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Citroen C3 Pluriel 1.4 HDi/C3 XTR

Citroen

Review

ONLY a few years ago, driving a convertible was just a pipe dream for many user-choosers.

But as more manufacturers jump on the convertible bandwagon, prices for an open-top driving experience are falling.

Fleets can now get their hands on a range of models at little over the £10,000 mark and the fuel-thirsty engines usually associated with ragtops are being replaced by more economical versions.

Citroen scored an industry first this month by launching its C3 Pluriel 1.4 HDi, the UK's first diesel supermini convertible offering user-choosers an affordable price tag, economical diesel powerplant and a funky alternative to traditional offerings.

The new 70bhp Pluriel has a 1.4 HDi common rail diesel engine which achieves 63mpg on the combined cycle backed by the SensoDrive five-speed semi-automatic transmission system.

With a price tag of £12,795 on the road, the Pluriel is an economical but fun run-around.

For a 22% taxpayer, the benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax damage is only £41.81 a month, thanks to an impressive CO2 emissions figure of 120g/km.

But if it is power and not emissions that's important, be warned that the 1.4-litre engine is a little under strength. It constantly feels as though it needs more power and I had to push the revs right up to the red line before changing up a gear.

A Citroen spokesman pointed out that the Pluriel was not meant to be overtly sporty but erred more on the side of key pricing and fuel economy. And there is a petrol version available if fleets want more oomph.

What the diesel Pluriel lacks in power, it certainly makes up for in style, originality and fun.

It offers a nimble drive with light steering and is ideal for city driving, although once up to 70 mph it still handles comfortably.

It has a certain cuteness, which may not appeal to everyone, but the versatility of the Pluriel certainly should.

It reminds me of childhood and my brother's robotic Transformer toys, which could turn into several different forms of vehicle.

The Pluriel is the modern day version, boasting five different forms ranging from hard top to convertible to pick-up truck.

It starts as a hatchback with all parts of the vehicle intact. By lowering all windows and rolling the sunroof back the length of the car, you have what Citroen calls the 'Panoramic' version.

For open-top driving, the roof and the back windscreen retract into the boot and for a full cabriolet version, the roof bars can be removed.

Finally the tailgate can be opened with the back seats folded forwards to create the pick-up. It's not short on space either and with two proper seats in the rear, there is ample boot space.

MINI is launching a convertible version in July but it will have only half the boot space of the Pluriel.

Standard equipment on the Pluriel includes variable power assisted steering, remote control central locking with deadlocks, foglamps and electric windows at the front and rear.

There is also a height adjustable driver's seat and steering wheel and RDS stereo radio/CD player.

For fleets wanting more, optional extras include air conditioning, five-disc CD changer, metallic paint, 16-inch alloy wheels, tonneau cover and 'spider' pack which includes roof arch stand and storage bags and a rain cover.

The C3 Pluriel has also been named one of Europe's safest superminis in the Euro NCAP crash tests, gaining four stars out of a possible five for front and side impacts.

Standard safety equipment includes four airbags, ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency braking assistance.

Driving verdict

The Pluriel is quirky, cute and extremely versatile. It will appeal to younger drivers wanting a fun convertible to nip around in at an affordable price. FACT FILE

Model: Citroen C3 Pluriel 1.4 Hdi
Engine (cc): 1,398
Max power (bhp/rpm): 70/4,000
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 110/1,750
Max speed (mph): 98
Fuel consumption: 62.8mpg
C02 emissions (g/km): 120
On sale: now
Price (otr): £12,795

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  • CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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