What is it?
The Citroen C3 Aircross was introduced in 2017 as one of the firm’s ‘new generation’ SUVs, replacing the C3 Picasso, whose slightly awkward MPV stylings are now long out of fashion. The Aircross was pitched as having MPV practicality but with the upright driving position and styling of an SUV.
It proved a hit with buyers, becoming Citroen’s third-best-selling car in the UK. Now there’s a new one, boasting a fresh face, revised interior and a range of economical engines.
First of all the C3 Aircross has a completely new front end sporting Citroen’s new signature look, as seen on the CXperience concept car and more recently the new C3 and C4 production models.
There’s also increased personalisation, with up to 70 configurations possible, and new colour and wheel choices. The cabin has been updated too, with extra comfy seats in the higher specifications.
What’s under the bonnet?
There are three engines available, with two petrol and one diesel. The first of the petrol options is a 109bhp unit with a six-speed manual gearbox, while the second is a 128bhp engine with an eight-speed automatic. As for the diesel, it also has 109bhp and is paired with the manual.
We got behind the wheel of the lower-powered petrol, which is expected to make up over half of all sales in Shine Plus trim. It’s more gutsy than its power output implies, pulling the C3 Aircross along at a decent pace without sounding too strained while doing so. Meanwhile, it’ll happily sit at motorway speeds and won’t kick up a fuss when an overtake is required, though the automatic gearbox can be frustratingly slow to respond to inputs.
What’s it like to drive?
Citroen likes to put a lot of emphasis on how comfortable its cars are, and this is anything but marketing bluster. Immediately when you set off the suspension effortlessly soaks up road imperfections and potholes, providing one of the best low-speed rides in the business.
This continues at higher speeds, so longer motorway drives are incredibly relaxing – helped by the comfort seats in our top-spec test car. The natural trade off here is some lean in corners, but it’s not an unnerving amount and the C3 Aircross lulls you into a more sedate style of driving anyway.
How does it look?
Citroen’s updates have done a great job of modernising what was already a good-looking car. The face is now a bit sharper and more purposeful with the new LED headlights fitted as standard. There’s also a new chrome-trimmed logo which incorporates seamlessly into the front grille.
There are also new alloy wheel designs in 16- and 17-inch sizes, three new body colours and two new colour packs that tweak the look of various aspects of the car. At the rear, the taillights are now darker.
It’s a clever design, incorporating the chunky, muscular bodywork that gives an SUV presence, but designed in a way that gives it a cute and quirky character that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
What’s it like inside?
The positive impressions continue into the cabin. We only tried a top-spec trim, but were impressed by the quality throughout. All touchpoints use soft materials, and even those in lesser-seen spots don’t feel cheap and nasty.
The fabric insert in the dashboard adds some character, and the touchscreen is clear and easy to use. It’s also incredibly comfortable and spacious inside, making it ideal for families, while even the driving position is decent – something that can’t often be said of other Citroen models.
What’s the spec like?
Prices start at £17,320 for the C-Series trim, which has the lesser-powered petrol engine. Standard equipment includes LED headlights, bumper-integrated fog lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic air conditioning and seven-inch touchscreen with DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The most popular Shine Plus trim starts at £21,500 and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a black bi-tone roof, white colour pack, tinted rear windows, black leather effect upholstery and keyless entry and start.
In a sea of mainstream family SUVs it takes a lot to stand out, but credit to Citroen, because it has achieved this. It’s more than just funky looks and a smart interior, too, because the C3 Aircross is genuinely great to drive with a decent dose of practicality.
Perhaps the only real complaint is the dim-witted automatic gearbox, but the manual is a worthy alternative. With decent engines and a relaxing driving experience, the C3 Aircross makes a compelling case for itself.
Model as tested: Citroen C3 Aircross Shine Plus
Engine: 1.2-litre petrol
Max speed: 114mph
0-60mph: 9.9 seconds
MPG: 41.6 - 51.5
Emissions: 134-154g/km CO2