech petrol engine sounds pleasantly throaty.  

It looks good for a small car too.  Citroen offer 36 colour combinations, not always a good thing for a procrastinator like me.  Outside it looks beefy and full of intent, helped by the intricate wheels.

The interior styling is, well, stylish, from the flashes of colour on the dash that mirror the exterior to the luggage style door handles.  It’s spacious enough, with drivers over 6 feet tall still able to stretch out.  The passenger behind them won’t though.

There are a few small niggles; the stop start engine system didn’t seem to want to engage for me, and the keyless ignition took a couple of goes to master.  

But these are small matters.  If you are busy doing school runs, trips to the vets and generally keeping the world spinning, this is an excellent contender.  It may not offer much that isn’t offered elsewhere, but it packages it together well and at a good price.  Citroen are very proud of their motoring heritage, but the new C3 is another reminder that they are focused very much on the future.