Citroen C3 HDi: Quick test

By: Gordan Lomas. SMH.

There are the odd examples of why hybrids are under the pump in certain quarters.

Resale and battery issues aside, there has always been much conjecture about the virtues, environmental or otherwise about petrol/electric hybrids, particularly as there are some small diesel cars around these days that weaken the case for buying a hybrid for reasons of fuel economy.

Prime case is Citroen’s C3 HDi. There is now a nifty 1.6-litre diesel sitting pretty in the nose of the cute C3 — and it delivers quite a bit of punch once the revs rise beyond 2000rpm.

It is armed with 66kW of power and a significant 215Nm of torque. Around town it is quite tractable, as more torque at lower revs means fewer gear changes in the cut-and-thrust of the peak-hour commute.

On a 700km test run trudging to and from the Gold Coast into Brisbane’s CBD, the little French hatch was sipping a little over 4.6 litres per 100km (factory claim is 4.4 litres per 100km on a combined run, so we weren’t far off). It means you can stretch your travel a long, long way on one 47-litre tank.

As with the petrol versions, the diesel has a long list of equipment starting with the full package of front airbags as well as lateral airbags for the front occupants.

There are digital read-outs for the speedo and odometer and trip computer but in contrast there is an analogue strip-style rev counter. There is some degree of fuss with the trip controls. Typically the French like these incorporated into the steering wheel-mounted stalks and there remains a degree of guesswork in the location of volume controls for the stereo system, which are at the rear of the right-hand windscreen wiper stalk.

Apart from fiddly ergonomics the interior is a fashionable place, and funky and light.

There is good comfort from the front seats and a large glasshouse offering superb all-round vision. This is worth a look if you are interested in French flair mixed with some substance and a broad, user-friendly appeal as a city commuter. It also has a good options list that includes five-stack CD and leather.

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