Citroën C3 Aircross SUV review
"The Citroen C3 Aircross is a quirky small SUV with cool looks, a cosy interior and plenty to like about the way it drives"
- Comfortable interior
- Attractive styling
- Decent engines
- Middling reliability
- Touchscreen heater controls
- Red is only ‘free’ paint colour
The choice of small SUVs available in the UK is extensive, with the Citroen C3 Aircross facing off against several stylish rivals including the Hyundai Kona, Kia Stonic, SEAT Arona, along with the latest versions of the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur, plus the new Ford Puma. If you’re about to go crossover shopping, there should be a model to suit you to a tee.
Having been on sale since 2017, the C3 Aircross came in for a major refresh in 2021, when it gained a more purposeful look. Slim new headlights, new daytime running lights and a widened grille were ushered in, helping the Citroen appeal to those who may have preferred the Nissan Juke's more angular looks. Comfort and tech has also been improved, and the C3 Aircross is competitively priced, undercutting most of its rivals.
The C3 Aircross also effectively supplants the quirky C4 Cactus as Citroen's small, funky crossover offering. Individual looks aside, the Aircross is actually thoroughly conventional under the metal, sharing its underpinnings with the smaller C3 supermini, and built in the same factory as the Vauxhall Mokka and Vauxhall Crossland.
The Aircross offers a 1.2-litre PureTech turbocharged petrol with either 109bhp or 129bhp; CO2 emissions start from 135g/km for the lower powered manual car, rising to 142g/km for the more powerful automatic. A 1.5-litre BlueHDi diesel is also offered with 109bhp emitting up to 125g/km of CO2. The diesel should appeal to high-mileage drivers, thanks to its 60.1mpg fuel economy figure but we'd recommend the PureTech 110 for most buyers; it can still return an impressive 47.9mpg.
The BlueHDi 109bhp engine is already well proven and here it provides impressive get-up-and-go, with a smooth delivery until well beyond the point you’d usually change gear. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 10.8 seconds, which is notably quicker than the 14.4 seconds of the diesel Renault Captur.
Taller suspension helps the C3 Aircross retain its composure, with only the occasional pothole grabbing your attention. In corners, the Citroen is equally well composed, resisting any stomach-churning body lean, despite having plenty of grip to remain on your chosen trajectory. It's anything but a sporty car to drive, though, because Citroen instead wanted to prioritise comfort.
Three trim levels are available: C-Series, Shine and Shine Plus. C-Series versions have LED headlights, alloy wheels, rear parking sensors and the seven-inch touchscreen from the prefacelift car, with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The C-Series is only available online, helping make it more affordable.
Shine trim adds a new nine-inch touchscreen with sat nav, while Shine Plus also brings bigger 17-inch alloy wheels and features like navigation and parking sensors.
As in the Renault Captur, the Aircross' back seats are on individual runners, so you can move them to expand the boot to 520 litres. Leave them fully back for maximum kneeroom and the boot measures 410 litres – figures which are good for the class. There’s enough room for four adults, but rear headroom is a bit tight for adults, particularly if the panoramic sunroof is fitted.
Safety is guaranteed, thanks to a five-star Euro NCAP rating. The C3 Aircross is fitted with the usual airbags, but there's also technology to help prevent a collision from happening in the first place, with autonomous emergency braking standard from the Shine model upwards.
All told, the Aircross is a very thoroughly conceived package, which loses out to rivals for driving appeal but more than makes up for this with a flexible, well equipped and comfortable interior. And that, after all, is what many small SUV buyers are looking for.