Citroen C3 Aircross Review 2024

Citroen C3 Aircross At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Citroen C3 Aircross is a car that says 'Yes, I have a family, but NO I'm not boring.' It's loaded with quirky styling features and has a lounge-like interior that makes you feel good about life. Note, however, that less quirky alternatives are fundamentally better.

+Spacious and practical interior. Interesting exterior looks. Impressive PureTech petrol engines.

-Only top-spec models have the key kit you want. Noisy on the motorway. Is neither great to drive or very comfortable.

New prices start from £15,085
Insurance Groups are between 12–18
On average it achieves 78% of the official MPG figure

The Citroen C3 Aircross first went on sale in 2017 and has proved itself to be a hit in the UK as Citroen's third most popular model, sitting behind the regular C3 hatchback and C5 Aircross SUV in the sales charts. It's always looked distinctive, but a 2021 update gave Citroen's smallest crossover a more angular face, added new colour schemes and gave the interior a (very) light refresh. The cabin has lots of space for a car this size and lots of flexibility, while the driving experience treads a line between comfort and fun – making a reasonable fist of both but excelling at neither. That said, the tiny three-cylinder PureTech petrol engines are brilliant. Read on for our full review of the Citroen C3 Aircross.

In the classic Citroen spirit of being knowingly different, the company has called its C3-based small SUV the Aircross, rather than sticking an X on the end of it, or using the word ‘sport’ in the addendum, as most manufacturers do.

Different it may be, but it’s quite the apt name: ‘air’ denoting spaciousness and ‘cross’…well, they’ve stuck an X on the end of it.

The change from MPV to pseudo-SUV is a pure marketing move: the compact crossover is an ever-growing market. That said, the Aircross is in no way an SUV because you can only get front-wheel-drive versions, albeit a fancy traction control system with a setting for muddy surfaces is available plus there’s a good bit of ground clearance – 175mm more than a C3.

While it doesn't exactly look like an SUV, it does look like a Citroen and by that we mean – quirky. It mixes curves, with angular lines and details, chunky wheel arch extensions with contrasting colour shades. You can choose from seven shades of paint – including new-for-2020 Khaki Grey, Voltaic Blue and Polar White – pair them with four exterior colour packs, then do the roof in a contrasting finish. 

The same goes for the interior, where you can have a choice of upholstery, trims and colours that do a decent job of masking what is otherwise a fairly uninspiring concretion of moulded grey plastic. You also get an infotainment screen that isn't that logical to operate but comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so it doesn't need to be. 

Inside, it makes a good case for being a proper MPV. It has room for four tall adults to sit in reasonable comfort and top-of-the-range Shine Plus models have a rear bench that slides forwards and backwards as well as a front passenger seat that folds flat so you can use the full length of the passenger space to carry larger items. 

The boot capacity varies from 410 to 520 litres depending on where the back seats are set and all models come with roof rails so it's easy to fit a box to store any overflowing luggage the load bay can't swallow. 

But while it's aces practicality, the driving experience is no better than average. It's a confused miss-match of direct steering, suspension that tries to be comfortable but isn't and a manual gearbox that is baggy between gears and notchy when you're slotting into them. 

The PureTech engine is a gem, though. You can have it with 110 or 130PS, but it feels punchier than that: it's flexible in gear, happy to rev out and sounds nice while you're doing it. Its excellent fuel economy means the 1.5-litre diesel should only be considered if you're driving mega miles.

We would go for the 110PS Shine Plus model for its good value, which retails at £23,500. Three quarters of buyers choose a high-end spec and you can understand why because Shine Plus makes the interior feel posher inside and makes it more flexible, as well as adding useful kit like a reversing camera, front parking sensors and keyless entry. 

But whatever you spend, the basics of a spacious, idiosyncratic small crossover are intact. And for that reason, it’s easy to recommend the C3 Aircross if your a family car buyer looking to add a bit of colour to your life.

Looking for a second opinion? Check out heycar's review of the Citroen C3 Aircross.

Ask Honest John

What is a suitable car for a retired couple?

"We have a Citroen C3 Picasso which we now wish to change. It has been a great success for a 6ft 1in man and 5ft 2ins wife. Motoring is local, South Somerset lanes, plus main and motorway driving in UK and Europe. We wish to change for a similar but petrol-engined type and size vehicle with high seating. Is there any such model in the Peugeot range? Other makes and models you can recommend will be sought out and considered seriously."
We would suggest looking at the Peugeot 2008 or 3008, both of which offer a raised seating position and are available with petrol engines suitable for both town driving and longer journeys. You could also look at the Ford Puma, Citroen C3 Aircross and Toyota C-HR as alternatives.
Answered by David Ross

I need a replacement for my Citroen C3 Picasso - what should I buy?

"I have to replace my much-loved Citroen C3 Picasso with something maybe three to five years old. I love the Picasso's high driving position, its spaciousness, its big windows and its comfort. What do you suggest?"
Given you were such a fan of your Citroen C3 Picasso, we'd suggest going for its successor - the C3 Aircross. It has a similar upright body to the Picasso but with the higher-riding stance of a crossover, so it retains the high driving position you want. It's also spacious inside for a relatively compact car and has a comfortable cabin. The driving experience is also biased towards comfort rather than sporty handling. As an alternative, take a look at the SEAT Arona, which has a similar high driving position with a small footprint but offers the best level of comfort in the class.
Answered by David Ross

Can you recommend a comfortable small SUV?

"I want to buy a used hatchback or small SUV with the emphasis on comfort but with adequate performance. The biggest item I normally carry is a bicycle - my SEAT Leon FR is OK for size but the ride is anything but soft! The Skoda Kamiq looks promising but appears quite large. I want a manual box and 115 to 150 horsepower [petrol] with a budget of about £17,500. "
A Skoda Kamiq is a good option but will actually be smaller than your Leon in many ways. The bigger Skoda Karoq could be a good alternative. Look for one with small alloy wheels (and chunky tyres) for a soft ride. Also consider a Citroen C3 Aircross – it's a practical little SUV with a focus on comfort. Alternatively, a Honda Jazz is a versatile hatchback that'd be a great bike carrier.
Answered by Andrew Brady

How can I find a car with equivalent spec to my current car?

"I'm looking to buy a new car but I want equivalent spec to my 2014 Vauxhall Meriva Tech Line 1.2-litre petrol manual, with heated front seats, heated steering wheel and front and rear parking sensors. I am open to buying from Vauxhall or a different manufacturer, although it's only ever been Vauxhalls that I've owned. Do you have any suggestions for an equivalent make and model that would be a suitable replacement, especially anything that is at a cheaper purchase price?"
The best way to find out is to download cars' price lists – Googling "Make Model price list PDF" should come up with the goods – and then compare them side-by-side. I'd suggest looking at cars like the Citroen C3 Aircross, Peugeot 2008 and Vauxhall Mokka. I would expect the Vauxhall to be the cheapest option with your desired specification, but it's unlikely to be cheaper than your old car given the current sky-high prices.
Answered by Russell Campbell
More Questions

What does a Citroen C3 Aircross cost?