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by Tim Beissmann

Citroën has released the full details of the new, sophisticated and low CO2-emitting C3 around six weeks ahead of its European launch – and two things have got everyone talking.

The first is “Visiodrive”, a word that Citroën has invented that can be used in almost all contexts: ‘Introducing the new C3 Visiodrive’, ‘Let’s take the new C3 out for a Visiodrive’, ‘The new C3 exudes Visiodrive’, ‘The new C3 will Visiodrive you crazy’, and so on.

The second is that windscreen.

It’s been common knowledge for a while now that Salvador Dali’s great-grandson is the glass blower at the Citroën factory and that he doesn’t mind experimenting a little bit, as we have seen with the concave rear-screened C5 and C6.

Now the C3 has a 1.35m “panoramic zenith windscreen” which the French company claims is 36 percent bigger than a normal 5-door small car and increases the driver’s angle of view by 300 percent (from 28 to 108 degrees) – and perhaps his/her risk of sunburn by a similar amount.

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To combat this, the top 25cm of the windscreen is progressively tinted and a sunblind with visors can be pulled forward to give the protection of a standard vehicle.

Slimmer A-pillars further improve visibility and add to the sense of interior spaciousness, which is increased by 3cm in rear-passenger legroom without cramping the class-leading 300-litre boot.

In Europe the new C3 will be offered in three core trim levels – VT, VTR+ and Exclusive – while the special edition Airdream+ will be available from launch to make economy and emissions figures look more impressive.

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The Airdream+ is powered by 67kW 1.6-litre HDi and a six-speed manual gearbox and burns 3.80 L/100km and emits 99g/km CO2 – making it the first production Citroën below 100g/km.

Two other diesels – a 52kW 1.4 and an 82kW 1.6 – and four petrols – ranging from 1.1 to 1.6-litres, 45 to 89kW, 5.80 to 6.91 L/100km and 134 to 158g/km – round out the engine options.

A five-speed manual is standard with the option of a four-speed auto in the 1.6 VTi petrol variant.

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From 2011 two new diesels, 3-cylinder petrol engines and a start-stop system promise to drop emissions to between 90 and 100g/km.

Gear Efficiency Indicator – which suggests the optimum moment to change gear – heads a long options list for most models which includes stability control (disappointingly only optional on the Exclusive), up to six airbags, cruise control, and Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

Citroën Australia says it will announce pricing and specifications of the new C3 when it debuts in Australia in mid-2010.




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