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REVIEW – Citroen C3 Aircross Flair

Associate Editor, Social Content Manager


Citroen C3 Aircross Flair 1.2 PureTech 130
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
3.5

Summary

The Citroen C3 Aircross is a new B-segment SUV that manages to maintain the marque’s tendency for visual marmite. You will wither love or hate the way this car looks. But it’s not just about looks. There are a range of small-yet-powerful engines to choose from, and the 1.2 PureTech 130 is a highlight in the range. With plenty of space the C3 Aircross makes for a practical family car, and is surprisingly good value for money.


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Exterior Styling

It’s safe to say that you’ll instantly recognise the C3 Aircoss as nothing other than a Citroen. It has the usual splash of French style right across the body work, which makes it one of the more standout B-segment SUVs in the market.

To the front your eyes are instantly drawn to the two-tier lights. Those lights help break up the large front bumper. At the bottom of the bumper, you’ll find a contrasting black cladding with splashes of silver.

It’s not especially premium, but it certainly makes you think of the C3 Aircross as a rugged outdoor vehicle.

To the sides, the black cladding continues over the wheel arches and side skirts. Under those bulging arches are 17-inch alloy wheels. The design itself is a little funky: Citroen call them ‘4 ever’ alloys.

One thing we were surprised not to find on the C3 Aircross was Airbump side panels. We saw these previously on the C4 Cactus. The C3 hatchback on which the Aircross is based also features them. However the C3 Aircross doesn’t really need them: it already looks tough and rugged enough.

At the rear the tail lights are neatly set into the quarter panels with a slight indentation into the tailgate. Black cladding finishes off the bottom of the bumper with the same silver contrast seen on the front. A black rear spoiler was featured on our test car to match the black contrasting roof and complements the passion red bodywork.

With so many cars to choose from in this segment, it’s refreshing to see car like the C3 Aircross. I mean it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but you certainly couldn’t call it boring.

Interior Finish

With the C3 Aircross, it looks like the funk from the exterior hasn’t quite made its way inside. Citroen has fitted two-tone seats that look almost armchair-like. Not the most inviting or exciting that’s for sure.

Upfront you’ll find old-school dials that make you pinch yourself in case you’ve stepped back in time. To the centre of the dash is a more modern 7-inch touchscreen – more on that later.

What surprised me the most was the variety of colours, or lack of it more like. Citroen is usually quite strong in this department, I mean just look at those white contrasting stripes on the exterior.

But the colour scheme in the cabin of our C3 Aircross was less eccentric artist, more auditor. The vast majority of the cabin is either grey or black. There’s the odd splash of silver, and some gloss trim, but on the whole it’s a bit too plain to suit the C3 Aircross.

There are more striking interior ambiances to choose from, including some with red air vent surrounds. But there still isn’t as much customisation as we’d like on such a funky-looking car.

Then there’s the quality of those black plastics. I know the price point isn’t that of an Audi but the plastics were on the hard and scratchy side.

At the rear of the C3 Aircross there’s no creature comforts. The rear seats are designed as a singular bench. Again, as with the front, they don’t look the most inviting but they serve a purpose, and help with practicality.

Engine/Performance

There are a variety of engines available in the Citroen C3 Aircross. They are all pretty small in capacity, but with modest power outputs.

Take the petrol engine in our test car. Called ‘PureTech’ it’s a 1.2 litre, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. It’s widely used across the Citroen and Peugeot range, and with good reason. It’s a great little engine.

The engine delivers 130PS with 230Nm of torque. In the C3 Aircross – which is lighter than you might expect given its size – that’s plenty. With a 0-62mph sprint time of 8.8 seconds, you could have a little laugh teaching the youth of today a lesson at the lights.

You even get a nice 3-cylinder thrum for a soundtrack. The PureTech is quiet enough at lower revs, but gets a bit more vocal as you climb higher in the rev range.

The 6-speed manual gearbox does its job, but is not the most refined of gearboxes. It lacks precision, and can feel a bit vague at times. But it does allow you to get the most out of the limited engine power, and having a 6th gear is great for motorway cruising.

Considering all things, the 1.2 PureTech engine is plenty for a car in this segment. Let’s be honest, you don’t look at a C3 Aircross and instantly think power and performance. So finding out it responds well to burying the accelerator in the carpet is a pleasant suprise.

Ride/Handling

Looking over the marketing materials for the C3 Aircross, Citroen speak highly about its comfort. So, our expectation was that the C3 Aircross would ride over every pothole with no drama whatsoever.

Our verdict of the ride and ‘comfort’ was less flattering. Either the C3 Aircross was tested on the smoothest road known to man, or the marketing department is up to its usual tricks of embellishment.

On our British roads, notorious for being broken-up, nearly every bump could be heard or felt in the cabin. This is largely due to stiffer suspension, designed to minimise body roll in the C3 Aircross.

Thankfully it works. There is definitely less body roll in the corners than we expected of a car this tall. There is still a bit of pitch when turning-in at higher speeds, but the overall handling is far less comical than we thought it would be.

What saves the C3 Aircross from being properly uncomfortable are those armchairs up front. What they lack in visual appeal they make up for in being soft and comfortable.

The only other downside is a lack of bolster support, so any enthusiastic cornering may result in you falling out of the window.

For extra sure-footedness you can opt for the very good Grip Control system. It’s essentially four wheel drive capability in a two wheel drive system. And it’s more than enough for a B-segment SUV. Our test car didn’t feature it, but we’ve tested it previously and been impressed.

