Citroen C3 Aircross Review 2022
Citroen C3 Aircross At A Glance
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.