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Citroën C3 Aircross - Test Drive Review

By Motor Match • 22/03/2018

Award winning Motoring journalist, John Swift gets behind the wheel of Citroën’s latest model; a compact SUV, the Citroën C3 Aircross.

With the market moving overwhelmingly towards SUVs, it won’t have taken long for Citroën’s bosses to decide this is where the new C3 Aircross was going to fit.

The result is a car that I think only the Fiat 500 can match, in the small car sector, for putting a smile on your face purely by the way it looks.What may have taken a little longer was deciding on its looks, because the stylists seem to have been given free rein to come up with something that is as funky, as fun and as fresh, as possible.

Styling: 5/5

Well, whatever you think of it you can’t deny it’s distinctive!

Of late Citroën has adopted a super-slim `light bar’ motif just in front of the bonnet lip with its double chevron badge in the middle and the bigger light clusters beneath. It’s a brand image increasingly identifiable as Citroën’s and one that I think works well.

The Citroën C3 Aircross is aimed at the compact SUV market and as such has all the requisite styling cues. It features the plastic body protection around those chunky wheel aches and the lower front and rear skid panels, which could be scraped on the bottom of steep descents in real off-road terrain. Add the raised ride height to emphasise the 4x4 inspiration and it’s ‘bang on trend’, as advertising folk like to say.

It follows the latest fashion too of offering contrasting roof and body colours and the list of personalisation options on offer is just amazing. To save you counting them all, let me tell you there are 85 colour combinations.

Being a Citroën, the C3 AIrcross just has to have a little quirkiness and you may notice the `venetian blind’ graphic on the rearmost window, by the C pillar. It serves no great purpose, but is indicative of Citroën’s aim to add character and you’d have to say they’ve succeeded!

Red Citroen C3 Aircross on the road

Interior: 5/5

It’s a fun car and all the better for it.

Just as the outside is full of character, so too is the inside. You may notice that there’s a slightly `square’ theme going on around the light cluster at the front and rear and this is echoed in the cabin with the air vents and little trim highlights in them.

This is a bright and light-hearted car and the interior is full of colour highlights meant to lift your mood. There is a decent amount of front and rear space, perhaps not quite as much as in some others, but we are only talking a few centimetres here or there and it does have two big advantages inside. For one, the boot space is very big by the standards of the class and for two, the back seats recline and on mid-spec cars you can order a sliding bench, a standard feature on the top spec model.

citroen c3 interior

Driving: 3/5

It’s an OK, but not sparkling experience behind the wheel. For one thing the gear lever seems to have quite a lot of play in it and long throws between the gears. The steering is a touch too vague for my liking and there is a slight dullness about the way it responds.

The ride isn’t bad, though definitely on the softer side and that wouldn’t be an issue, if it weren’t also the same for the handling. I wish Citroën had done a little bit more with a UK-specific set up. That may be economically fanciful but it would have made the Aircross as much fun to drive as it is to look at.

It’s a light car, meaning you don’t need big engines and the 1.2 petrol unit in my test car was absolutely fine.

citroen c3 aircross from the rear

Equipment: 5/5

Definitely a big tick here.

Taking the important things first, the Citroën has up to a dozen driver/safety aids and it is good to see that from January those include an automatic braking system, one of the more useful inventions of late, as standard on the range-topping Flair versions. Cameras in the windscreen detect if the gap between tour car and obstacle ahead is closing too fast for safety and at speeds up to 52 mph will apply the brakes.

You can have Sat Nav, including a 3D voice controlled system, MirrorLink and Apple CarPlay and you can download the MyCitroën app to be kept up to date with service reminders.

It is also the first Citroën to have wireless charging for your smartphone while you’re on the move.

This is billed as a Compact SUV and to prove that this is more than just a label the C3 has an electronic intervention for the accelerator and brakes to give much more grip going up or down a steep, slippery hill. I can’t see this car being taken seriously off-road but if you do find a nice little picnic spot in a field, or go camping, then the Citroen will get you there.

Citreon C3 Aircross boot space


Good in so many ways and packed full of charm and character. It leads the way in a few key areas; it has some good safety features and even a degree of genuine off-road capability. Not the sharpest to drive, but above all this was tasked with being a fun car and on that it certainly delivers.

Citroen C3 Aircross from the side view

Want to get your hands on the C3 Aircross? Check it out

Citroen C3 Aircross side on

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