Our Down-under correspondent has been out with a French
chick, or that’s what I thought at first glance. However, it turned out to be
the Citroen C3 1.4 litre that sells for around 1.3 million baht in this country.
Here is John’s opinion on this imported French chick!
“The Citroen C3 is the first five-door hatchback the French
company has offered in Australia since it first came here 80 years ago. It is
snazzily styled - genuine French chic - very well equipped and extremely
“The C3’s styling both inside and out was admired by all
- modern yet functional, practical because of its rounded high roofline, and
dead easy to manoeuvre because of its tight dimensions, higher than normal
seating position and large glass areas.
“Standard equipment includes remote locking, power front
windows with fast up and down, air conditioning, four airbags, radio station and
volume adjustment from the wiper control arm, digital speedo, fuel and
temperature gauges and a host of storage spaces. There are automatic wipers, a
two level glove-box, funky alloy-look fascia air vents and individual front
centre armrests for the passenger and driver.
“The standard Citroen C3 SX costs AUD 19,990 with cloth
upholstery (that is about a little over 500,000 baht, if you want to have a
little cry in the corner). For an extra AUD 1000 the C3 Exclusive has velour
plus ABS brakes and front fog lights. I’d go the extra grand. Automatic is
available only for the C3 Exclusive. It adds AUD 2000.
- I use the word generously - is a no more than adequate 57 kW from a 1.4 litre
four cylinder engine which develops just 115 Nm of torque. Thankfully, the
five-speed manual gearbox is a sweet shifter because it needs lots of use on any
“Surprisingly, an afternoon in an automatic C3 dispelled
notions that it would further stifle progress. Indeed the excellent auto proved
adept at extracting the most from the little engine’s lungs, thus demanding a
rather less frantic performance from the driver.
“The C3’s leisurely progress - it takes 14.2 seconds to
reach 100 kph - is compensated for by outstanding fuel economy. The highway
figure is quoted as 5 litres per 100 km. We did not do that well, but the figure
for a week of widely varied motoring was near-as-dammit 50 mpg in the more
easily understood imperial measurement - say, around 6l/100 km.
“Likes were many, balanced by some disappointments. The
cutesy digital fuel gauge gives an inadequate indication of the state of play
nearing empty, but I liked the clarity and easy reading of the large digital
speedo. The forward folding rear seats are useful, but leave a far from flat
floor. There is a high lip to lift loads over. My lasting questions relate to
overall quality. There were some unexpected noises-off. Some items felt a little
flimsy which is rare these days. This otherwise endearing little Eurocar falls
short of the solid feel of such less charismatic Eastern competitors as the
Hyundai Getz, Mazda2 and Honda Jazz. Its main European competitors are French
too - the delightful Peugeot 206 and Renault’s fun Clio (see my piece on the
Clio V6 next week - Dr. Iain).
“The C3’s ride is fine, but not traditional ‘Citroen-superieur’.
While there is a mite more road noise than usual the ride is commendably
comfortable. Body roll is well contained but it is sufficient to encourage an
early easing of the accelerator in twisty terrain.
“The C3 has bags of practical appeal and genuine style. It
will never look or feel boring, but you’d best check that the performance is
OK for your needs. Its minimal thirst is a major plus. Five door access adds to
Thank you John, for the Thailand situation, the (relative)
lack of power would not be such a problem. After all, sitting in Bangkok or
Chiang Mai traffic jams, the most important performance item is the
Having just flown to and from the UK and having stopped at
Bahrain both ways, I can tell you the airport is lovely. Those who have ventured
outside tell me that the Grand Prix track is coming along well too, with over
42,000 cubic metres of concrete having been poured already.
Although the FIA has yet to reveal the schedule for the 2004
season it’s understood that the organisers of the Bahrain GP are looking at an
April date. Originally it was thought that the Bahrain event would be slotted in
at the end of the season - most likely in October - but it was then realised
that this would involve a clash with Ramadan in subsequent years.
The deadline for completion of work at the track is March 7
and according to the latest report everything is on schedule with 31% of the
work complete. It’s understood that almost two thousand men are working around
the clock to ensure that the facility is completed on time, and the mild summer
has helped progress.
“So far we have been very lucky,” resident engineer
Rizwan Mumtaz told the Gulf Daily News. “There were only one or two bad days
of humidity and it has definitely helped in construction work.”
The most crucial time is the period from September to
November since that is when the various specialists in different department will
need to work together as the final phase of the construction begins. This is
when the track surface will be laid and the steel structures designed to support
the grandstand roofing will be erected.
Somehow the three weeks between completion of the circuit and
a Grand prix in April sounds too short for me, and I doubt if Bernie Ecclestone
and the FIA will approve. More later! However, it is interesting to note that
April is the date for the San Marino GP. What bets that it gets forgotten next
year? After all, they have threatened they are scrapping the Canadian GP!