Citroen C3 Aircross Review 2022

heycar editorial team

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heycar editorial team

Citroen C3 Aircross
Citroen C3 Aircross

1/10

1 / 10

00/10
heycar rating
"Quirky but flawed little SUV"
  • Launched: 2017
  • Small SUV
  • Petrol, Diesel

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Quick overview

Pros

  • Very versatile small SUV with bags of interior space
  • Lots of character with some excellent interior touches
  • Cheap to buy and run

Cons

  • Noisy cabin at speed
  • You’ll need a top-spec Flair for most of the desirable features
  • Rivals like the SEAT Arona and Ford Puma are nicer to drive

Overall verdict

On the inside

Driving

Cost to run

Prices and Specs

Common questions

Overall verdict on the Citroen C3 Aircross

"The Citroen C3 Aircross is like a east london warehouse conversion – relatively cheap, practical and roomy, but also cool. It doesn't drive like a tin-roofed storage facility thankfully and the PureTech petrol is peachy if you want a grunty motor that sips fuel."

Citroen C3 Aircross Review 2022 front

Citroen's C3 Aircross small SUV is its rival to the likes of the Nissan Juke and Ford Puma. But the C3 Aircross majors in comfort rather than keen handling. Launched in 2017, it was given a mid-life refresh in 2021 to keep it up to date. Our 2022 Citroen C3 Aircross review will see if it's still worthy of your consideration. 


It's the lightest of updates with a customary new (and more angular) face being the most obvious change to the Citroen C3 Aircross. All models now get LED headlights – a night and day change (pardon the pun) over the old halogens, Citroen said – new paint finishes (Khaki Grey, Voltaic Blue and Polar White), new wheel designs and new exterior colour packs. 


The lineup changed, so out go the C3 Aircross Touch, Feel and Flair models and in come (in ascending order of specification) Citroen C3 Aircross C-Series, Shine and Shine Plus.


Get inside and you'll find the Citroen C3 Aircross C-Series models are the only ones to get a 7-inch infotainment screen, with the rest of the range getting a nine-inch version. 


But, whatever model you go for, you'll discover the Aircross's cabin is a curvy, colourful and quirky contrast to the more staid-but-intuitive cabin you'll find in a Volkswagen T-Cross. Changes, meanwhile, are reserved to a new centre console with additional storage that'll swallow smaller valuables and is lidded in all but the C-Series version. 


In truth, Citroen didn't have to change much because the C3 Aircross brief is to eek out lots of space from a relatively small body and it already does that pretty well. There's room for four tall adults in there and the back seats slides backwards and forwards so you can balance between boot space and passenger room. Slide the seats as far forward as they'll go and boot capacity sits at a healthy 520 litres.


The Citroen C3 Aircross even drives practically. The front pillar around the windscreen is thick but otherwise you get a great view out, the steering is light in town and direct at speed and while the car does roll a little in bends, it's not over the top. 


What's more annoying is that the suspension can get caught out by smaller bumps and ripples in the road, something even the thickly padded Advanced Comfort seats can't hide. There's also quite a lot of road noise at 70mph.


The highlight of the drive in the Citroen C3 Aircross is undoubtedly the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine, which has diesel-like torque and comparable efficiency. You can have it in two flavours – 110PS with a six-speed manual or 130PS with a six-speed automatic – the 110PS model feels just as quick making it the pick even if you do have to put up with a long-throw, notchy gear shit mated to a springy clutch. The 110PS diesel, the only other engine, is agricultural by comparison but returns 62mpg to the petrol's 57mpg. 


It feels like the wrong fit for family car that's so overtly cheerful, but is the C3 Aircross the right fit for you? If you need a frugal family car that has plenty of space and you value French flair over German efficiency we would say yes, it is. It proves that a boring family car doesn't have to be, well, boring. 

Is the 2022 Citroen C3 Aircross right for you?

If you want a quirky and interesting car that’s not going to break the bank to buy or run, the Citroen C3 Aircross is a good choice. It’s more practical than the equivalent Citroen C3 hatchback and its cabin feels very spacious (especially if you avoid the panoramic sunroof).


