Citroen C3 Aircross review

Find out more about the Citroen C3 Aircross in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

Loading...
4
Out of 5

Pros

  • - Comfortable ride
  • - Excellent practicality
  • - Funky looks

Cons

  • - Touchscreen system can be slow
  • - Entry-level trims are sparsely equipped
  • - Not the best to drive
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

Model review

The C3 Picasso was a small MPV unveiled in simpler times, when buyers weren’t as fussy and before crossovers took over. However, by 2017, the C3 Picasso was past its sell-by-date, and Citroen needed to reinvent the model if it was to succeed.

The result was the C3 Aircross – first previewed by the C-Aircross Concept, which was unveiled at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. Its two main philosophies were clever design and comfort – two traits adopted by the production C3 Aircross, which was unveiled just three months later.

The model followed in the path of the larger C5 Aircross, with its unique body styling and many fantastic personalisation options available. Chunky lights, imposing plastic bumpers and huge roof rails give the C3 Aircross road presence you would not find in competitors. With 85 colour options and many owners taking advantage of these, it’s quite rare that you’ll see a pair of matching Aircross models.

Another hugely important aspect of the car is comfort, which comes as part of Citroen’s Advanced Comfort programme, which essentially means its models offer lots of space, an airy cabin, and superb ride comfort.

As with all new models, a range of safety assist and technologies were available, to try and make the Aircross as easy to live with as possible.

Latest model

The first addition to be made to the C3 Aircross was the announcement in January 2018 that all top-spec ‘Flair’ Aircrosses would be fitted with Active Safety Brake technology, which is an autonomous emergency braking aid that works between the speeds of 3mph and 52mph, and brakes automatically if the car senses a risk of collision.

The second addition has been a new stylish Rip Curl special edition, which was unveiled to celebrate Citroen’s success with the C3 Aircross partnership with the extreme sports brand. It comes solely with the 108bhp 1.2-liter petrol engine, and on top of the ‘Feel’ trim level, it adds 17-inch alloy wheels, gloss black roof bars, grey protection strips on the front-rear bumper, different upholstery and the option of various colour options at no extra cost.

Value for money

 

The Citroen C3 Aircross is not the cheapest small crossover on the market, although it’s still quite affordable. Prices for the entry-level ‘Touch’ start from £15,085 – rising to just under £20,000 for the range-topping models.

Standard equipment includes a DAB radio, Bluetooth, automatic lights and cruise control, which is a lot of equipment for the price, although it misses out on alloy wheels, which should be fitted as standard.

At the time of writing, the Aircross has only been in showrooms for a year, so used values are still high, with prices starting from £11,000 which will buy a mid-spec Feel model with the entry-level 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine. Our choice would be the 108bhp version of the same engine, which delivers an extra amount of punch, and is worth the additional £1,000 over the standard engine if your budget will stretch.

Looks and image

The C3 Aircross is undoubtedly one of the boldest-looking models in its class, although its funky styling won’t appeal to all.

Citroen is a manufacturer known for its vibrant styling and the C3 Aircross continues this trend – taking notable cues from the C3 it’s based on, as well as the larger C5 Aircross. All but the entry-level Feel models come with grey front and rear bumper protectors, which give the Aircross a chunky look, while a number of statement colours are available too.

However, it’s the personalisation packages which appeal to most buyers. Nearly 90 different colour combinations are offered, through eight body colours, three roof colours and four colour packs—injecting extra colour to the interior, door mirrors, front light surrounds and roof bars—while the rear three-quarter glass panel can be painted in the chosen colour in a ‘venetian-blind style’.

This design flair continues to the interior, which features funky air vents. The colour options also extend to the cabin. All but the Touch model feature a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, with this touchscreen being the undoubtable centerpiece of the interior. A number of key features—adjusting the air-con, for example—are operated using the screen, so it’s a bit underwhelming that it isn’t particularly intuitive to use, and can also lag when carrying out certain functions. The smartphone integration is also not quite as slick as ones you’ll find on rivals. But where the Aircross undoubtedly comes up trumps is comfort. The ride is incredibly relaxed, alongside being a welcome addition compared to the firm setups seen on a lot of cars. The designers and engineers wanted to create a ‘lounge-like’ feel, and they’ve certainly succeeded with a cushioned ride and comfy wide seats.

