Toyota Prius & Citroen C3 Compared

In 2008, the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland reported that Australia was highly dependent on car travel – it accounts for 80% of all passenger travel. There are 28 tonnes of greenhouse gases per head in Australia. Emissions from vehicles account for around 8% of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. Australia is behind other countries in this respect. In Japan, vehicles with less than a certain engine size have yellow number plates and are cheaper to register.

The government’s Green Vehicle Guide ( rates new vehicles in Australia according to the air pollution they cause and fuel consumption. The Toyota Prius and Citroen C3 both received five-star ratings, and fared well in green car reviews.

Toyota Prius via Fedor Selivanov /

The 5th-greenest car currently available, according to the guide, is the Toyota Prius Hybrid. It is economically as well as ecologically sound, using a mere 4.4 litres per 100km, so you can improve your conscience and your budget at the same time. The Prius is a hybrid – it uses an electric motor to power the vehicle at low speeds, which sends less nasty emissions into the atmosphere. It churns out only 102 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

The principal downside of the Prius is its cost — the RRP is $37,400. This is a lot for a small car of similar size to the Corolla, which costs only $20,990. The Prius is also not a memorable drive, but is a great car for cities, with light steering, a tight turning circle, and a large boot.

Citroen C3 via Art Konovalov /

The Citroen C3 has been in Australia since 2002. It matches the fuel consumption of the Prius. It delivers agility and power. It is roomy and comfortable. It has an ingenious stop-and-start option that saves petrol when the engine is idle. Visibility is second to none, and natural light improves the car’s interior. It produces 148g of CO2 per 100km. It costs $21,990 for a five-speed manual version. This car emphasises comfort over handling. The C3 has demonstrated that diesel engines can keep abreast of the development of hybrids. Hybrids are becoming less popular. Diesel engines are often more frugal.

The Citroen C3 is unique in being so stylish. It might not be considered sexy, but is certainly charming. The drawbacks of its appearance are that the boot is tiny and there is a dearth of knee- and headroom in the rear, although it is 30mm more than the previous model. 42 C3s in Australia were recalled to rectify a defect in the anti-lock braking system and electronic stability program which could cause reduced steering control while braking. It takes six minutes to check a vehicle, and two-and-a-half hours to correct the problem if a fault is found.

Although neither car was ranked as one of the top 20 best-selling in Australia by the Green Vehicle Guide, smaller cars are becoming more popular. There is perhaps some truth to what women have always said: bigger isn’t necessarily better. These cars use less petrol, so there are less greenhouse emissions. Downsizing allows you to save not just money, but the world.

In case you didn’t click through to Australia’s Green Vehicle Guide but are curious about the top 5 cars in that ranking, they are:

1 . Mitsubishi iMiEV
2 . Nissan Leaf
3 . Tesla Roadster
4 . Holden Volt
5 . Toyota Prius

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  • Thanks for the comment, good points! Cheers

  • mj8787

    These cars are not comparable as the Prius is rated as a medium sized car according to US vehicle size standards, positioned between Corolla and Camry in size.  The C3 is a small car, with around 50% less boot space and much less interior room.  It cannot be used as a family car, whereas the Prius can perform this role.  The observation about the cost of the car is largely answered by this difference in category. 

    Obviously they aren’t comparable from a environmental perspective, as the Prius has much lower C02 emissions and doesn’t have the problem of nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions that are typical of diesels such as the C3 (particulates are partially dealt with a filter, but particulate emissions remain much higher than a petrol powered vehicle). In terms of real world fuel efficiency, they may be comparable, though typically the Prius will outperform the C3 in urban conditions, with positions possibly reversed in open road conditions.

    A more relevant comparison would be between the C3 and the Prius C.  It is odd, but common, for the standard Prius to be compared with much smaller cars, it would be rare, for instance, for a Passat or Camry sized vehicle to be compared with a Polo.  Perhaps this is the ultimate complement to the size to efficiency ratio achieved by the Toyota.