Living with a… Citroen C3 Aircross

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First published: 5th July 2019
After six months living with a Ford Focus hatchback, I’ve now returned to the world of SUVs. Small SUVs are exploding in popularity, with all the major manufacturers producing at least one. The idea is that they provide the attractive points of a “traditional” SUV – space inside, a high driving position and a feeling of security – with a smaller footprint that won’t feel massive on British roads.

My new ride, then, is a Citroen C3 Aircross, and it’s an SUV that really stands out in a crowded marketplace. There’s no other small SUV that quite looks like this, with its chunky, bubbly styling and, in my case, bright Spicy Orange paintwork (a £520 option). I don’t think I’m ever going to lose it in a car park.

Like all versions of the C3 Aircross, mine comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen that features Apple CarPlay for plugging in my phone (and Android Auto too, if you’re that way inclined). This is an immediate plus for me, as I tend to use my phone’s navigation, podcast and music apps on the move far more than any of the built-in Citroen systems. But rest assured I’ll have a play with the proprietary stuff as well, to compare.

It also comes with automatic headlights and cruise control with a speed limiter – features that are increasingly vital in these days of average speed check cameras – as well as tinted rear windows and air conditioning.
Citroen C3 Aircross
This is the Flair trim, which is the higher of the two available on the Aircross (the other being Feel). That gives it several extra features, including keyless entry and start (open the door and start the engine without having to fiddle with a key) and 17-inch alloy wheels. It also has a rear-view camera and sat-nav, and a white roof, which is a no-cost option. I’m not sure how much I’ll need them, but the rear seats slide forward and backward to give either more boot space or more legroom for passengers.

I’ve got a few extras on my C3 Aircross, including the Techno HiFi Pack (£650), which gives me a head-up display that rises out of the dashboard and shows speed information, as well as a wireless charging tray for my phone and an improved sound system courtesy of a subwoofer and amplifier.

The Family Pack (£260) includes a front passenger seat that can fold completely flat, which could be useful for lugging things around, as well as an arm rest for the driver and automatic high beam on the headlights. This system will default to high beam at night unless it detects oncoming cars, traffic in front of you, or you’re in a built-up area.

Engine-wise, I’ve got the BlueHDI 100 manual, which is a 1.5-litre diesel with 100 horsepower. I’m a little worried that it might feel underpowered, but having said that, the grunt you get low down in the rev range in diesels may make up for the relatively low overall power. We’ll see. The manual gearbox is a six-speed.

My aim for my six months with the car is to see how well it fits into my general lifestyle. Having gone from a larger SUV to a pick-up truck to a hatchback in the past 18 months, this is something new. I did occasionally find with the Focus that I wanted more space, so perhaps an SUV will help that, while being easier on fuel and less bulky than the Kia Sportage I ran before. I generally do a lot of driving on my own, often for long distances on motorways, so fuel economy, ride quality and creature comforts will be important. I also carry bicycles and assorted related paraphernalia, so for that reason I’ve had some roof bars (£189) and a Thule bike carrier (£67) added.

The future then, for the next six months, is orange. Hopefully, it’ll also be bright.
Citroen C3 Aircross
Key specs:
-Model: Citroen C3 Aircross Flair S&S BlueHDi 100 manual
-List price: £20,885 MRRP
-Price as tested: £22,315
-Engine/gearbox: 1.5-litre turbodiesel, six-speed manual
-Power: 100 horsepower
-Torque: 300Nm
-Top speed: 114mph
-0-62mph: 10.8 seconds
-Economy: 54.4-63.07mpg combined (WLTP, claimed)
-CO2: 103-106g/km (WLTP)

Everything extra fitted to our long-termer:
-Metallic paint (£520)
-Techno HiFi Pack* (£650)
-Family Pack** (£260)
-Roof bars (£189)
-Bike carrier (£67)
*(Wireless charging, colour head-up display, 3.5-inch colour binnacle display, hifi radio with subwoofer and amplifer)
**(Fold-flat front passenger, front arm rest, automatic high beam assist, driver attention alert)

Interested in buying a Citroen C3 Aircross?