Citroen C3 Aircross review
The Citroen C3 Aircross is a compact SUV with striking styling, a comfortable ride and a versatile interior. It’s a smooth-operator, but alternatives offer more passenger space
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The new Citroen C3 Aircross is a funky French family SUV that makes more conservatively-styled alternatives such as the Volkswagen T-Cross or Skoda Kamiq look about as interesting as plain porridge. Not that there’s anything wrong with plain porridge, of course. It’s just that it’s a bit, well, predictable.
Anyway, this facelifted Citroen SUV will definitely be much trickier to lose in a busy car park – even if it’s a bit less cutesy-looking than before.
The old car’s slightly goofy square headlamps have been replaced with a far slimmer set-up; while a bigger front grille helps to make the C3 Aircross look ever so slightly meaner than it used to.
That quirky style appeal is bolstered by a range of choice 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels, and a handful of colourful exterior customisation packs. Its boxy shape and chunky black bumper cladding give it a bit of additional SUV credibility too.
That said, with no four-wheel-drive model available, accidentally mounting a tall kerb while parking will probably be the closest you’ll come to doing any off-roading.
There are quite a lot of hard, scratchy plastics in the cabin, but generally the C3 Aircross is pretty stylish on the inside. Our range-topping Shine Plus test car had some attractive fabric trim finishers on the doors and dashboard; and the leatherette- and fabric-upholstered seats look the part and are super comfy over distance.
The extra power of the 130hp petrol engine might be tempting, but in reality the 110hp is more than up for the task. It'll be cheaper to run, too.
You may not be quite so happy if you find yourself sat in the second row, though. Kids will fit back there just fine, but even with the sliding rear bench pushed all the way back there isn’t a huge amount of legroom for taller adults. And if you want any headroom at all, then avoid the optional panoramic sunroof like the plague. The likes of the Skoda Kamiq and Volkswagen T-Cross do better in this department.
That said, boot space is very good, and the seats all offer a wide range of configurability to help you free up room for really big, bulky items.
The same goes for standard equipment. Entry-level C-Series cars get LED headlights, automatic air conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, and a 7-inch touchscreen that’s loaded up with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Higher-spec models get a larger 9-inch screen with built-in navigation, too, but it’s not the sharpest or most responsive infotainment set-up in the world. We’d probably just use the smartphone mirroring systems instead of the factory Citroen one.
With two petrols and one diesel to choose from, engine options are pretty limited – but at least that helps to keep things straight-forward.
We’d go for the entry-level 110hp petrol with the six-speed manual gearbox as our pick of the range. It’s punchy enough for easy driving around town, and quiet out on the motorway. We easily averaged 47mpg during our time with it, so it shouldn’t be too expensive to run either.
Elsewhere, a softer suspension set-up helps to keep things comfy on all but the bumpiest roads, and a light but accurate steering set-up makes the C3 Aircross a very easy car to thread down tight roads and lanes. It doesn’t feel like a naturally athletic car though, so if it’s driving fun on a twisty road you’re after you’ll be better served by a Ford Puma.
But still, it’s hard not to like the C3 Aircross for its quirky charm. Not only is it funky to look at, it’s a comfortable, refined car that comes with a big boot and is very easy to drive.
So if this Citroen SUV sounds like your type of car, head on over to our C3 Aircross deals page to see how much you can save through carwow.
The C3 Aircross has a decent boot with plenty of versatility, but passenger space could be a bit better
The Citroen C3 Aircross is practical and fun – proof you can have your cake and eat it
If Citroen does one thing well, it’s comfort – and the C3 Aircross doesn’t disappoint on this front. You sit quite upright in your chair, in a perched position that lets you see clearly out down the road in front of you.
There’s good adjustability in the steering column, so you don’t end up crunched in over the pedals; and the Advanced Comfort Seats that come as standard on range-topping Shine Plus models are just that – comfortable.
The second row is a bit more of a mixed bag. Range-topping cars come with a sliding rear bench, so you can choose to maximise luggage space or passenger space. But even with these seats slid all the way back, taller adult passengers will find legroom is a little bit tight – a Skoda Kamiq has you better coverd on this front.
Then there’s headroom. Without the optional panoramic roof, you won’t ruin your hairdo on the car’s roof lining. Most adults will fit in just fine. However, if you do option it, that story changes pretty dramatically – so we’d definitely avoid it if you think you’ll regularly have taller passengers sat in the back.
Kids, on the other hand, will fit in just fine. The doors open pretty wide so loading a carseat in shouldn’t be too much of a faff, and the Isofix anchor points on the outer rear seats are easy to get at.
