By Stuart Johnston
The facelifted Citroen C3 Shine is the latest model to be launched here under the new Stellantis Group’s model offensive this year that now brings its total to five new models in 2021, with a lot more new cars on the way. The revised Citroen follows the introductions of the Peugeot 2008, Opel Corsa, Opel Crossland and the Peugeot 3008, and there are another eight launches still scheduled from the likes of Stellantis brands Fiat, Jeep, Peugeot and Opel before close of play in December.
Stellantis is now one of the world’s top four motoring groups, with first-quarter results in 2021 that see it ranked in first position in Europe with a market share of 26,6 per cent. The group sold over 1,5-million vehicles in the first three months of the year, and it is thus reassuring to learn that Stellantis South Africa is wholly owned by the parent company
At first glance, it may have seemed ambitious for Stellantis to schedule a full-blown national media launch here for the C3 Shine model, which has only cosmetic revisions. But it should be remembered that the C3’s introduction here in early 2020 came after the brand had been withdrawn from the South African market and then somewhat curiously re-introduced. Under the previous PCSA management, Citroen’s future here remained far from certain.
The revisions to the 2021 C3 were in fact first seen on the less-powerful C3 Feel model, which went on sale here in March 2021. The C3 Feel has a 60 kW naturally-aspirated three-cylinder engine, and a manual transmission, as well as less equipment. The Shine 1,2 81 kW model has a turbocharged version of the three-cylinder motor, and is mechanically unchanged from the model which Car tested in early 2020. The Shine is only available in six-speed automatic form.
So what is new on the MY2021 C3 Shine? The most notable change is a newly-designed grille and headlight treatment that sees the headlights incorporated into the grille design via bright metal strips. The grille also features a revised interpretation of the Citroen chevron logo, while the new LED lights are housed in re-shaped recesses in the nose section. The C3 Shine in facelifted form is also notable for the silver-effect surrounds on the fog lights. The entry-level Feel model is offered sans fog lights.
On the flanks, the big difference is the redesigned (so-called) Airbump strips, which now feature just three “bumps” as opposed to the seven protuberances on the previous protective strip. And a silver-effect is added to one of the bumps, while there is an additional silver-effect small stripe on the C-Pillar.
A further change to the facelifted C3 Shine model is that the alloy wheels have been re-specced. The MY2021 Shine now runs 16-inch alloys with a different spoke pattern, whereas the 1,2 Shine we reported on in our April 2020 edition ran 17-inch alloys and lower-profile tyres.
Inside, perhaps the biggest change has been the fitment of new so-called Comfort seats. The new seats feature much thicker outer-layer foam, and Citroen is excited by the way these new seats improve the overall ride quality of the C3.
Talking of ride quality, on my initial foray into the streets of Sandton on the launch drive, I was disappointed with the way the C3 Shine felt over indifferent surfaces. There was noticeable feedback through the steering wheel from the front wheels, and some of the small ripples sent a slight but noticeable deflective shudder through the steering wheel.
Funnily enough, this was the last time on the extensive launch drive that I noticed anything untoward about the suspension and steering feel. The lengthy route included many speed bumps, which the C3 handled well even when traversing these at slightly higher-than-sensible speeds. The ride on good roads was in fact very comfortable. Steering is accurate with nice communication despite electric power-assistance, and stability at higher speeds is very good for a small car with a relatively short wheelbase.
Talking of a short wheelbase, one of the areas where the C3 could do with improvement is in the rear passenger leg and headroom department. But luggage space is very good for a B-segment hatch, at a claimed 300 litres (although Car’s more discerning measurement system noted a capacity of 248 litres, which our test report described as “sizeable” back in April 2020).
As for performance, this little 1,2-litre turbo is full of zest. With three full-sized adults in the car the engine was never short of grunt. Mash the loud pedal to the floorboards and it revs freely to the 6000 r/min redline, and pulls like a train. The six-speed torque-convertor automatic gearbox has ratios perfectly matched to the wide turbo power-band, and it moves away very smartly from rest, yet cruises very quietly in sixth. Kick-down on the automatic ‘box is never intrusive, and the electronically-mapped automatic intuitively chooses the right ratio for the occasion.
As for the rest of the car, I really enjoyed my time with it. From a journalistic point of view,the idea of doing a comprehensive launch for a “mere” facelift has its merits, as it enables you to re-acquaint yourself with a model that has been available for some time (in fact the C3 in current form was first launched in Europe in 2016).
The interior is bright and pleasant. Some of the materials used are of the rather hard-and-shiny plastic variety, but the 7-inch infotainment screen is prominently positioned, if a little fussy to operate regards adjusting items like the ventilation/air-conditioning. Incidentally, as part of the facelift, there are now a total of nine driver-assistance features on the C3 Shine, such as speed limit recognition, and cruise control that also monitors speed limits.
As for those Airbumps, I started to like the idea more and more, because they not only make the C3 Shine stand out from the crowd, but they are also very practical, especially in car parks populated by lumbering SUVs driven by evacuees with scant consideration for anyone or anything other than their own importance.
The C3 Shine is a fun little hatchback, and reasonably priced at R324 900. The price includes a 5-year/100 000 km warranty and a 3-year/60 000 km service plan. The 60 kWFeel model, with similar warranties, sells for R269 900.