Citroen’s C3 has been an off-beat hatchback choice since it was introduced in the early part of the 2000s, and in its latest, third generation guise, it is the funkiest it has ever been.
But with market tastes pointing firmly towards SUVs and crossovers, Citroen has decided to provide customers with a jacked-up version of its supermini with this, the C3 Aircross.
Featuring most the same styling cues as the hatch, the Aircross comes with a slightly chunkier aesthetic and extra ride height to go off the beaten track every now and again.
But can the French compact crossover prove to be a market leader?
Two engines form the base of the C3 Aircross’ powertrain options – a 1.6-litre diesel with two power choices and a 1.2-litre petrol that comes in three guises. We tried both the 1.6-litre diesel in its most powerful 120bhp form and the mid-range petrol – a 110bhp unit with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Both units come with a top speed of 114mph, but the diesel, which in this case was paired to a six-speed manual, was quicker to 60mph – getting to the mark from standstill in 10.5 seconds. The petrol auto was over a second slower getting to 60mph, reaching it in 11.6 seconds.
Ride & Handling
To get the best out of the peppy petrol units and the torquier diesels, we’d suggest the manual transmission option, as the auto gearbox was rather sluggish at changing gears and could also be in the wrong gear at times – so your best bet is sticking with changing gear yourself. Outside of that, the Aircross is a very capable crossover, as it rides well and feels well balanced through the corners.
The steering does feel overly light though, which can take some getting used to – but the less weighty steering does come in handy around town and when parking, as you can easily throw the car into a tight corner or parking space.See Available C3 Aircross deals
Interior & Equipment
With five different colour combinations to choose from, the cabin of the Aircross is – much like the outside – quite funky, with many of the curvy shapes carried inside. Lots of soft touch materials are used, while there is also more than enough passenger space – although the panoramic roof we had in our test car did eat into the headroom.
In terms of boot space, the C3 Aircross performs well here too, as the 410-litre standard boot space can be extended with the addition of the adaptable boot floor, raising the overall space to 520 litres. With the rear seats folded flat, the boot capacity rises to 1,289 litres – about what you would expect for a car of this size.
Equipment-wise, the Aircross comes is available in three trims – Touch, Feel and Flair – with the entry-level model featuring most essential pieces of equipment. We tried the top-end Flair option and with it you get a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation and smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth, automatic air conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless start and entry, rear parking sensors, a sliding rear bench to improve either boot or passenger room, cruise control with speed limiter, automatic lights and active safety brake.
Prices for the C3 Aircross start from £15,545, which places the Citroen rather well in the compact crossover segment. The Flair model we tried came with a few extras on the side, so cost £19,720 – which considering the amount of equipment on offer is rather good.
With the 1.6-litre diesel unit under the bonnet, the Aircross can return a claimed 68.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 107g/km.
Although the crossover market is fiercely competitive, the C3 Aircross is one of the better options available. With good driving dynamics, a comfortable interior and excellent value, the Aircross can definitely claim to be a potential market leader, while also being much better than the car it replaced, the C3 Picasso. If you’re a driver in need of a lot of room for your family, this compact crossover should be near the top of your list.