The C3 Aircross has you pretty well covered on this front, too. The bins in the front doors are big enough to easily hold a larger bottle, and there are a couple of cup holders in the centre console too.
The dashboard on the passenger side has a little tray integrated into it that’s a handy place for things like wallets and keys, and there’s a small storage compartment under the central armrest too. The glovebox, however, is pretty small.
The doorbins in the second row are a good size too, and if you need additional cupholders you can fold the middle seat back down flat to find them. Only the range-topping Shine Plus model get these, however.
Entry-level C-Series and Shine models don’t get the sliding rear bench that comes as standard on Shine Plus models, so bootspace is fixed at a reasonable 380 litres. That’s more than you’ll get in a Volkswagen Golf, but not quite as much as what a Peugeot 2008 can manage.
Move up to Shine Plus and that boot space figure jumps to 410 litres with the rear bench set up to maximise passenger space. Slide it all the way forwards and you’ll free up 520 litres of space behind the rear seat backs, but you won’t really be able to fit any passengers in the back if you do.
Still, the ability to move the rear bench makes the C3 Aircross’ load area impressively versatile. You can also rearrange the floor to either minimise load lip or to eek out a bit more space for taller items; and the rear seats and the front passenger seat both fold down flat to let you make space for really long items. Like skis or something.
The C3 Aircross is comfortable and largely very refined around town and on the motorway, but alternatives are more fun in the twisties
You get a very simple choice of three engines with the new Citroen C3 Aircross. There’s a 110hp diesel motor that’s paired with a six-speed manual gearbox; a 130hp petrol that comes with a six-speed automatic; and a 110hp petrol that’s also mated to a six-speed manual. All of these engines drive the front wheels only – there’s no four-wheel drive model available.
The 110hp petrol is the engine to go for. With a 0-60mph time of 10.1 seconds it’s by no means the quickest horse in the stable, but it conjures up enough punch to make it feel nippy around town and to help it get up to speed on the motorway in good time.
It’s a pretty quiet and smooth operator, too – it only starts to sound a bit coarse if you really keep your foot in it. Meanwhile, the clutch is light and easy to use, and the gearshift is accurate, so it’s very easy to drive in stop-start traffic. It’s efficient too – we saw 47mpg on our test route without really trying.
The 130hp petrol engine is similarly smooth and quiet, and you do notice the extra punch when you put your foot down – but it’s not night-and-day different as its 0-60mph time is only 9.2 seconds. That extra performance comes at a cost too: we saw about 40mpg during our test drive.
So the main reason why you’d go for this model is if you really wanted an automatic gearbox. Yes, it’ll make sitting in stop-start traffic a bit more bearable, but the gearbox itself isn’t the slickest set-up we’ve come across. Gear changes can be a bit ham-fisted, and it can take a bit of time to sort itself out when you’re pulling away from a junction – all of which affects smooth progress.
Meanwhile, the diesel engine is very good. It’s quiet at a cruise, offers good straight-line performance, and it’ll comfortably do more than 50mpg on a motorway run. But unless you’re going to spend the vast majority of your time actually on the motorway, chances are you’ll be better served by the 110hp petrol.
Decent visibility, a softer suspension set-up and lightweight controls all combine to make the C3 Aircross a very comfortable, easy-going car to drive around town. It doesn’t crash too loudly over bumps, and its engines all have enough easily accessible shove to help you move away from a standstill and nip into gaps in the traffic easily enough.
It’s a largely similar story out on the motorway, too. Here its ride remains settled, and those soft, supportive seats means it’s comfortable over reasonably large distances too. The engines all remain impressively hushed too, but there is quite a lot of tyre roar and wind noise at a cruise, which is a little bit annoying.
The same goes for the lack of adaptive cruise control – you only get a standard set-up on the C3 Aircross. Still, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition and rear parking sensors all come as standard from the entry level; while forward-collision warning, active safety braking and a reversing camera are all available on higher-spec models.
Unfortunately, the incredibly lightweight steering that makes the C3 Aircross so easy to drive around town does count against it when you want to throw it down your favourite twisty road.
It just starts to feel a little bit remote when driven quickly, and while grip levels are decent you don’t feel like this is a car that really likes to be pushed. There’s a bit of body roll through faster corners too, but not too much.
If that sort of thing is high up your priority list, a Ford Puma will be far better able to put a grin on your face. But for everything else, the Citroen makes for a comfortable, easy-going and likeable small SUV.
Quirky style appeal continues on the inside, even if material quality isn’t totally amazing. Infotainment could be sharper
Citroen C3 Aircross colours
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