What is it?
If ever there was a car that demonstrates changing trends in the car industry, it’s the Citroën C3 Aircross.
In its past life, it was the C3 Picasso: a characterful small MPV. But seeing as nobody really buys MPVs any more, Citroën replaced it with a small SUV: the C3 Aircross.
The C3 Aircross joins an ever-growing number of small SUVs like the Kia Stonic, Seat Arona, Vauxhall Crossland X and, of course, the genre-defining Nissan Juke. It’s also another that begins to blur the lines between high-riding hatch and SUV, such is often the subtlety of the niche.
The C3 Aircross joins the Peugeot 3008 and Vauxhall Crossland X as the PSA Group’s most style-oriented small SUV, with the Crossland X looking relatively staid and the Peugeot 3008 comparatively grown up next to the quirky, colourful Aircross.
What's it like?
On the outside, it looks fun. On the inside, it looks fun. To drive, it’s not buckets of fun.
Let’s break it down - the engine is good. PSA’s 1.2-litre, turbocharged three-cylinder engine pulls well from any speed with its 128bhp and 151lb ft - it’s sprightly and makes the car feel more excitable and perky, with a satisfyingly linear delivery of power. The harsh, raspy engine note isn’t the last word in refinement, though, and adds unnecessary noise to the cabin.
That becomes a bit of a cacophony at motorway speeds and on rougher roads – there’s a fair bit of wind and road noise. At least the ride settles down at those speeds, after being a shade on the fidgety side on normal roads.
It’s inoffensive to drive, anodyne even, which here isn’t a good thing: the steering is remarkably numb, and makes you feel a bit remote from the road – a bit of a contrast to the over-stiff suspension.
Unusually, going for the automatic gearbox makes the steering slightly worse – weighting it up spongily and taking away what (very) little feedback there was to begin with. Stick with the manual - it’s more at home in the dinky Aircross.