What is it?
The C3 Aircross is Citroen’s offering in the small SUV segment.
With its tallboy looks, distinctive styling and three pot power plant it has a truckload of character.
And, although you may laugh, we reckon it bears more than a passing comparison with the Mini Countryman.
Obviously, the C3 is’nt be everybody’s cup of tea, but the more we drive this car the more we come to appreciate it.
What’s it cost?
C3 Aircross is priced from $32,990 plus on-roads and these days there’s two models: Shine and Launch Edition.
Confusingly, both are priced the same, although Launch Edition adds Metro grey fabric, a large opening glass roof in a combination of White and Passion Red paint job.
But if you get in quick you can get one for $29,990 driveaway, which comes with five-year free servicing until the end of November.
Aircross shares a platform and engine with cousin the Peugeot 2008, but they have little in common apart from that.
The Citroen is all about customisation and to that end is available with no less than 33 colour combinations, including nine body with three contrasting roof colours.
Other eye candy includes two-tier lights, chunky roof rails, venetian-look rear side windows and contrasting grey bump plates front and back.
An Accent pack is also available for the roof rails, headlight surrounds, exterior mirrors, and the wheel centre caps.
Inside the emphasis is on spaciousness, modular design and brightness, with funky white embellishments for the air vents.
Standard kit includes cloth trim and single zone climate air conditioning.
There’s also daytime LEDs, automatic lights and wipers, along with an auto dimming rear vision mirror.
You also get a form of auto parking, front and rear parking sensors, 360-degree overhead camera, cruise control with speed limiter, wireless phone charging and a 7.0-inch touchscreen that offers navigation, digital radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto.
Five star safety includes front, side and curtain airbags, rear-view camera, Auto Emergency Braking (AEB), Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, Automatic high-beam and Driver Attention Alert (DAA3).
What’s it go like?
As mentioned previously it’s powered by a three cylinder engine.
But then so too is the Mini we mentioned — and no one pokes fun at it, right?
The 1.2-litre PureTech e-THP 110 turbo-petrol engine is an award-winner.
The three pot produces 81kW of power and 205Nm of torque, the latter from a low 1500 revs.
It’s paired with a Japanese Aisin 6-speed auto, with drive to the front wheels.
You can change gears manually using the gear lever, but alas there’s no gear change paddles.
Because the torque is produced low and early in the rev range, the car gets going early.
But the transmission tends to become a bit dozy once you’re in top gear and up and running.
There’s some initial scrabble from the front wheels as they look for bite, but that soon goes away.
Pushing the magic ‘S’ button located at the front of the centre console works wonders.
S of course stands for Sport mode, but unlike most sport modes this one is not frenzied.
It seems to add about 500 revs to the proceedings making the car much more tractable and responsive.
Of course keeping it there is likely to push up fuel consumption, but hey you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Switching to manual mode and changing gears yourself offers the ultimate control, but Sport mode is not far behind.
The car sits tall, sitting higher than any hatch or sedan, with large door openings that make getting in and out easy.
The driver’s seat is height adjustable, and the steering wheel is also reach and height adjustable.
But the seats have shortish bottoms and aren’t that comfortable, better suited to short trips than country drives.
The dash, though interesting to the eye, with many textures and treatments, is all hard plastic and solid to the touch.
A button starts the engine which prompts a flip-up heads-up display to unfold above the instruments displaying the car’s speed and current speed limit.
Drive selection is accomplished via a gated style change that feels notchy and fiddly.
A small lighted panel confirms shift position, but is almost hidden, with buttons either side for sport and snow modes.
The console includes a wireless phone charging pad, but it was a fraction small for our phones and required some juggling to activate.
It also made the phones overheat.
Suspension is Mac strut, coil springs with hydraulic dampers at the front, with a deformable cross member, coil springs, hydraulic dampers at the rear.
It rides on 17-inch alloys with Bridgestone 215/50 series rubber.
The ride is fine most of the time, but becomes a little jiggly at other times.
It won’t be an issue if you stick to well formed roads but tyre noise and harshness quickly intrude on secondary roads.
Because it sits tall the high centre of gravity has an impact on handling, with a bit of axle skip if you push hard enough.
But hey, it’s not a sports car.
The steering is quite sensitive and it is not a good idea to take your eyes off the road, otherwise you could find yourself off the road.
The brakes can be touchy too.
Speaking of off road, the Aircross is by definition an SUV and as such designed to go off road (yeah, right), we wouldn’t be straying too far from the blacktop in this one.
Surprisingly, although it is equipped with auto emergency braking, it doesn’t offer adaptive cruise control.
For some reason, alternating between cruise and speed limiter works in the opposite direction to a Peugeot?
With a 45-litre tank and rated at 6.6L/100km, we were getting 7.2L/100km after about 400km.
And keep in mind it takes premium 95 unleaded.
There’s plenty of legroom in the back and a good-sized boot hides a space saver spare.
But you’ll find only one small drink holder between the seats.
What we like?
- Fashionably French
- Fun to drive
- Zippy performance
- Low fuel consumption
What we don’t like?
- Uncomfortable seats
- Fiddly gear selector
- Harsh ride over back roads
- Where’s smart cruise control?
The bottom line?
The Citroen C3 Aircross has much to offer if you give it a chance.
It’s eye-catching, well equipped, fun to drive and doesn’t use much gas.
What’s more it comes with a reassuring 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty.
Citroen C3 Aircross, priced from $32,990
- Looks - 7.5/107.5/10
- Performance - 7.5/107.5/10
- Safety - 8/108/10
- Thirst - 8/108/10
- Practicality - 8/108/10
- Comfort - 7/107/10
- Tech - 7.5/107.5/10
- Value - 8/108/10