But comfort comes at the expense of the driving experience, which is as far from sporty as you can imagine. The 108bhp petrol engine is willing though, and the steering has a pleasing amount of weight to it. The clutch is oddly balanced and can take a bit of time to get used to, while the strange positioning of the gearstick can mean you have to stretch to put it into first gear, consequently taking the edge off the relaxed driving experience Citroen is trying to create.  Around corners is where you notice its lack of sportiness, with plenty of body lean in. But drive the Aircross sensibly, and there are few complaints—particularly with comfort.

Space and practicality

If practicality is important to you, the C3 Aircross is very impressive. In its standard guise, the Aircross offers 410 litres of boot space, and while this isn’t quite class-leading, it’s not far off.  Top spec Flair models also come with the addition of sliding rear seats, which can increase boot space to an impressive 520 litres, but this sacrifices rear seat space. Folding the rear seats down completely reveals a load space of 1,289 litres. All variants also come with an adjustable boot floor, which can be either left in place so you can have a flat floor—making loading easier—or dropped to a lower position so you can take full advantage of the boot area.

Despite its relatively small dimensions, the Aircross’s interior feels remarkably light, airy and practical. There’s enough legroom for all but the tallest of adults, although we would stray away from cars fitted with the optional panoramic roof which reduces headroom noticeably.

The Citroen C3 Aircross has also received a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, making it one of the safest models in its class. Speed limit recognition and lane departure warning are fitted as standard, with top spec models coming with autonomous emergency braking. It’s just a shame this isn’t fitted as standard to all models.

Engines

A choice of three petrol engines and one diesel unit are available on the C3 Aircross.

The entry-level unit is an 81bhp variant of the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol unit. It’s fine for town driving, but a 0-60mph time of 15.7 seconds makes it feel out of its depth on national speed limit roads.

The best (and most popular) engine in the range is a turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol unit producing 108bhp, which is available with a manual or automatic gearbox, and is the only variant you can have with an automatic transmission. The range-topping variant is the same engine tweaked to produce 128bhp.

The sole diesel engine is a 98bhp 1.6-litre BlueHDI engine, which we also recommend. Citroen used to offer this with a 118bhp output but this has since been axed on new models.

Running costs

All engines fitted to the Aircross will prove to be efficient. All petrol engines return claimed economy figures in the 50s, with the 108bhp 1.2-litre being the most efficient—managing up to 56.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 109g/km.

The diesels are unsurprisingly the more efficient models. The 98bhp diesel can return up to a claimed economy figure of 70.6mpg, with low CO2 emissions of 105g/km. If you cover a lot of miles each year, this is the engine to go for. Insurance groups vary between six and 20 depending on which engine you choose. It’s actually the top spec Flair models which will be the cheapest to insure, thanks to standard-fit autonomous emergency braking, that can help reduce premiums.

Things to look for

Citroen has not had the best reliability record in years gone by, so the question over the C3 Aircross’s unknown reliability is an issue you might have to contend with. That said, the engines fitted in the Aircross are tried and tested in Citroen, DS, Peugeot, and Vauxhall models, so there shouldn’t be any qualms there. You also have the peace of mind that all C3 Aircrosses are covered under warranty until the end of 2020, providing they don’t exceed the warranty mileage limit of 60,000 miles.

Rivals

The small crossover market is a lucrative sector for manufacturers, and one that is growing at a rapid pace. This means the Aircross has a wash of competitors, including the accomplished Seat Arona, Nissan Juke, Mazda CX-3, Kia Stonic , Hyundai Kona and Seat Arona. Other rivals include the best-selling Nissan Juke, Ford EcoSport, Vauxhall Crossland X, Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008.

Depreciation

The Aircross is so far holding its value much better than past Citroens have. This is largely down to the model’s popularity, which is leading to longer-than-normal waiting lists. That said, you can still get a sizeable few thousand pounds off a nearly new model, which makes the model a fantastic used buy.

Summary

  1. Funky and bold styling
  2. Lots of personalisation options
  3. Practical cabin for its size
  4. Very comfortable ride
  5. Good range of engines and trims to choose
  6. Cheap to run
  7. Rivals are more involving to drive
  8. There are still questions around reliability
  9. Good value for money
  10. One of the best small crossovers on sale

Related News

View Citroen News Archive
View All Motors.co.uk Reviews