French cutie can�t quite raise the roof
The pretty Citroen C3 is let down by its four-speed automatic transmission.

Now I know a little of how it feels to be a jet fighter pilot - and, strangely enough, it's in a car that's not particularly fast or high-tech.

It's a Citroen C3 and it's got something called a Zenith panoramic windscreen, which means the front of the roof slides back to leave nothing but 1.35m of glass and WA's cloudless sky above my head.

And it left me feeling totally disoriented.

Not as disoriented as my wife when I pulled back the roof - and whacked her on the head with the oversized sun visor she had just pulled down.

After she'd stopped seeing stars, her main complaint was the sun visor had no mirror or light.

These little things matter in a supermini I'd think is aimed mainly at female drivers.

What should impress, though, is the look, which has been tweaked but still retains the same cuddly "bubble" style that characterised the first C3 when it hit European roads in 2002.

I'd driven one about a decade ago when my own car was being serviced and was pleasantly surprised by the smooth ride, and this time I was in the new 1.6-litre Seduction automatic.

But what struck me was how basic the interior was, with no

sat nav (that's on the Exclusive model only) or reversing camera, just a small display for the stereo and trip computer and not even volume-control buttons on the oddly oversized leather steering wheel.

That steering wheel was the only bit of French quirk I could find. The rest is nice textured plastic on the dash and more shiny material around the stereo and basic turn-dial air-con. I was expecting more - this is Citroen after all.

Then there's the actual driving experience. While the ride is smooth when cruising around, the Sequential Auto-Adaptive auto transmission is only four-speed (even manuals are moving to six gears these days) and it was sluggish when asked for more power, especially when turning a corner and going uphill.

So was I seduced by the C3 Seduction?

Well, despite my complaints, I did enjoy my week with this little French cutie.

It does look great, especially with its 16-inch alloys and daytime running lights, there's a decent amount of space in the front and in the back for the kids, plus 300 litres in the boot. There's also Bluetooth and USB connectivity, and that air-con was nice and icy - much needed in last month's Perth heatwave.

What's not needed on a 39C WA day is that Zenith roof. While it was great at night when we took the kids on a Christmas lights hunt, I had it closed most of the time.

VERDICT
The C3 looks good but instead of a sliding roof, Citroen could do with sliding back the price. The Seduction's list price of $22,990 (although a 1.2-litre manual starts the range at $19,990 drive away) puts it into competition against bigger popular brands such as the Mazda3 and Hyundai i30. And they give you more than four gears.

CITROEN C3
Model: Seduction
Price: $22,990
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol
Ouputs: 88kW/160Nm
Transmission: Four-speed automatic
Thirst: 6.6L/100km

COMPETITORS
FIAT 500
Model: Lounge
Price: $20,300
Engine: 0.9-litre two-cylinder turbo petrol
Outputs: 63kW/145Nm
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Thirst: 3.9L/100km

RENAULT CLIO
Model: Dynamique
Price: $23,290
Engine: 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Outputs: 88kW/190Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Thirst: 5.2L/100km

PEUGEOT 208
Model: Allure
Price: $23,990
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol
Outputs: 88kW/160Nm
Transmission: Four-speed automatic
Thirst: 6.7L/100km

The West Australian

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