C3 Aircross features a modular interior layout which aims at providing class-leading cabin space; on sale in autumn

Citroen has altered the design of its C3 Picasso from MPV to crossover: the result is the new C3 Aircross. Set to take on the Nissan Juke, the funky-looking C3 Aircross comes with the promise of class-leading cabin space that’s helped by a modular interior layout.

The car’s design, which is inspired by the C-Aircross concept shown at the Geneva motor show earlier this year, is significantly sprightlier than the bulbous C3 Picasso it replaces. Design director Alexandre Malval explained that this shift in look is part of the model's reinvention: “We want to migrate people across from the C3 Picasso to the C3 Aircross but we also want to attract younger customers," he said, adding that the C3 Aircross is "more playful" than the larger C5 Aircross because he believes that's what people expect from a smaller SUV.

It's a similar story inside, where the old C3’s cluttered layout has been traded for a cleaner, more premium one that ditches several dash buttons thanks to the fitment of a 7in touchscreen infotainment system. It includes smartphone integration and sat-nav, and can also be accompanied by wireless phone-charging.

The interior of the top-end C3 Aircross Flair looks quite high-end and rich, what with its part fabric facia, fabric armrests, floating dashboard and stylish airvents. That’s hard to achieve in a price critical B-SUV, design project leader Christophe Bouchet explaining that the widespread sharing of parts with other models allows the money saved to be spent elsewhere. ‘The Aircross has the same windscreen as the C3 hatchback, and also shares the same instruments for example.’ 

Bouchet explains that the rear side glazing with its Venetian blind-like strips is a blend of MPV and SUV. ‘A solid ‘D’ pillar makes the car look robust and SUV-like, but makes the cabin less light. The graphic gives strength, but provides light as well.’ Malval adds that ‘it’s a way to play with colours and proportions,’ this optional graphic making the Aircross ‘look more compact and SUV-like. It comes with a colour pack option that includes inserts around the headlights and wheel centre caps and matched door mirrors and roof rails.’

Despite being just 15mm longer and 75mm taller than the Juke, the Aircross can swallow much more luggage. It has space for 410 litres with the rear seats up and 1289 litres with them down – 106 litres and 100 litres more than in the Juke. However, the Aircross’s party piece is its modular cabin design, which includes a 60:40-split rear bench with seats that can slide forward and back by as much as 150mm. The boot has a removable luggage shelf and a dual-height boot floor to maximise flexibility.

The C3 Picasso was an MPV, the C3 Aircross is an SUV, and there are a couple of design features in the Aircross that have been taken from MPVs, explains design director Alexandre Malval. ‘The windscreen angle is an MPV feature’, being raked in the same way as a people carrier, ‘but we wanted a bonnet for a sense of robustness. It’s a unique shape. It also has sliding rear seats, which are an MPV feature.’ SUV elements include the ‘short bonnet, high seating position and short overhangs implying agility.’ ‘It has a very horizontal dashboard, emphasised by vertical airvents at the ends. Another width element is the seat design – it’s very square, like a sofa, but there’s more side support because the H-point is higher, so your body tilts more during cornering.’ ‘Phones are a headache when it comes to interior design,’ says Malval, ‘because they need space.’ The Aircross provides an induction mat in the centre console, and also a rubber-lined shelf ahead of the passenger.

Powering the new Citroën is a choice of PureTech three-cylinder engines: three petrols and three diesels. The petrols produce between 108bhp and 128bhp, while the diesels offer from 89bhp to 118bhp. The car’s driveline is urban-focused but has Citroën’s Grip Control system, which offers Sand, All-Road, Snow and ESP-off drive modes to boost traction when off road. There’s also a Hill Descent mode that can control the car down a steep gradient.

Additionally, the car gets driver assist technology including a reversing camera, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring. There’s also autonomous emergency braking and a driver fatigue sensing system.

The Aircross will go on sale in the autumn. Prices are yet to be confirmed, but a slight increase on the old C3 Picasso, which started at £17,135, is expected.

Our Verdict

Citroën C3 Picasso

The Citroën C3 Picasso is a cut above the MPV norm, combining style, space and quality, but it majors on comfort not fun

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12 June 2017
Funky, fun looking car that replaces what was my favourite in the current Citroen line-up with a more en-vogue look and feel. If anything, this is now more Cactus in concept than the Cactus, so the only downside I can see is potential for this car to steal sales from it's very slightly larger brother - I even think they are built on the same platform?
The car-buying public gets what it deserves, unfortunately ...


12 June 2017
They're making some of the best looking and most friendly-faced cars at the moment. A real antidote to the aggressive scowl of a Mini Countryman or any number of Audis for instance. I'd love to see an electric version.

12 June 2017
Citroen should really be leading the way on thoughtful design touches like Skoda do. I don't even see any cup holders in these interior photos - something that really irritated me in my old DS3. In fact there isn't much usable storage space at all judging from these photos - just swathes of plastic. Citroen's wellbeing philosophy needs to go beyond comfy seats.

"Work hard and be nice to people"

12 June 2017
Citroen, this is basically a very promising design, just make sure you don't overdo its funkiness and turn it into a caricature.

12 June 2017
l am amazed at the number of those horrible looking cars on the road.
at least the Citroen has got personality, and a bit of flair.


12 June 2017
This is the closest yet. Shortish, tallish, upright and roomy. A pleasing antidote to most hatchback on stilts crossovers.

12 June 2017
Another pointless fake SUV,what this does that the C4 Cactus does is not apparent to me and it'll cost more!!!!

12 June 2017
I'm liking Citroen's designs at the moment, far more interesting and fresh than those now coming from its DS relative. Citroen have obviously given up on the (short-lived) airbumps, though, first they were only standard on top model C3s, now they seem to have gone altogether. And I'm not sure what's particularly "premium" about having a fiddly touchscreen rather than at-a-glance, easy to operate climate control dials.

12 June 2017
I really am liking Citroen's styling at the moment. It is much better than DS at the moment. PSA in general, though, are really doing well with getting their styling sorted.

13 June 2017
I really like the look of this. It's inventive and fun and interesting all over. Thinking of the joyless designs coming out of Wolfsburg at the moment this is like Jeremy Corbyn compared to Theresa May. Should get the young vote but tempt the old too.


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