What is it?
Citroën has altered the C3 range no fewer than three times in the past 18 months.
First as it facelifted the small hatchback, Touch, Feel and Flair trims becoming the equally saccharine Live, Sense and Shine; then as it added the bare-bones C-Series; and again as Shine became Saint James – so named for a fashion house, not because it’s to be martyred.
Or is it? It seems even superminis are now under existential threat from crossovers. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why Citroën actually cut the C3’s price at facelift time.
You can buy a Citroen C3 for just £14,000; but at the other end of the spectrum is the more potent, top-spec Shine Plus at £21,000 (£1260 of which is due to the automatic gearbox) and tested here.
Stellantis’s oft-vaunted Puretech 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine makes 82bhp or 109bhp in the C3; and from sampling the latter version, we’d say you definitely want the extra unless you rarely leave town.
What’s it like?
It is indeed a nice engine, offering good punch, flexibility and frugality and even a mean little growl.
However, it’s let down somewhat by the EAT6 ’box, whose shifts can make the C3 rock like a boat, due to its soft springing. Unfortunately, the vague manual isn’t really a remedy.
That suspension does have an upside, however, affording the C3 a spongy ride, which on the motorway creates the dissonant feeling that you’re driving something bigger. Certainly it has no problem cruising in a very relaxed fashion, which can’t be said of sportier superminis, even if it’s not totally immune to pothole-induced shuddering.
It’s a shame that Citroën’s Advanced Comfort seats, while also much spongier than those you will find in rival cars, aren’t more supportive at their sides, because you often find yourself tensing to keep upright as the C3 rolls its way through turns.
There’s plenty of space up here, even if you’re tall. Indeed, you could even say that it has an airy feel. The practicality of the rear is less impressive, though, particularly compared with the new Skoda Fabia and its siblings.