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Citroen C3 1.6 HDi VTR

Citroen

Review

THE C3 supermini has sold more than one million models in Europe, and now it has a new top-spec diesel model, the 1.6 HDi in sporty VTR trim.

Generating 110bhp and 181lb-ft of torque, the new engine complements a slight front-end facelift, new rear lights and a redesigned interior. There have also been changes under the skin as well, with tweaks to the suspension and steering settings to refine the handling.

For the VTR, these settings have been firmed up to offer a more sporty feel. And as befits its status at the top of the C3 line-up, the VTR gets 16-inch alloy wheels, a black grille and door mirrors and ESP stability control as standard.

Inside, there’s a restyled dashboard featuring a new fully-digital instrument display. The centre console also gets splashes of metal-look trim around the air vents and gear lever to brighten things up.

With a top speed of 118mph and 0-62mph in 10 seconds, the new range-topping C3 is certainly brisk, and it will return claimed combined fuel economy of 63mpg. CO2 emissions are 120g/km, putting it in the lowest 15% benefit-in-kind tax band for 2005. This model also comes with a diesel particulate filter to clean up emissions and an overboost facility which offers an additional 15lb-ft of torque under hard acceleration – both firsts on a Citroen supermini.

The addition of the 110bhp engine to the range is the result of customer demand, as Citroen says, there is a growing number of people who want a 100bhp-plus diesel supermini.

At £13,295 the VTR is the most expensive C3, and this price puts it into serious competition with other cars in the Citroen line-up. For instance, a larger C4 VTR Coupe with the slightly less powerful 92bhp 1.6 HDi engine costs just £500 more. You pay your money and take your choice, but the C4 Coupe is not only a bigger car, but it also has far more road presence.

Behind the wheel

Approaching the new VTR, you would be hard-pressed to notice the facelifted exterior unless you know what to look for. It’s unmistakeably still a C3, with its bubbly, slightly fussy looks.

The redesigned interior is pleasant to behold and reminiscent of the C4. The quality of plastics is still not brilliant, feeling hard and brittle, but the seats are extremely comfortable and supportive.

The new digital dash is very easy to see and read, but as a driver lofting around the six foot mark, I found the rev counter was placed in such a position that it was obscured by the steering wheel.

Steering at low speeds is light, making tight manoeuvres around town a breeze, but this unfortunately means that at higher speeds, on winding country roads, the communication from the wheels is a little woolly.

The impressive torque that diesel engines can generate low down in the range is in full effect under acceleration, with 60mph flashing up on the new digital speedo in less than 10 seconds. But the downside to oil-burners – noise – is evident even with all the windows up, especially when gaining speed.

The VTR has a new ‘overboost’ that can deliver an extra 15lb-ft of torque under hard acceleration, but I only read about this after the road test, and didn’t notice any difference when nipping around traffic on the A roads.

Driving verdict

WITH a fresh face, spruced up interior and a new powerplant, there’s plenty of life in the C3 yet. It’s not exciting by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s practical and thanks to the extra power offers that little bit more kick than before. However, the VTR is a bit pricey.

Fact file

Model: C3 1.6 HDi VTR
Power (bhp/rpm): 110/4,000
Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 181/1,750
Max speed (mph): 118
Comb economy (mpg): 63
CO2 emissions (g/km): 120
Price (OTR): £13,295

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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