The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.5
The Citroen C3 Aircross is a comfortable car, soaking up most lumps and bumps with ease. It’s also extremely airy and spacious, with a funkily-styled interior and a big boot. At the same time, it’s very versatile and it’s possible to customise it to your heart’s content, thanks to myriad exterior and interior colour combinations. Overall, it’s a very competent and highly likeable family car.
Reasons to buy
- Airy cabin
- SUV looks and driving position
- Impressive luggage capacity
At a glance
Running costs for a Citroen C3 Aircross
While you can get a pretty cheap Citroen C3 Aircross with its entry-level engine, we’d recommend you go for a more powerful and more efficient turbocharged offering, which sits very competitively against rivals when it comes to purchase price. The competition is many and varied, but a crunch of the main running costs against Nissan’s Juke, Seat’s Arona and Hyundai’s Kona suggests little overall difference between them. The Citroen has impressive fuel economy, which will keep the costs down if you do higher mileage, but it does sit in a higher insurance group than the others. It doesn’t hold onto its value as well as the Hyundai or the Seat, either. That said, it should be pretty cheap to service, maintain and repair. Overall, its costs will likely be broadly in line with the competition.
Like almost every other manufacturer these days, Citroen offers servicing plans that allow you to budget for maintenance costs by paying in monthly installments rather than get hit with one big bill when you take your Aircross into your dealer for a spruce up.
Reliability of a Citroen C3 Aircross
Citroen doesn’t have a particularly brilliant record for reliability, sitting below the industry average score in the 2019 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study, and the C3 Aircross didn’t figure in the top three small SUVs (those being the Peugeot 2008 and Nissan Juke). Should anything go wrong with your C3 Aircross, Citroen offers a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, which is common across many of the rivals, but lags behind the five-year warranty offered by Hyundai in the Kona and the whopping seven-year warranty that Kia will give you on the Stonic.
Safety for a Citroen C3 Aircross
Along with the usual armoury of front, side and curtain airbags, and two rear Isofix child seat fittings, the Aircross is fitted with some nifty driving aids to help prevent a crash in the first instance. These include Lane Departure Warning and Speed Limit Recognition. A family pack, which also includes the sliding rear bench seat, brings additional safety kit including Active Safety Brake, which is an autonomous emergency braking system that’s designed to stop the car if it detects you're about to plough into an obstacle. It’s good that this is available, but newer cars are now including it as standard on all models, which the C3 Aircross does not.
How comfortable is the Citroen C3 Aircross
Despite its compact dimensions, the Citroen C3 Aircross immediately feels like a very spacious and airy vehicle. What’s more, the raised driving position and large glass area combine to provide excellent all-round visibility.
The wide, flat seats make the cabin feel much more accommodating and a lot wider than the tape measure suggests. Unfortunately, the seats lack lateral support, which you’ll notice the first time you come to a tight bend in the road.
The dashboard is punctuated by a wild mixture of coloured air vents and a centrally mounted touchscreen. This helps to reduce the number of buttons on the dash, but it’s frustrating that you have to access one of the screen menus just to adjust the cabin temperature. There’s a uniquely designed handbrake lever to help raise the wow factor, but that comes at the expense of central cupholders, which could be annoying on longer journeys.
The Aircross’ raised seating and large side windows means everyone gets a good view out, and there’s plenty of headroom. Rear legroom is decent, and there’s the option to boost your versatility if you go for one of the higher spec cars, which are available with a front seat that folds flat, and a sliding rear bench. Obviously, legroom suffers when you slide the rear bench forward, but the bonus comes in the shape of a boot that grows to 520 litres. The rear seat backs can be reclined, and they split 60/40, giving you even more versatility. If you’re having a garage clear out, you can fold them flat to get a big 1,289-litre space, and there’s a board in the boot that can be utilised to create a flat floor when the rear seats are folded. There’s also a handy slot in the floor to accommodate the parcel shelf when it’s not in use.
The C3 Aircross prioritises comfort over handling. You’ll hear a few underbody thuds after hitting a bump, but overall the Aircross soaks up beat-up surfaces with great efficiency. The softness of the suspension does mean you’ll experience some body lean when encountering roundabouts or tight bends, but never enough to make the kids feel queasy. The three-cylinder petrol model carries much less weight under the bonnet, which means it changes direction quicker and has a more accurate and informative steering connection than the heavier diesel models.
Features of the Citroen C3 Aircross
The entry-level Touch model has been discontinued since the car launched, so now the cheapest way into C3 Aircross ownership is the Feel trim, which runs on 16-inch alloy wheels. You also get a leather steering wheel, LED daytime running lights and fog lights that swivel with steering inputs. The 7.0-inch touchscreen gives you Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and cruise control is included too.
The Origins trim has dark tinted rear window and rear parking sensors, and rides on black 16-inch alloys. It also has automatic air-con, a central armrest and sat-nav.
Top spec Flair adds 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, reversing camera and a sliding rear bench.
Overall, there’s a decent amount of equipment available, although newer rivals like the Nissan Juke offer a few things, like LED headlights and some self-driving systems, that the Citroen doesn’t.
Power for a Citroen C3 Aircross
The three-cylinder 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine is available with either 110 or 131 horsepower. A previous, less powerful version has been discontinued, but the 110-horsepower should prove perky enough for most. It gets a bit rowdy when you rev it excessively, but it produces plenty of low-down grunt, so only when you encounter a stiff hill climb will you need to slot it down a couple of gears and rev it hard. It’s also available with a six-speed automatic gearbox to help take the strain out of that congested school-run/commute schlep. It’s a pretty smooth box of tricks with just the odd unexpected judder sometimes when it selects a higher gear. Its worst trait by far however is the selector lever, which is very stiff and notchy. It can be embarrassingly difficult to use when trying to change between drive modes, as you would when trying to exact a hasty three-point turn. The more powerful, 131-horsepower version comes only in top-spec Flair trim, with the auto gearbox.
There’s also 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel engine, with 99 horsepower, which we’ve yet to try. Previously, the C3 Aircross was available with a 120-horsepower version of this engine, which accelerated with plenty of conviction and was pretty smooth, albeit with a bit of vibration through the floor and the pedals as its accelerates up through the rev range.