Citroen may be a late entrant to the Indian car market, but it surely is stepping on the pedal. Just over five months after launching its first product, the C5 Aircross SUV, the French car maker, on Thursday, globally unveiled the C3, the sub-four meter compact, which will take on the likes of Renault Kiger, Nissan Magnite, Hyundai Venue and the upcoming Tata Punch. The ‘Made in India’ C3 will be launched in the first half of 2022.
The company isn’t quite calling the C3 a compact SUV, but rather a “versatile hatchback with SUV styling codes.” SUVs are very popular in India and has been the fastest growing segment in passenger vehicles in the last five years. It is no surprise then that Citroen is betting big on this segment. However, its first product, C5 Aircross, is in the premium end, with prices starting upwards of Rs 30 lakh.
The C3 will compete in the much more affordable, although hugely competitive, compact segment, where companies like Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai corner a large chunk of the market.
Citroen says the C3 will enable the brand to expand in India. It is the first model in a family of three vehicles aimed at the international market, developed and produced in India and South America and which will be launched in those two regions over the next three years.
Citroen is a strong brand in Europe, but it says to ensure its future, it needs to become stronger in the international markets. Therefore, it is betting big on markets like South America and Asia, especially India, which, according to some estimates, is likely to become the third largest automobile market by 2025-26.
“We are rolling out an ambitious product plan in order to achieve this, which will see the launch of three internationally-oriented models in three years. Models designed, developed and produced in strategic regions and which will fully represent Citroen’s identity in terms of style and on-board peace of mind. New C3 is a vital part of this international ramp-up and the first stage of the growth strategy. This hatchback, less than 4m long, is aimed at a major segment in India and South America,” said Vincent Cobee, the CEO of Citroen.
Citroen has been tight lipped on pricing but is expected to be affordable and competitive given how crowded the sub-four meter segment is. To that extent, it is 90 per cent localised. The company further aims to boost its localisation levels, by leveraging its research and development centre in Chennai, vehicle assembly plant in Thiruvallur and the powertrain plant in Hosur, Tamil Nadu.
“The C3 is a very crucial part of our India growth journey and will be the backbone of our local development strategy. This car fits right into the heart of the Indian market where 70 per cent of the demand is for sub-4 metre cars and 50 per cent of customers are first-time buyers. This segment has been growing rapidly and C3 will fit right in with its affordability and attractiveness,” said Roland Bouchara, CEO and MD for Stellantis in India.
Stellantis is the multi-national automobile group formed earlier this year following the merger of Fiat Chrysler and France’s PSA Group.
Targeted at the Indian market, the C3 will have a higher ground clearance (180mm), higher bonnet and elevated driver position. It differs from the European version of the C3.
The C3 is likely to be powered by a 1.2 litre turbo petrol engine mated to a manual as well as an automatic transmission, although the company has not made any disclosures on that front.
The heavy black cladding all around will emphasise its SUV styling. On the interiors, a 10-inch wide screen infotainment system, with android auto and apple car play, should take the centrestage.