The C3 Aircross feels somewhat nimble, thanks to light steering. Despite this it does actually provide some feedback, even if the steering wheel itself is a little big.

Economy

Being a practical family car there’s an attached expectation that the C3 Aircross should be cheap to run. The 1.2 litre PureTech engine we tested claims 44.7mpg on the combined WLTP cycle.

The reality is not far off, as we are finding is increasingly the case since the WLTP testing standards were introduced. In the C3 Aircross we were seeing figures slightly above 40 mpg on average. No complaints there.

CO2 emissions come in at an NEDC-equivalent 119g/km. That means VED when registering the vehicle is £170, and £145 thereafter.

That will be comparable with most, if not all, rivals. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to favour cars based on VED. Providing they are under £40,000 and don’t attract the surcharge that is…

You get start/stop technology, and the 6-speed gearbox really helps when on a longer motorway drive.

Average running costs (based on 12,000 annual miles) are estimated at £100 a month, which you can’t argue with at all. Especially given the amount of space and practicality.

Because the C3 Aircross is reasonably priced – more on that later – it could also appeal to company car drivers. It is a nice balance of efficient and cheap, making it kinder on your wallet through your P11D.

Practicality

Practicality is the second area that the marketing team at Citroen decided to push. The C3 Aircross is sold as a practical car, perfect for a family adventure. It all sounds rather pleasant

As a family man myself, I certainly had my expectations. It’s hard not to when you see the C3 Aircross in the flesh. Rounded lines do well to hide this cars enormity. It’s a lot bigger than you think.

As a result though, most of my expectations of practicality were either met or exceeded.

In the rear you’ll find plenty of room, certainly enough to easily fit two adults in the back, maybe even three at a push. Head and leg room was in plentiful supply. Although I am 5ft9in tall so admittedly don’t need an awful lot of either!

The spaciousness continues further back, with 410 litres available in the boot. That space can then grow to 520 litres if you move the rear seats forward. The boot featured a two-tier floor, and the seats could be dropped to give a flat load bay for those larger items.

Another interesting feature is the folding front passenger seat, allowing for even larger items to be loaded with ease.

Just don’t tell the other half when you’re off to Ikea, otherwise it could be an expensive trip. Although if it gets too much for you, simply fold their passenger seat down and make them walk home…

Equipment

Citroen are not regarding as the go to car manufacturer for stacking equipment into their cars. Surprising the C3 Aircross comes as a bit of an exception.

All C3 Aircross models come with a touchscreen including DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity. The 7-inch screen is standard across all models and is one of the more comprehensive systems in the SUV B-segment.

The system allows you to control all aspects of the cars features including the climate control. The Flair model we tested also includes Sat Nav as standard.

Mirror screen allows for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to create seamless connectivity to your mobile phone.

As part of the Flair specification you also get an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and automatic windscreen wipers.

It has Citroen’s Connect Box with emergency & assistance system. Push the SOS button and the car will contact the emergency services. In a serious incident, it will activate automatically.

Flair models feature Active Safety Brake with Forward Collision Warning. This is Citroen’s autonomous emergency braking system. These systems are becoming more common on new cars and can save some cash on the old insurance bill.

Additional safety equipment comes in the form of Hill start assist and blind spot monitoring.

That leaves the C3 Aircross pretty generously equipped, albeit not quite on a par with the likes of Kia or Hyundai who are renowned for having the most comprehensive standard specifications.

Value For Money

Prices for the Citroen C3 Aircross start at £16,655. Our test car, the 1.2 PureTech 130 Flair, has a standard price of £20,435. It features a brilliant engine and a generous level of equipment.

And, for once, that was also the price of our test car. There are a few optional extras available on the C3 Aircross, but none were fitted to our car. There are paint and colour customisation – both interior and exterior – available.

The Family Pack gives more practical features, including the aforementioned folding front passenger seat. It is also reasonably priced, as are most of the options for that matter.

The most expensive option is a panoramic roof at £1,030. But even that is largely in line with what most manufacturers – Kia and Hyundai excepted – would charge.

Given the level of practicality on offer with the C3 Aircross, it’s hard to argue with the price point as a family car.

The C3 Aircross makes a great addition to an increasingly-popular segment. There’s loads of space both throughout the cabin and in the boot. In the areas that matter most, the Citroen is above average in its class.

The exterior styling is very much love-it-or-hate-it, but at least it’s not boring. Just make sure to look at the different ambiance options for the interior, to make sure that isn’t boring either!

But then it has to be said, much of the Citroen range is, visually at least, ‘Automotive Marmite’. Peugeot siblings play it somewhat safer on exterior style and the Citroen cars are a bit wackier. And the C3 Aircross is one of the wackiest looking of the lot.

Facts and Figures

Engine 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Max power 130PS at 5,500rpm
Max torque 230Nm at 1,750rpm
Drivetrain 6-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive
0-62mph 8.8 seconds
Top speed 122mph
Fuel tank size 45 litres
Fuel consumption 44.7 mpg WLTP
CO2 emissions 119 g/km NEDC equivalent
Kerb weight 1,173 kg
Towing capacity 840kg braked / 600kg unbraked
Luggage capacity 520 litres
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £20,435
Price as tested £20,435
Company website www.citroen.co.uk/new-cars-and-vans/citroen-range/citroen-c3-aircross-suv

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