Early-2017 NZ release cited for C3

The next-generation Citroen C3, unveiled internationally this week and set for release here next May, will be a key driver for the brand’s bid for greater market recognition.

AN enhanced youth vibe that has been core to the development of Citroen’s next-generation C3 hatch will transfer to marketing for the crucial hatch when it lands here next May.

Citroen New Zealand boss Simon Rose says the new five-door model is eagerly awaited and he senses a good reception awaits.

In typical Citroen style, C3 goes big on the avante garde. That it delivers latest PSA engines is almost a sidenote, as it primarily gets funkier on the styling and technology front.

Adopting a cool signature from the C4 Cactus – Airbumps, a plastic pod strip along the doors – and uplifting an in-car camera that, while primarily there as a safety feature, can also be used to make films to uplift to social media are key talk-about attributes.

“We think the conquest market potential will be significant given the new C3 design, certainly to talk to a new younger demographic,” he told MotoringNetwork.

Rose says the car exudes a positive vibe that is very Citroen in design and true to the brand’s Creative Technology promise.

“Initial impressions are (it) gives the car a bold, fun new market appeal so it could well be a key model for Citroen to lift sales in the light segment in 2017.

“Importantly, it’s a significant shift and change in direction from the current C3 design.”

His brand is likely to announce more information specific to the New Zealand model lineup within the next few days.

“But it’s likely to be only one or possibly two variants from launch.”

Citroen had a slow quarter one sales start but has got up to traction in the last three months, a period of range rationalisation. On the way out are Citroen’s two people-carriers, the C4 Picasso and Grand C4 Picasso.

These will make way for “future models”, Rose says.

Though geographically the farthest flung of Citroen’s right-hand-drive markets, New Zealand nonetheless appears to be one of the first export venues for the car. If the May release is achieved, we’ll be achieving C3 just two months after it introduces in the primary right-hook arena, the United Kingdom.

The C3 is the first mainstream model launched since the DS sub-brand became a manufacturer in its own right.

The exterior styling builds on family traits; the ultra-slim daytime running lights and chunky headlights, with a set of foglights mounted further down the bumper, have also been Picasso and Cactus signatures. The LED rear lights also emulate those on the C4 Cactus.

The flanks are relatively flat, but appear not to due to those Airbumps, a textured protective plastic finish that as well as adding a unique styling impact also have a practical element, serving as protection from slight impacts – the dreaded supermarket door smack being an obvious example.

The cabin fascia has relatively few buttons, with most functions controlled through a seven-inch touch-screen that’s mounted high up in the centre of the dashboard, a design feature already trialled by the C4 Cactus.

The infotainment system will support Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink at launch, though Android Auto functionality might well be achieved by the time the car hits this country.

Also lifted from C4 Cactus: Airbump-influenced ‘indents’ on the door inlays and door handles that are straps designed to replicate the handles on expensive luggage.

Personalisation is a huge focus. There’s a wide palette of colours, including contrasting roof hues, and, on the inside, Citroen has four ‘moods’ shade and texture choices. Metropolitan Grey brings softer shades and textures on the seats and dashboard trim, while Urban Red incorporates mixes dark and bright colours, including red stitching, for what Citroen calls a ‘dynamic feel’. The most expensive cabin mood will be Hype Colorado, which has softer, more upmarket materials, special upholstery and a two-tone leather steering wheel.

There’s a big technology leap with ConnectedCam, a forward-facing two-megapixel, GPS-enabled camera mounted in the rear-view mirror. It’s primarily designed to record any traffic incidents or accidents, since it activates in an impact and stores the preceding 30 seconds and following 60 seconds.

However, the driver can also click a button to safely take exterior photos or videos of the view through the windscreen and then share this content through social networks.

PSA’s PureTech petrol motors and BlueHDi diesels site under the bonnet. The PureTech options will be 1.2-litre three-cylinder engines, producing 50kW, 60kW and 81kW, while the diesels will be 1.6-litre units with either 55kW or 74kW.

Stop-start will be standard across the range and while it kicks off in Europe purely in manual, a six-speed automatic is due to be on stream by February.

The model forms the basis of next year’s Citroen World Rally Car and there is growing conjecture that a hot hatch tie-in is under development.

Citroen has a modest sales presence here and was rocked recently when its franchise in the Manawatu closed. However, the dealership strength has improved elsewhere, with a new operation opening in the Waikato today.