Thanks to the new SensoDrive gearbox, drivers of Citroen’s funky C3 can now gain added street cred by just flicking steering wheel mounted paddles to change gear – rally style. It’s cool, yet it also makes a lot of sense.
Fitted to the C3’s 110hp 1.6i 16v petrol powerplant, the new SensoDrive system is simplicity itself, providing the driving pleasure of a manual together with the convenience of an automatic, while also offering better fuel economy. Costing just £200 more than the manual version, the new model is currently available at just £11,195, including Citroen’s £1,000 C3 cashback.
Although SensoDrive is a manual gearbox, it has no clutch pedal, so flicking the up or down paddles located behind the steering wheel operates the clutch then changes gear. If the driver wishes, they can simply press a button and let the car change gear itself – effectively making it an automatic. And for added flexibility, those who prefer to use a normal gear lever will still find one fitted.
For ultimate safety, the car can only be started, or put into reverse, when the brake pedal is applied, while the gear lever must be used for selecting neutral or reverse. The system also offers added protection, by changing gear automatically if ever there’s any risk of over-revving or stalling.
Changing gear in a manual gearbox car is relatively complex, but it’s what most British drivers are used to and it does add a certain spirit to driving. On the other hand, automatics make driving much simpler, but at the cost of inferior fuel economy and a significantly higher purchase price. SensoDrive now offers drivers the best of both worlds – and more.Published 18 January 2003