Citroen C3 Aircross Review 2022

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 75% 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 resonable fist of both but excelling at neither. That said, the tiny three-cylinder PureTech petrol engines is brilliant. 

In the classic Citroen spirit of being knowingly different, the company has called its C3-based crossover 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 1.6-litre diesel should only be considered if you're driving mega miles.

We would go for the 110PS Shine Plus model, which retails at £21,500. 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.

Ask Honest John

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
Upgrading headlamps - will the bulbs get too hot?
"I need to upgrade my headlamps on my Citroen C3 Aircross. They are ordinary H7 and seem pathetic, hardly illuminating the road, especially when faced with oncoming traffic. Whether this is the height they are or what I don’t know. I’ve been looking at Philips X-treme or the halogen equivalent, or Osram Night Breaker. Apparently my car has polycarbonate lenses, will these upgrade bulbs be too hot? Hope you can help as night time driving is a bit of a nightmare at the moment."
It's likely you've already tried this, but see if adjusting the dipped beam up using the internal adjuster dial helps - you need to ensure this isn't blinding other road users, however. If you do upgrade, don't worry about the lenses - these bulbs have a greater light intensity, not heat intensity, so will not harm them.
Answered by Lawrence Allan
Can you recommend a reliable, automatic car with soft seats and suspension?
"I have had a life-changing operation and require a comfortable car with an automatic gearbox. I want soft suspension and soft seats. I want something similar in size between a Vauxhall Corsa and a Ford Focus. I have no badge snobbery. Any ideas?"
Try a Citroen C3. It's a very comfortable, soft small car available with a reliable automatic gearbox. You could also look at the slightly bigger Citroen C3 Aircross.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Citroen C3 Aircross cost?