Last Chance To Buy: Citroen C3

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Indy Lifestyle Online

When is it going?

The C3 hasn't gone, but it has been made over; new lights and bumpers, revised suspension and a stiffer body, plus new inside door trims and dash. There is even a new engine, a 1.6 turbodiesel. So is the old model still attractive?

What's good about it?

The C3 is cheap, because Citroën has a wide range of deals. That means these small hatches are good value. There is plenty to like about it, and many will like the raised people-carrier driving position.

There is plenty of room up front, with a usefully adjustable steering wheel and driving seat. The specification levels have always been good, and most will want the SX, which has air conditioning and a CD player, while the Exclusive throws in virtually everything. The C3 is a lively drive and most of the engines are pretty good, especially the 1.4 turbodiesel. The C3 could have been the new 2CV, but Citroën rightly realise that today's car-buyer won't be satisfied with the basics. Having said that...

What's bad about it?

The C3 seems a tad cheap. Manufacturers pull out all the stops on quality these days, but the C3 feels a bit flimsy. The ride is choppy, explaining why the new model has revised suspension. It could also do with being a bit roomier in the back. The lack of legroom and small boot mean that the C3 is not as practical as it seems. There's a high load sill and the rear seats fold and split, but the bases are fixed so you don't get a flat bay. The XTR's roof rails and 4x4 design cues would be forgivable if it had some off-road ability, but just seem a bit soppy. If the C3 is used mainly for two-body transport, the low running costs should convince you that it isn't half bad.

How much?

Citroën have led the way with a bunch of offers that knock thousands off the retail price. Go to www.citroen.co.uk (bypass all that Happy Days nonsense) to find yourself a great deal. Buy before the end of January and get a 1.1L for £6,995, saving £2,200. There are some 0 per cent finance deals, so with a 35 per cent deposit you get three years to pay. Some brokers can do even better; a 1.4Hdi Desire on the website at £9,795 was beaten by Carfile (01335 360 763), which offered the model at £8,958, including the 0 per cent finance option.

Any snags?

There have been several niggling recalls since 2002, mostly to do with build-quality issues; leaks, loose bolts and air bags that don't fully deploy. In service, the faults have been equally niggly - electrical failures, central locking and alarms.

Fact file

Launched: 2002

Engines: 1.1, 1.4, 1.4 Hdi, 1.6

Performance: 1.4; top speed 105 mph, 0-60mph 12.2 seconds

Economy: 47.9mpg

NCAP: Four stars

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