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Citroen C3, Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio and VW Polo in the comparison test

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Citroen C3, Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, VW Polo in comparison test
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The last meeting with the now old Citroën C3 wasn't long ago. In early summer it took place under the most unfavorable conditions possible - at Bologna Airport. I was in a hurry, the C 3 a pretty scrubbed rental car with 60 hp. We went down the Autostrada Adriatica to Rimini Nord at noon, back in the evening, and it was great. The C3, a little rickety, but nippy, with a euphoric engine, was not an outstanding car - it never wanted to be - but it was okay with itself: a happy, carefree, little car.

The Citroën C3 is not a space miracle

So now the new C3, and it wants to be the opposite of a carefree little car - a Polo . Having grown by a good eight centimeters, it now extends to the usual four-meter size of current small cars. The meager 0.6 centimeter extra wheelbase already suggests that hardly anything of the increase in length arrives in the solidly finished interior. So it was done with the suitability as a full-fledged family car so proudly proclaimed by Citroën - despite a comparatively generous 300 liters trunk volume. If adults have meandered through narrow rear doors to the back seat with short seat cushions and steep backrest, their knees keep their knees in close contact with the front seat backrest. The domed roof shape also limits the feeling of space.

The Zenith windshield in the C3 is expensive and useless

At the front, the Zenith windshield expands into the sky. It extends up to the level of the B-pillar in the roof and gives the C3 the unique selling point that Citroënists have longed for. Unseen, one might think of it as an expensive and rather useless extra at 400 euros - which is because it is expensive and useless in itself - but even principle pragmatists have to admit that it is a show, through the snow-covered treetops or at night to admire the stars above.

On all C3s, the dashboard, which is bulged towards the front on the passenger side, improves the space available. Though times have passed inwhich Citroën ergonomists found the optimal position for the radio, for example, between the front seats, it is still surprising how conventional the cockpits look today. They even took the digital speedometer with the rev counter swinging over it from the C3. Yes, it used to always be a deduction, now it collects points for the simple operation, except for the optional navigation system, which is intuitive.

In terms of driving safety, the C3 is on par with the competition

He also succeeds in driving safety, which is on a par with the competition. Only the strongly varying power assistance of the steering is irritating - very smoothly in the city, it reacts disproportionately difficult at higher speeds. But the title of driving dynamics acrobat means less to a Citroën than that of comfort expert. It easily cushions small bumps, which can only be achieved satisfactorily on long waves and on the motorway.

There, the high level of noise reduces driving comfort. Like its three rivals, the C3 has a precise, but too short-geared five-speed gearbox, which helps the four-cylinder a little over its lack of torque. The engine propels the C3 forward spiritedly, but turns at a recommended speed of 4,000 revs, which is annoying in the long run despite good running culture.

Clio with comfort deficit and extra torque

The Renault Clio has a slightly larger comfort deficit. His ancestor, the first Renault 5 , would grieve right to the tips of his gummy torsion bar suspension if he knew how the Clio bolted over potholes today. The unnecessarily hard set-up enables agile handling with a high level of driving safety, but it spoils long-distance comfort. Unlike its rivals, Renault does not use a 1.4-liter naturally aspirated engine, but a 1.2-liter turbo. The extra torque, which gives the Clio, which is too short, the best elasticity, has a more decisive effect than the slight extra power. Turbo boost without additional consumption: As with the others, consumption levels off at just under eight liters /100 km - not exactly economical.

During the facelift in May 2009, the Clio grew by almost five centimeters. You are stuck in the new nose, nothing has changed in terms of space. Four passengers can be accommodated neatly, and even adults can travel in the rear with enough headroom. A merit of the boxy roof shape, which also serves for clarity. It is difficult to see through the operation of the well-made and richly equipped Clio, which as a Luxe even comes with navigation. But the TomTom system, which can only be programmed by remote control, lacks operating logicand many other functions - such as cruise control - in a sensible position. In addition to the poor suspension comfort, that is the second big weakness of the Renault.

The Ford Fiesta takes the top spot in driving characteristics

A few small ones The Fiesta (the Ford Fiesta in the individual test) has deficits. As with the others, the trunk with a high loading sill and a small tailgate opening is not very variable, as is the all-round view, which is impressive for a small car.

Flat A- and wide C-pillars limit the feeling of space, but accommodates four adults the Fiesta properly. Comfortable with comfortable seats and assiduous suspension. It has no negative impact on agile handling - supported in a friendly manner by the precise, feedback-sensitive steering. With carefree driving safety and high dynamics, the Ford wags itself to a top position in driving characteristics.

In terms of drive, it remains well behind C3 ( the Citroen C3 in the individual test ) and Clio back, the engine lacks pulling power. The transmission, which is also very short, changes little of the weak torque, but drives the speed level on the highway into a boom.

The VW Polo petrol engine is not recommended

Something similar applies to the VW - Drive to, which, subjectively at high speed, is less obtrusive than the Ford and achieves slightly better elasticity values ​​despite eleven hp less power. Still, they lag behind C3 and Clio - especially the weak pulling power bothers. The smooth and precise five-speed gearbox in the Polo has to be used frequently. Until it is replaced by an equally powerful version of the turbocharged 1.2-liter TSI in 2011 at the latest, the 1.4-liter naturally aspirated cleaner will have the dubious honor of being the least recommendable Polo gasoline engine.

In the overall modest motorized quartet, the VW can compensate for its drive weakness with other strengths. Now comes the big polo craze again ( the VW Polo in the individual test )? Let's put it this way: excellent workmanship, pronounced handiness, high functionality, the best brakes, good space, only slightly cramped on the comfortable rear seat for adults, seats suitable for long distances, easy operation, precise steering,plus the most assiduous suspension and the cheapest maintenance costs.

On the other hand, the C3 does not do. Having become significantly more solid and mature, he takes second place. For all those who mourn the carefree old C3, there is some consolation: You still have the car rental company in Bologna.


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