It might sound obvious, but there have been a couple of vehicles in the past with technology that automatically switches the car’s engine off when it stops, but never has one started with so little fuss as the C3.
Essentially if the C3 comes to a stop, push the brake pedal and the engine cuts out and goes into a standby mode. This will happen with the brake is activated at 4mph or less.
Release the brake, the 90bhp 1.4 16v engine starts. Press the accelerator and the clutch closes and off you go. It’s nursery school simple and start-up is very quiet, quick and vibration-free.
A reversible alternator does the job of starter motor allowing you to make clean getaways, and is controlled by an electronic unit which provides the link between alternator and the engine. Using this system means that the engine fires up in 400 milliseconds rather than twice the time with a conventional starter motor.
Although manual and diesel versions will eventually be offered, at the moment, to make it idiot-proof the electronic clutch is allied to the – still choppy – SensoDrive semi-automatic gearbox. The system can be fully deactivated by pressing a button on the fascia.
Citroen has great plans for this technology, claiming that cutting out unnecessary idling of the engine in queues and at lights will save up to 10% fuel and greenhouse gas emissions in city driving.
Over the combined cycle, Citroen claims savings of about 6%.
That also means a reduction in CO2. The ‘normal’ 1.4i SensoDrive emits 143g/km of CO2, while the Stop & Start is rated at 135g/km. It might not be much, but it’s a start. In urban driving, the firm claims it could cut CO2 by as much as 18g/km.
Stop & Start will eventually be offered on other models, diesel and petrol, manual and auto over the next few years, with sales anticipated to reach 50,000 units across Europe by the end of 2006, which seems an optimistic figure, but one the firm reckons it can easily reach. To start with, only 2,000 examples of the C3 Stop & Start will be offered.
Prices haven’t been announced yet but Citroen is keen to get the market moving, and won’t be asking a premium over the equivalent ‘standard’ model.
The firm is also pondering whether to lobby for exemption from the London congestion charging scheme, claiming its fuel saving credentials in the predominantly stationary capital city traffic would be right up Ken Livingstone’s green street.
Model: C3 Stop & Start
Engine (cc): 1,360
Max power (bhp/rpm): 90/5,250
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 98/3,250
Max speed (mph): 112
0-62mph (sec): 13.0
Comb fuel consumption (mpg): 49.5
CO2 emissions (g/km): 135
On sale: December 2003
Prices (OTR): TBA