A WorldCarFans exclusive: pictures and details of the next generation Citroen C3, several months ahead of its official debut.

Anonymous sources have sent WorldCarFans exclusive photos of the upcoming next-generation Citroen C3, saying that the new car will be available sometime between now and March 2010.  The car will not initially replace the current C3, which will stay in production as a more affordable choice for potential customers.  These details come well in advance of the car's hotly anticipated Frankfurt Motor Show debut in September.

This strategy is not new.  Sister brand Peugeot used this tactic with the introduction of the Peugeot 207.  Meant to take the place of the 206, the French automaker opted to keep the 206 on until 2010 as a lower priced model.

Citroen presented details of their plan for the new C3 yesterday in France, according to sources close to the company. 

The current Citroen C3 was introduced to the market in 2002.  Four years later, the company gave the vehicle a facelift, with changes to the front end, rear fascia, and a redesigned dashboard and cluster panel.

In four photos leaked from the event, we see a C3 with some significant, and impressive changes.  In between the newly designed headlights we see a smooth surface boldly featuring a chrome-colored chevron logo.  Front bumper styling is improved with a more sporty look, better incorporated fog lights, and what appears to be a more robust air intake.  A black honeycomb grille is included, with the entire grille outlined in a chrome band.  Clearly, engineers have continued in the same direction as the Citroen DS3 Concept, introduced earlier this year.

One nice touch is the extension of the windscreen up over the heads of the front occupants.  This is an interesting take on a sunroof, something not available on the current edition.  Although others previously reported this car to have a full-panoramic glass top, it appears to not stretch all the way to the back.

The side of the car looks to borrow some design cues from the DS3 as well, using chrome for the door handles, and side-view mirror attachments.  Mirrors are more angular, featuring either a two-tone or monotone scheme.  Side panels are more defined, leading nicely towards the rear of the vehicle.

At the back, the new C3 will have a completely redesigned light cluster, that looks much better than the current design.  A strip of chrome across the hatch is a classy touch, stretching the entire distance of the lid.  A new rear bumper takes a much nicer shape, but we would like to see the entire rear painted to match the body colour.  From the angle of the reward-facing photo, it appears the spoiler and third light remain very close to the current edition.  The new shape of the hatchback glass does give a nice look to the car from back, and ensuring that it does not look stale when viewed from behind.

Although the current C3 does have many of the chrome accents seen on the next generation model, the new version just does it better.  The car looks like a well designed vehicle, and is much nicer than its predecessor.

These pictures feature three different versions; one painted in Arctic Steel metallic, another in Polar White, and a third in Obsidian Black.  We would expect at least the other four color options to remain available.

Unfortunately, we are not able to see too much of the car's interior.  Some have reported that the car will feature a dashboard and instrument cluster layout similar to the DS3.  Look for a clean center console, digital climate system, and sunken-in instruments.  It looks like an interior chrome package is available.  We definitely like the new wheels on the car.  Are we mistaken, or is the white C3 a right-hand drive?

The current C3 offers four petrol engines and four diesel models.  They range from a 1.1-liter petrol with 59 hp and 69 ft-lb of torque, to a 108 hp, 177 ft-lb 1.6-liter diesel.  Although we would like to see another, more powerful unit, expect similar engine choices and transmission options.  Today's model offers a five-speed manual, the automatic, and SensoDrive transmissions.  Start-stop should also be available.

We'll give you more on this story as it develops.  Until then, let us know what you think of the new Citroen C3 in the comments section below.

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