Typically when trawling the motorways, you want a big cosseting car to settle down for the journey ahead. Being at the centre of an automotive cocoon sets you up well for mile-munching without the backache and fatigue. Much to my surprise, our C3 long-termer is proving to be an impressive motorway hauler.
With the dreaded, but necessary, lockdowns and restrictions in place, the C3 has only really stretched its legs on the motorway for work trips. You wouldn’t have thought that spending a prolonged period of time at speed in a small B-segment hatchback would be all that pleasant, but the C3 is remarkably comfortable. Beyond its supple suspension, the clever shock absorbing foam that fills its seats further dampens road imperfections. They aren’t great for holding you in place should you decide to drive spiritedly, but their marshmallow-like quality makes them great for long stints behind the wheel. A deployable armrest for the driver adds to the lounge-like experience, but we can’t help wonder why the passenger can’t have one, too?
Some of the Citroën’s equipment helps sooth long trips, too. Standard cruise control takes the strain, but also keeps you safe from accidentally triggering an average speed camera – an ever-present fear on today’s major roads. Apple CarPlay has also been in continuous use, with its access to a familiar interface and my phone’s apps being a big asset. The C3’s native system is fine, but a little bloated with lots of text-based menus. The genius of CarPlay, and its Android counterpart, is that you’re already familiar with how it all works from your smartphone that powers the whole show. Is the future of automotive infotainment in the hands of phone makers? Maybe.
It still irritates me how unrefined this 1.5-litre diesel engine is on a cold start and when initially on the move. It sounds like a bag of spanners, which is a shame because other variants of this unit do a much better job. It’s great in terms of economy and its torquey performance, but the clatter and vibration does spoil things a little. Less of an irritation and more of a disappointment is the overly lazy manual gear lever. It hasn’t given me any trouble, and it is far better in function than its automatic alternative, but its loose feel is akin to a limp handshake.
With the world being such an unpredictable place at this point in time due to Covid, it looks like the next big test for this C3 will be the urban battle zone that is Tesco’s car park.
Date arrived 25th November 2020
Economy (WLTP combined) 55.6-67.0mpg
Economy (On test) 52.2mpg