Three small, ‘B Segment’ SUV’s launched in one week this month. One of them was this, the all new Citroen C3 Aircross.
It aims to take over where the old, rather dated C3 Picasso left off. MPV’s are strictly out, SUV’s and crossovers are in. The market dictates what cars end up on our roads and the sea of crossovers and SUV styled cars is set to continue.
Citroen have aimed to make the C3 Aircross look all butch and SUV on the outside, but still contain its practical MPV nature on the inside. Have they achieved it?
Prices start at £13,995 for an engine nobody in their right mind would want to live with. So realistically the C3 Aircross starts from £16,200.
There’s no doubt about it, the Citroen range is certainly looking unique these days. They tried generic and bland in the early 2000’s…look where that got them.
Front on, the split headlight design continues, a high bonnet meets a rather bubbly looking bumper. The two power bulges over the front wheels add to the incredibly chunky look.
In terms of the design there’s some cool features. ‘Venetian’ style graphics are bonded between the layers of glass in the rear three quarter windows. Large cladded wheel arches give an SUV style, along with roof rails which are standard across the range.
3D rear lights are becoming a Citroen hallmark, but the omission of the dent proof Airbumps is rather sad. There was no mention of them at all in any of the releases.
First, I headed out in the BlueHDi, which isn’t a dirty diesel at all. Up to 90% of NOx can be reduced with their DPF system, and it also eliminates 99.9% of nasty particulates.
This version was the 1.6 litre making 120 HP and 300Nm. 0-62 takes 10.7 seconds but feels sprightlier due to the masses of torque.
Starting at £19,720 this one had a fair few options, including Grip Control, Techno Hi-Fi pack (which sounded rather good), sparkly paint and a £950 opening panoramic roof. Total cost £22,690. Ouch.
Power wise the diesel was spot on. Having plenty of punch, it dealt just as well with around town driving as it did cruising up the motorway. It’s also pretty damn quiet too. Inside you’re really well shielded from the diesel grunt, but even on tick over from outside the derv is pretty muted.
Volvo, take note.
The gear shift is far better on the diesel than the petrol. It’s quite a short, precise shift. The petrol is rather more like the syrupy one found in the Peugeot 2008.
Also driving the 1.2 litre three cylinder PureTech 110. This makes 110 hp and 205 Nm of torque. It’s the same engine found in all manner of PSA Groupe cars. It’s well matched with the size and weight of the C3 Aircross, offering a 0-62 time of 11.3 seconds.
It’s a fair bit noisier than the diesel, thanks to its three cylinder set up, but it’s never massively intrusive.
Ride is supple, lumps, bumps, cracks and potholes are masked well. The Aircross stays composed and only a thud is heard beneath you.
Due to this the handling is on the softer side. It’s not wallowy, but there is controlled body lean in corners. Things can start to edge into the realm of floaty when pushing on down country lanes.
In reality, you’re never going to do this in a C3 Aircross. It’s a family wagon, and for that clientele the ride and handling is spot on.
Steering is also nice and direct, it gives you a sensation that everything in front of you is actually connected. You turn, and get a response straight away.
As a side note there’s a PureTech 82 engine. This is a 1.2 litre non-turbo. It does 0-62 in 15.9 seconds. Don’t even think about it, it’s just dangerous and no doubt why there were none available at the press launch.
It helps to get the low starting price, but that’s about all.
Inside the Aircross is a rather funky place to be. The air vents have a nice detail to them and you’ll find the familiar Citroen infotainment system with Mirrorlink capabilities built in. Everything in the test car had a red theme throughout, courtesy of the additional Urban Red Ambiance interior – £450. It gives you the nicer, darker seats and matching red details.
Plastics are easy on the eye, quality is good for the price, although the rear door trim is a little cheaper and scratchier.
The dash goes back for more than an arm’s length before it gets to the windscreen, it really feels as though there’s a lot of car in front of you. You’re safe and cocooned. You also get a glimpse of the bonnet bulges over each arch from the high seating position.
You’ll find the same seats as in the C3 and Cactus. Wide, almost armchair like, they’re ultra-comfy but lack lumbar support which can be annoying. The armrest on the driver’s seat is most welcome, sadly it’s only available as an option on even the top level trim.
Head and legroom is generous given the size of the Aircross, that taller, stout profile helps give a little more head height than the likes of the Hyundai Kona.
Boot space can increase to 520 litres, but only if you have the optional sliding rear seats at £350. Without the sliding bench, boot space is still a decent 410 litres.
Citroen have done a superb job replacing the old C3 Picasso. The stylish, chunky looks of the Aircross coupled with the spacious practicality of the interior will make it a sure fire winner with families.
A healthy engine choice and supple ride mean it’s a joy to drive over any distance.
It’s a shame some of the nicer options are only available in ‘packs’ and aren’t just standard fare. You really shouldn’t be paying an extra £250 for parking sensors and folding door mirrors, when you’re halfway through the trim range.
Likewise, £600 for front sensors, blind spot monitoring and park assist is a lot to ask in range topping ‘Flair’ trim.
Most C3 buyers plump for the top of the range, and Citroen feel the same will happen with the Aircross. It’s just a shame kit levels are a little low throughout.
Owner / Editor of Carwitter – French car fiend, hot hatch lover. Follow @car_witter