FUNKY colour themes and unusual airbumps running along the bottom of the doors allow the new Citroen C3 to stand out from the crowd.

Those features might not be to everyone’s taste but they contribute to a vehicle that’s anything but boring.

Add into the mix some 17-inch alloys, roof-coloured door mirrors and other stylistic flourishes and you’ve got a rather fresh and individualistic machine.

At a glance, the C3 has the appearance of a miniature C4 Cactus, which is probably no bad thing when you consider how the latter has won many admirers.

By scaling down some of the best bits of the C4 Cactus and packaging them into a supermini, Citroen has opened up some successful design language to a wider audience.

Behind the wheel, this 1.6-litre diesel version has the feel of a nicely-powered car - by no means blistering quick but capable of a brisk turn of pace when needed.

The turbocharged four-cylinder unit is also relatively quiet and smooth, with consistent delivery of power through the rev range.

The impression of this being a right-powered car is reaffirmed by official fuel economy figures of 76.3mpg on the combined cycle.

In real world driving conditions - even allowing for some of the Bradford district’s steeper hills and the city’s stop-start traffic, I was achieving something in the region of 50mpg.

The five-speed gearbox is functional and smooth.

The C3 offers great ease-of-use in urban areas, thanks to a compact turning circle, soft springs and lightweight steering.

However, the fact that the ride and handling are set up for comfort means there isn’t a lot of driver engagement.

On the plus side, it means that even the most rutted road surfaces won’t upset those on board.

When compared to its predecessor, the current C3 is now a little longer, wider and lower overall.

The stretched wheelbase has the benefit of creating a roomier cabin with added width and more rear legroom.

And there’s no question that the light, airy and spacious feel to the interior makes for a relaxing experience for the car’s occupants. The seats are comfortable, inviting and offer plenty of adjustment.

The seven-inch touchscreen is a smart and user-friendly piece of kit. A lack of buttons means most functions require several presses of the touchscreen, but it’s a responsive system.

Although the cabin is generally good, the C3 doesn’t quite match class leaders for refinement due to the level of road noise at higher speeds.

This test car came in range-topping Flair trim, which was well equipped for a small hatchback. Equipment includes features such as cruise control, automatic air conditioning, a seven-inch touchscreen, automatic lights and wipers as standard.

This version of the C3 was priced at £17,765 on the road, but that figure rises to £19,710 when you add in options such as the metallic paint (£495), blind spot monitoring (£100), the Citroen Connect Nav 7-inch touchscreen with Citroen Connect box (£500), keyless entry and start (£250), and 17-inch diamond cut Cross’ alloy wheels (£200) and panoramic roof (£400).

Of those options, I found the latter to be especially good as it offered a more light and airy feel to the cabin.

With its design flair offering a degree of urban chic, it’s the looks that could attract people to this otherwise conventional and comfortable five-door hatch.

In the world of Citroen C3s, another interesting recent development is the launch of the new Citroën C3 Aircross, which aims to provide the manufacturer with a contender in the hotly-contested small SUV market. So these are interesting times for Citroen, as its range undergoes a significant overhaul with old models being updated, some models being discontinued and other new ones coming on stream.


Citroen C3 Flair

PRICE: £17,765

ENGINE: 1.6-litre diesel, four cylinder

TRANSMISSION: Five-speed manual

PERFORMANCE: 115mph top speed and 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds

ECONOMY: 95g/km emissions and fuel economy of 76.3mpg combined