French cars sell strongly in Australia – to a tiny sector of the overall market. You like quirky; unusual; different? Buy a French car.
Trouble is, not many Aussies do. Those that do have a French car in their garage love ‘em.
So far this year Peugeot and Renault sales are holding up, but there’s little growth to report. The best thing you can say is they’re flat, meaning they haven’t lost much. Wow! Is that a great business case for continuing? In the real world, I think not.
Year to date at the end of April, Renault (the strongest French marque) had sold 3000 vehicles; Peugeot 735 and Citroen, a dismal 111. Total Citroen sales are down 43%.
I remember telling the new PSA distributors that maybe they should revise their model mix, and make Peugeot the ‘car’ company, and just make Citroen the ‘Commercial Vehicle’ company. Trouble is, Citroen’s range of outstanding CVs is also down around 40%.
I have to ask, is it worth continuing with this nonsense? Yes, there are French car aficionados in Australia, but can you sell enough cars to make a profit – in comparison to the setup and maintenance costs for handling the distribution?
Short answer – NO!
Then, as if to completely destroy the realistic, pragmatic decision – along comes Citroen’s new C3. This sub-compact looks a bit like a ‘junior SUV’ with it’s plastic-clad ‘bump’ patches on the flanks, just like the C4 Cactus.
But, Citroen says it's a city car’ and has the credentials to prove it. It’s compact, maneuverable, economical,
cute, chic and in fact, I find it adorable. Specifically, I find it très souhaitable – that's French for, very desirable.
The last C3 I drove was in France back in 2010, and while it easily swallowed us and all our luggage, and
returned 5.5L/100km, the design was pedestrian (at best), and the performance was 'acceptable'.
However, from the minute I slid behind the wheel of this
new version, and absorbed the interior design, my first
thought was – Citroen has re-discovered ‘la differance’!
That’s what I expect when I climb into a Citroen.
I have to admit to being immediately charmed by this car, and I simply LOVE the design of the dash.
The car may be built on the same platform as Peugeot’s 208/308, and use the identical ‘Pure Tech’
turbocharged 1.2L three-cylinder petrol engine, mated to an excellent Aisin six-speed auto – but the car
overwhelms you with the sense that it’s something new and different.
If this was my choice for a city car, I’d have to get happy about shelling out AUD$ 30,000+. It’s nothing like its
Japanese/Korean competitors. It’s attractive, with a great interior ambience, and you are very unlikely
to see more than one on your block. On that basis alone, it’s worth considering.
The handling is tight, imparting a secure feeling as you throw it vigorously into corners, and it returns fuel
economy around 5.5-6.5 L/100km. The torque comes in at low revs, and the Aisin auto calibration is excellent.
All round This is a terrific
small car, with excellent
and completely challenges
the folly of trying to sell
quirky French cars in any
decent volume outside
Whatever, I think it’s gorgeous and wouldn’t say no to one of these chic Citroen’s being my daily driver.