A rash of new superminis will soon be hopping across the Channel from France.
Citroen, Peugeot and Renault all have their sights on a bigger slice of Britain’s small-car market, where sales growth is on the up despite the recession.
That’s due to several factors – motorists are downsizing to save cash; the £2,000 old-for-new scrappage incentive is favouring superminis; and the demand for greener, more eco-friendly wheels also does diminutive-drive sales a power of good.
Citroen will be playing for those high stakes with its new C3, a completely redesigned version of its bestselling predecessor, when it arrives here early next year.
The C3 has been good for Citroen, selling two million globally. The latest model retains the compact exterior look, with the addition of an innovative Zenith windscreen, which, says the firm, “flows dramatically up and over the heads of the front occupants”. That new screen is framed by slim side pillars, to both improve forward vision and create the impression of greater cabin space.
Citroen’s use of high-quality interior materials points towards a classier, more refined cabin – there’s even an integrated air-freshener.
Yet the new C3 remains one of the most compact of superminis, and is just 3.94 metres long and 1.71m wide, with a 10.2m turning circle.
New power plants in C3s from 2011 on will incorporate second-generation stop-and-start technology, have lower emissions and greater fuel economy.
Techno-buffs should note that the forthcoming Citroen can also be specified with USB, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, as well state-of-the-art satellite navigation and audio systems.
Peugeot, meanwhile, will be perking up this year’s summer sales punch with the August launch of its new 207 range. The firm’s evergreen supermini will get a massive choice of 12 different power-plants, plus revised exterior and interior styling, and upgraded equipment levels.
Those three popular body shapes – hatchback, SW (estate) and CC, or Coupe-Cabriolet – stay put, but in many other respects the supermini takes a formidable step forward.
Launched in the UK in 2006, the 207 has achieved 167,000 sales here, and in 2007 and 2008 it was Europe’s bestselling small car.
Notable changes to the Peugeot range include a redesigned front, more exterior body-coloured items and more chrome detailing, and new rear-light clusters which use LED panels on hatchback and CC models.
More details of Peugeot 207 prices will be released in mid-July.
But if you want a little French flair right now, then Renault has come up with a special-edition Clio, titled World Series.
It pays homage to Renault’s motorsport involvement, and is based on the sporty Dynamique trim.
The Clio World Series adds an extended front spoiler, side skirts, a sports rear-bumper plus special badging, and there’s a choice of frugal petrol or diesel engines, with prices starting from £12,170.
Megane Hatch and Megane Coupe models are also available as World Series editions, and Renault showrooms will have full price and specification details.