The Citroen C3 Aircross's quirky interior colour combinations will appeal to a wide audience and, although it’s not entirely successful in its execution, we like its comfort-focused approach to driving. There are better cars for long distance drivers, though, and anyone who wants a car that’s sporty to drive should look elsewhere.

What’s the best Citroen C3 Aircross model/engine to choose?

We’d recommend the top-spec Citroen C3 Aircross Shine Plus, otherwise you’re missing out on desirable features like the bold interior trims, versatile sliding rear bench and fold-flat front seat. 


Engine wise, the Puretech 110PS petrol engine gets our vote because it's cheaper than the 130PS version, with little penalty towards performance. Avoid the diesel unless you absolutely must have the most efficient engine available. Also be careful not to land yourself with one of the very slow 82PS petrols which were only offered for a short time - they’re extremely slow.

What other cars are similar to the Citroen C3 Aircross?

The Skoda Kamiq is another small SUV that takes a similar approach, prioritising practicality and comfort - but it didn’t go on sale until a while after the C3 Aircross, so might cost more money on the used market. 


You could also consider a Renault Captur (the new model launched in 2020 is much better) or a Peugeot 2008 (again, we rate the 2020 model highly). Other rivals range from the Vauxhall Crossland X and Mazda CX-3 to the Kia Stonic and Nissan Juke. Also consider the new Ford Puma, although the EcoSport is to be avoided.

Comfort and design: Citroen C3 Aircross interior

"The Citroen C3 Aircross has a refreshingly quirky and interesting cabin. It feels more like a trendy living room than a used car, with ‘squircle’ air vents and a textured dashboard."

Citroen C3 Aircross Review 2022 interior and cabin

There are four interior ambiances to choose from with the Citroen C3 Aircross, each changing the seat upholstery, dashboard textures, door panel designs and various touches of colour across the centre console, steering wheel, air vents and seat backs.


Sadly, the most desirable (and colourful) interior ambiances are only available on high-spec models. While the rather drab grey cloth seats in Shine models will be perfectly acceptable in other cars, Citroen makes such a big deal out of the quirky customisation options in the C3 Aircross that it’s a shame they’re only available on the top-spec Shine Plus.


Pleasingly, the C3 Aircross has the high-up seating position desired by buyers of cars like this. You’re not going to get a particularly high view of the road, but you do sit in a more conventional position (like an armchair) than you would in a low-down hatchback. That makes access easier if your joints aren’t as bendy as they once were.


The squidgy seats are very comfortable thanks to extra padding, while they’re also wider than most. Unfortunately, they do lack a bit of support, meaning you might notice a bit of back ache on long journeys.

Quality and finish

Top-spec Citroen C3 Aircross Shine Plus models get a bold and interesting cabin with various personalisation options, and they’re guaranteed to catch your eye in a showroom next to something like a SEAT Arona.


While it generally feels well finished, some of the plastics in the Citroen C3 Aircross seem rather cheap and nasty, particularly around the door panels, glove box and lower half of the dashboard. There are no soft-touch materials here, just hard plastics. 


The various switches and buttons (like those for the electric windows or used for adjusting the volume of the radio) are fine but don’t feel as tactile as those in a Volkswagen T-Cross, for example.


On the plus side, the C3 Aircross’s cabin feels well up to the job of deflecting day-to-day wear and tear. Those harsh plastics will still be looking exactly the same well after the car’s serviceable life, and the seat materials ought to wear well, too. Same goes for the leather-covered steering wheel and gear knob.

All Citroen C3 Aircross models come with a 7-inch touchscreen media system which will be familiar to anyone who’s driven any recent car from Peugeot-Citroen.


It’s a weak point, unfortunately. Not only is it slow to respond, a shortage of physical buttons (apart from the volume control) means you’ll end up jabbing at the screen on the move.


Even adjusting the climate control requires a concerted effort to negotiate the infotainment system. To do so, you’ll have to leave whatever it is you previously had displayed, just to change the temperature. Woe betide any passenger who decides they’re cold while the driver’s relying on the nav system at a tricky intersection.


Talking of navigation, that’s only available on the Flair. This is no great loss, though, as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the range. Plug your phone in and third-party apps like Google Maps or Waze will do a better job of providing directions, anyway.

