First Drive Review: Citroën C3 Aircross

Independent review by Stewart Smith

5-minute read

Blue Citroen C3 Aircross Exterior Front Driving

First Drive: Citroën C3 Aircross

Explore the key features of the Citroën C3 Aircross in our expert first drive review

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Exceeding expectations with its comfortable ride and impressive powertrains, the C3 Aircross is set to be another hit from the French manufacturer.


  • Distinctive design
  • Plush interior
  • Good level of practicality
  • Plenty of kit to choose from
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Citroën is rightly famous for producing motors with styling flair a little bit out of the ordinary, and its latest offering, the C3 Aircross compact SUV, hits just the right note.

This is a vehicle which should appeal to the younger element looking for a stand-out vehicle.

Smaller SUVs have become all the rage in the motoring world and the Citroën C3 Aircross will be competing with the likes of the Nissan Juke, Kia Stonic, Hyundai Kona, and SEAT Arona, so the competition will be fierce.

But on looks alone, the Citroën gets my vote, with its chunky go-anywhere looks including rear skid plates, flared wheel arches, attractive alloy wheels, a low and wide air intake at the front, and roof rails.

Design and Practicality

There's a lot of choice as to how this new SUV looks. It comes in three trim levels, Touch, Feel, and Flair, and is offered with up to 90 colour combinations, featuring eight body colours, four roof colours and a choice of four colour packs.

There's even a 'Venetian blind' pattern in the rear side window, a distinctive feature which helps to keep the sun's rays away from the back seat passengers.

The interior is equally impressive with reasonable quality seating, including a rear bench seat which can be slid forward or back to offer flexibility, and leg and headroom are good.
Stewart Smith

For family motoring, the C3 Aircross, produced in Zaragoza in Spain, has the largest boot in this compact SUV class.

The standard volume of 410 litres can be increased to 520 litres with the rear bench in the fully forward position. Total load volume with the rear seats folded down flat is an impressive 1,289 litres.

It also comes with a removable luggage shelf that can be stored in a vertical position behind the rear bench.

A further touch is the dual-height boot floor which provides the option of a flat floor with the rear seatbacks folded, and the front passenger seat can be folded down to transport long objects.

Technology and Equipment

The controls are well laid out and easy to understand and on the Feel and Flair models you get a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system incorporating Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, leather steering wheel plus LED daytime running lights.

On the top-of-the-range Flair, Citroën has added items such as keyless entry, auto wipers, rear parking sensors, electric rear windows, and an integrated sat nav in the touchscreen.

In typical Citroën fashion, the handbrake is unusually styled and there's the option of a head up display. It can also be specified with a panoramic glass roof.

Depending on the specification you choose, the C3 Aircross offers a goodly range of standard and optional safety and comfort equipment including reversing camera, keyless entry, park assist, blind spot monitoring, head-up display, lane departure warning, speed sign recognition, grip control, and hill descent.

Driving Experience

I found the interior very comfortable with a good high driving position, although, as with many SUVs, the wide front pillars were a bit obstructive on the extremely twisty mountain roads on the test route in Corsica.

The C3 Aircross comes with high ground clearance and up to 17-inch wheels, which makes it suitable for gentle off-road use.

As far as engines go, the C3 Aircross is offered with a 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine offering 81bhp, 109bhp, and 130bhp.

4-cylinder 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesels are in the line-up with outputs of 98bhp and 118bhp.

The 129bhp petrol and 118bhp diesel come with a 6-speed manual, and the lower powered petrol can be specified with a 6-speed auto.

Emissions range from 104g/km for the 98bhp diesel, which works out to an official fuel return of 70.6mpg, to 126g/km (50.4mpg) for the PureTech auto. The PureTech 110 Aircross is rated at 56.5mpg with a CO2 figure of 115g/km.

As far as the driving experience goes, I was impressed with the handling of the Aircross on a demanding hilly route.

Despite its size and high-riding posture it coped well with some pretty serious mountain roads with very little body roll on the sharpest of bends and, as you would expect from Citroën, the suspension ironed out all but the worst of potholes and broken surfaces.

The petrol model would probably be my choice and Citroën UK expects that around 60 percent will go for them, but it’s not to say I didn’t find the diesel I drove to be far behind in driving fun.


With plenty of kit to choose from and an impressively comfortable ride, it's safe to say that first impressions of the new C3 Aircross were strong. The fashionable looks of Citroën's new compact SUV allow it to stand out from the competitive crowd, while efficient powertrains and low running costs are sure to make it a hit with many of the UK's motorists.