From £10,2657
Funky, small Citroën C3 Aircross SUV hits the spot where it needs to and misses it where you’d expect it to

Our Verdict

Citroën C3

Citroën focuses on design, comfort and infotainment for its new supermini

  • First Drive

    Citroën C3 Aircross UK 2017 review

    The Citroen C3 Aircross has got funky looks and a charming interior, but it's another small SUV, and another dynamic miss.
  • First Drive

    Citroën C3 long-term review

    Is the third gen Citroën C3 ‘fresh and different’ enough to take on its supermini rivals? We spend six months with one to find out
Matt Prior
19 September 2017

What is it?

You might note that the Citroën C3 Aircross is a rufty-tufty-looking crossover. Deciding to replace the Citroën C3 Picasso MPV with an SUV must have been about as hard as deciding whether to get out of bed in the morning. So here we are: B-segment SUV/crossover/call it what you will

It’s a 4.15m long, C3-based and 1.6m tall funkmobile that looks, I think, pretty interesting - in a fun, striking, slightly aggressive, angry Jelly Baby way. A bit like a Panda 4x4. Only, being a Citroën, it’s only ever a 4x2.

 

That’ll be because of the C3 supermini (and Vauxhall Crossland X) platform, which means this is a front-drive tall hatchback rather than a full-on SUV; albeit one with 175mm of ground clearance, and hill descent control, an adapatable traction control for off-road and all-season tyres on some versions; so it’ll get to places as rugged as you really want it to. 

To beachside or mountainside or yurtside, presumably - for this is one of those cars ideally suited to your active lifestyle, don’t cha know. There are roof rails, 60/40 split rear seats (like rear windows that open, not necessarily a given on a small Citroën), a fold-flat passenger seat and even, on this top version, a sliding rear bench to increase luggage capacity from 410 to 520 litres. Perhaps up to 1289 litres with the rear bench folded. Think of how much active stuff you could get in there. And you will. Because, damn, you so cool, bruh.

What's it like?

Mechanically? I suspect you don’t much care if you’re buying one of these. But given you’re reading this, you do. So you can have a 1.2, three-cylinder petrol with 81bhp, at a base trim that hardly anyone will buy from £13,995. The next trim up, of three, costs from £15,100 and is where it really starts. Adding a turbo to the 1.2 gives you 109bhp or 128bhp. The auto option (109bhp only) is now a six-speed proper automatic, rather than the awful single-clutch automated manual. There are 99bhp and 119bhp 1.6-litre diesels, too, both manuals. Pricing is all done by £19,525. There are struts at the front and a torsion beam at the back; both facts about as surprising as finding it gets dark at night.

If you’re fans of funky-looking exteriors, step right this way, then. And also if you’re fans of quite interesting interiors, too. But not if you’re fans of high-grade, solid-feeling interiors. Inside, it’s all pretty small Citroën stuff – stiff, brittle-looking surfaces, a bit shiny in places, but dolled up here and there to look the part. The two higher-spec versions get a big touchscreen that also, annoyingly, has the climate controls.

To drive? It’s okay. Better than you’d expect. Citroën has upped the roll stiffness over the C3 to prevent exacerbation of the supermini’s inherent wobble just as you turn, or brake, or accelerate, which makes it tiring to drive smoothly. 

The Aircross, pleasingly, is much more controlled; its roll rate is slower, more predictable, even though the steering remains light and, after making you think it’s not going to do much just as you start to turn, all of a sudden it does quite a lot. So it’s still a bit Citroëny. So is the very quiet diesel and tidy manual gearshift.

Should I buy one?

