We drive Citroen's new compact SUV for the first time
Pros: Practicality, standout styling, comfortable drive
Cons: Handling, seat adjustment, higher quality rivals
Citroen is moving away from the MPV segment in favour of greener SUV pastures, and it has replaced the C3 Picasso MPV with a munch funkier new compact SUV named the C3 Aircross. The Aircross should be a hit with family buyers too as it serves up practicality, a taller ride height and a host of customisation options and colours. We recently took the C3 Aircross on a tour of Ireland’s sunny south east to see what it is like to live with and if it can match other popular cars in the class such as the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke and Opel Mokka X.
What is it like?
Citroen aims to win new fans with the C3 Aircross, with its funky styling and customisation options which include a bi-tone coloured roof and coloured roof bars. The Aircross takes styling cues from the distinctive Citroen C3 Supermini, with slimline daytime running lights, a tall front end and chunky detailing features outside. Whether you like the C3 Aircross’ looks or not, it certainly stands out on the road. Our test car is a range-topping Flair model, with upgraded orange roof bars and stickers on the c-pillars.
The C3 Aircross boasts one of the most spacious cabins in its class. There is 410 litres of space in the boot, and the rear row of seats can slide forward to increase this to 520 litres. A range of optional interior colour packs are available for the interior, and our test car has orange details on the steering wheel, air vents, seats and various other areas throughout the cabin to match the exterior. Space is good with ample room to seat four adults in comfort, and headroom is excellent for front and rear passengers. The seats are wide and supportive, but we would have liked more adjustment from the driver’s seat.
Mid-range and high specification C3 Aircross models feature an easy-to-use seven inch touch screen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integrated as standard. Everything including cabin temperature and navigation is controlled via the touch screen, but it can take some getting used to. There is a single USB port in the centre console, while the rear windows have integrated blinds which is especially useful for families with small children.
Citroen offers the C3 Aircross with a range of PureTech turbocharged three cylinder petrol engines and also a larger 1.6-litre HDi diesel engine. The 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine is available in two states of tune (82hp or 110hp), and we drove the higher power 110hp version with a five-speed manual gearbox. This engine offers lots of get up and go for town-based driving, with punchy acceleration and comfortable cruising at higher motorway speeds. It can cover 0-100km/h in just over 11 seconds, and it has a characterful three-cylinder engine note too. During our time with the petrol-powered C3 Aircross, we found it to be suitably efficient and averaged 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres of driving (circa 43MPG), with annual motor tax rates at €200.
The C3 Aircross isn’t designed with off-road driving in mind and it is only available with front wheel drive, but it is available with Citroen’s optional Grip Control system for occasional excursions onto loose terrain. Out on the road, the C3 Aircross drives well with reasonable composure through tight turns. It isn’t particularly fun to drive however, and body roll is noticeable when cornering at higher speeds. That said, it is still highly comfort able and ride quality is strong, even with large alloy wheels fitted.
Prices for the new Citroen C3 Aircross start from €20,695 in Ireland, which means it is competitively positioned against other compact SUVs such as the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur. The base specification ‘Touch’ model has rear parking sensors, a digital radio with six speakers and cruise control and a speed limiter, but you’ll have to opt for the mid-range ‘Feel’ model to get alloy wheels, air conditioning and the seven-inch touch screen infotainment system. The range-topping ‘Flair’ model includes larger 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, wireless smartphone charging, front parking sensors, and a suite of electronic safety aids. Our test car boasted optional Grip Control, a full panoramic roof and an upgraded sound system, but it is priced accordingly, with a €28k price tag!
Carzone verdict: 3.5/5
The compact SUV segment is becoming increasingly crowded, but the Citroen C3 Aircross stands out with its funky design, a comprehensive range of customisation options and a comfortable cabin. While many of its rivals are better to drive and offer a better-finished cabin, most family buyers will be impressed by the C3 Aircross’ practicality and affordability. The C3 Aircross is a well-rounded package and certainly worthy of a shortlist.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Citroen C3 Aircross
Prices from: €20,695
Annual Road Tax: €200
Engine: 1199cc three-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Top Speed: 185km/h
0-100km/h: 11.3 seconds
Transmission: Five speed manual
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 410 litres