Currently reading: Nearly new buying guide: Citroen C3 Aircross
Have an eye on an affordable, practical crossover? You could do worse than going French
Autocar
News
3 mins read
19 August 2021

Small SUVs may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they’ve gone from strength to strength. With their funky looks, compact size and low running costs, it’s not hard to see why they’re so popular.

The C3 Aircross is Citroën’s offering in this class. With chunky styling and off-roader-inspired accessories, including roof bars and extra black plastic body cladding, it’s a tough-looking and desperately cute little thing that neatly superseded the boxy, MPV-like C3 Picasso.

The engine options start with an 82bhp 1.2-litre petrol, then get more exciting with two turbocharged 1.2-litre petrols that make 108bhp and 128bhp. There are also two 1.5-litre diesel offerings, producing 99bhp and 118bhp.

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Post-2020 models give you three engines to choose from: the same 1.2-litre turbo petrols plus an updated 1.5-litre diesel with 108bhp. The more potent units offer a six-speed automatic gearbox as well as the standard six-speed manual.

There were initially three trim levels: Feel, Origins and Flair. Even the most basic is well equipped, with a touchscreen infotainment system, air conditioning and cruise control. Origins offers mainly cosmetic upgrades, while Flair owners can boast of keyless entry and start, rain-sensing wipers and climate control.

The range later became C-Series, Rip Curl, Shine and Shine Plus.

Citroëns ride well, right? Well, the C3 Aircross’s soft suspension and squishy seat cushions do initially seem inviting, but you find yourself being tossed from side to side on rougher surfaces and the body rolls quite a lot when you’re cornering.

It’s quite refined, though, and it’s pleasant enough to drive, although the steering is vague and the numb clutch takes some getting used to.

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Car review

Does Citroën’s quirky junior crossover have the substance to match its style, or is that not enough to make an impact in a competitive class?

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There’s more to get excited about inside the C3 Aircross than in most small SUVs. From the art-deco air vents to the silver accents below the touchscreen, everything has been designed to be interesting to look at rather than purely functional.

Each model gets its own colour scheme, while part-leather seats are optional on swanky Shine Plus trim.

And practicality is where the C3 Aircross comes into its own. Its boxy shape means a spacious boot, and the rear and front passenger seats fold down so you can carry large items.

What’s more, on Flair/Shine Plus trim, the rear seats form a sliding bench, enabling you to choose a greater boot volume or more rear knee room.

Some C3 Aircrosses are fitted with an optional glass sunroof, but this compromises head room, so if you’re more than 6ft tall, you might want to avoid such examples.

Need to know

The diesel is officially the most frugal, achieving 67.2mpg, while the Puretech 110 is rated at 51.5mpg and the Puretech 130 47.3mpg.

Prices start at around £9000, which gets you a 2017 or 2018 1.2 Puretech Feel. Spend up to £11,000 on a top-spec 2018 model or push the budget to between £12,000 to £17,000 for a 2020 or 2021 car.

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The C3 Aircross has been the subject of a number of recalls, including to fix incorrect emission levels and faulty seat-position sensors. Make sure to check that the car you’re buying has had any recall issues dealt with.

The C3 Aircross achieved a full five-star Euro NCAP safety rating when it was tested back in November 2017.

Our pick

1.2 Puretech 110

The 108bhp engine is decently refined and plenty punchy enough, so you won’t be yearning for the 130’s extra poke. It’s more frugal, too. The diesel is yet more so, but the Puretech units are sweeter and suit the C3 Aircross better.

Wild card

1.2 Puretech 130 Shine Plus

If you feel like splashing out, the top trim level brings sat-nav, a rear-view camera and front parking sensors. You will need to keep your eyes peeled if you want leather, though.

Ones we found

2018 C3 Aircross 1.2 Puretech 110 Feel, 15,000 miles, £9990

2019 C3 Aircross 1.2 Puretech 130 Flair, 11,500 miles, £12,450

2021 C3 Aircross 1.2 Puretech 130 Shine Plus, 32 miles, £19,995

Trinity Francis

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