Maybe. To drive, it only reaches the heady heights of ‘not irritating’, which, while not sounding particularly flattering, is perhaps the best you can hope for. And it's not massively outclassed by its rivals anyway. It’s visually extremely likeable, feels less solid than some alternatives and is dynamically completely unremarkable. Refreshingly funky new Citroën, then; but, somehow, familiarly old Citroën

Citroën C3 Aircross BlueHDI 120 Flair

Where Corsica; On sale November; Price £19,525; Engine 4cyls, 1560cc, diesel; Power 128bhp at 3500rpm; Torque 224lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1233kg; 0-62mph 10.7sec; Top speed 114mph; Economy 68.9mpg; CO2/tax band 107g/km, 23%; Rivals Vauxhall Crossland X, Hyundai i20 Active, Fiat Panda 4x4

 

Join the debate

Comments
12

19 September 2017

With a sub-heading intro like "Mechanically? I suspect you don’t much care if you’re buying one of these".   Never read a VW Polo intro like that,

Nail in the coffin was "Maybe. To drive, it only reaches the heady heights of ‘not irritating’, which, while not sounding particularly flattering, is perhaps the best you can hope for."

 

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

19 September 2017

I drove one of these (C3 Picasso) for a few days last year. The awful automated gearbox was absolutely fine. I've driven about half a dozen variations of AMT over the years and they've all been fine. Why the hate? I seem to recall that any road test I've ever read of a car thus equipped hasn't described it as "awful" either.

19 September 2017

So being based on a supermini but being suv esque, surely this is a juke competitor and goes up against kias new stonic as opposed to a city car panda? Where does this leave the c4 cactus which is closer to supermini than its c4 name suggests?

19 September 2017
si73 wrote:

So being based on a supermini but being suv esque, surely this is a juke competitor and goes up against kias new stonic as opposed to a city car panda? Where does this leave the c4 cactus which is closer to supermini than its c4 name suggests?

It appears to be a standalone SUV model that just happens to be based on the C3, so being a small SUV I think its main rivals are the Juke, Stonic, Mokka, Q2, Captur etc. As for the C4 Cactus that too is also a small SUV and is therefore in the same class as the C3 Aircross and despite the C4 name, it's also based on the C3 platform. And it's the same size as the C3 Aircross too. The previous C3 Aircross was just a jacked-up C3 Picasso in the same way the Renault Scenic RX4 was.

19 September 2017

As I thought, not really a panda competitor as implied and weirdly will compete with the cactus. I quite like it though I think I prefer the cactus.

19 September 2017

This car seems to be a lot better than what the review suggests, be slightly and unjustiabfly unfair towards it. I'd sooner pick one over a Q2, the Citroen looks much better inside an out, appears to drive a lot better and will no doubt be more reliable too than Audi's infamous build quality.

19 September 2017

Gosh, I don't know what's worse. The almost cringeworthy bashing of this car 'because it's a Citroen' or the "you probably don't care" about the car's mechanics or handling if you're looking into buying one.

Autocar, don't expect to be around much longer in the digital era if you're churning out rubbish like this.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

19 September 2017

I absolutely agree with the comments about the review. It's condescending claptrap. I'm not sure I could ever take a journal seriously that publishes such lazy work. Go and stand in the corner and think about what you've done.

19 September 2017

youre paying nowt and you whinge, whinge, whinge.

Matt Priors failure is putting character and humour into his writing. 

nick Cackett uses too many words, and some of them are a bit too long and he uses a lot of them.

And Andrew Frankl finds positives in everything to ensure he keeps getting those exclusive first drives.

And the use of stars causes all sorts of consternation. Why, it's almost as if they are based on someone's opinion rather than an absolute mathematical formula. 

If you want dull, formulaic, uninformed writing then go back to autoexpress and top gear. 

Leave this freeby to those of us who would rather put our feet up in our lounge to appreciate a decent weekly mag, rather than have to stand in the supermarket or WHSmith clogging up the aisles. 

Thank you

 

 

You're not stuck in traffic - you are traffic!!

19 September 2017

Autocar is aimed at the enthusiast which this car is not aimed at, though while I am an enthusiast and enjoy a well set up car I also enjoy driving in general and find enjoyment in bland cars like my 05 jazz, no it's steering isn't as good as a fiestas of the same age but I still enjoy driving it as I may well do this citroen, being an enthusiast isn't just about the fastest and sportiest to me but about getting the best out of whatever I am driving and enjoying it.

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