Space and practicality: Citroen C3 Aircross boot space

Unlike a lot of cars in this class, the C3 Aircross is significantly more spacious than the hatchback on which it’s based. That’s good news if you’re wanting to carry passengers and luggage or just want an airy cabin.


There’s plenty of legroom in the front of the Citroen C3 Aircross, although the high seating position does hinder headroom for the tallest of drivers - especially if you buy a C3 Aircross with the optional panoramic sunroof fitted.


There’s also a load of useful storage areas, including door bins big enough to carry 1.5-litre bottles and generously large cup holders. As is often the case in right-hand-drive versions of French cars, the glove box is annoyingly small, due to the pesky fuse box.


In the back, you can just about squeeze three cooperative adults side by side. There isn’t a lump in the floor for a transmission tunnel like some rivals, so the middle-seat passenger will have somewhere to rest their feet - although they will be rubbing shoulders, particularly if they’re of chunky build.


As exciting as it sounds, the boot is one of the best features of the C3 Aircross. As standard, it can accommodate 410 litres of luggage - more than the Skoda Kamiq and Hyundai Kona, although not quite as much as the Nissan Juke and Ford Puma. It has got a trick up its sleeve, though.


The rear bench on the Citroen C3 Aircross Shine Plus can recline as well as slide backwards and forwards, providing up to 520 litres of luggage space with it as far forward as possible. If you need more room, it can drop to provide up to 1289 litres.


With the rear bench in place, the boot is still very versatile thanks to its false floor and useful shape. There’s little in the way of a lip, making loading easier. Underneath the floor, there’s a spacesaver spare wheel which is included as standard on all C3 Aircross models.


The external dimensions of the Citroen C3 Aircross are pretty typical for a small SUV. It measures 4155mm long, 1765mm wide (with the door mirrors folded) and 1637mm high.

Handling and ride quality: What is the Citroen C3 Aircross like to drive?

"The Citroen C3 Aircross is at its best around town, where the high seating position, light steering and soft suspension makes it a delight to dart about in. The top-spec Shine Plus comes with rear parking sensors and a reversing camera - both of which are useful when squeezing into tight spaces."

Citroen C3 Aircross Review 2022 rear three quarter

It does well on the open road too. The steering is surprisingly direct and there's only a hint of the floaty feeling you get in the C4 Cactus. While it skips over potholes and bumps in the road, smaller surface changes unsettle it and it can be quite noisy on the motorway. 


Despite the increase in ground clearance over the C3 hatchback, giving the Citroen C3 Aircross the appearance of an off-roader, you can’t buy a four-wheel-drive version. If you’re expecting to drive in challenging conditions (such as snowy roads or muddy fields), look for one with the optional Grip Control fitted.


This allows you to select from various drive modes (including snow, mud and sand), optimising the traction control for these conditions. It's actually very effective and also comes with Hill Descent Assist, controlling your speed down steep slopes and allowing you to leave the braking to the car and concentrate on steering.


What engines and gearboxes are available in the Citroen C3 Aircross

The 1.2-litre Puretech 110 petrol is by far the most popular engine in the C3 Aircross. It’s quite a punchy little three-cylinder unit, although its 10.1 second 0-62mph time means it’s not going to win a drag races any time soon. It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox which is fine, aside from the springy clutch and baggy gear change. 


The same engine was originally available with just 82PS and it was glacially slow, taking an incredible 16.3 seconds to reach 62mph. Unless you’re a new driver and desperate for affordable insurance, avoid the C3 Aircross with this engine. Citroen dropped it from the range in 2019 but there are quite a few on the used market.


If you want an auto gearbox, the more powerful Puretech 130PS engine comes as standard with a six-speed automatic transmission. Look for one of these if it’s within budget - the auto transmission is better than the manual, with rapid enough responses, and the extra potency of the 130PS engine helps with motorway driving.


Should you want a diesel, Citroen offers the C3 Aircross with a BlueHDi 100 engine and manual gearbox. This is a rare option so it may take some hunting around dealers to find one - and you’ll pay a premium for it too, which will offset any savings you’ll make in fuel economy. That’s unless you cover mega mega miles, in which case you probably want to look at something bigger than the C3 Aircross.


Refinement and noise levels

The Citroen C3 Aircross isn't a particularly quiet cruiser with plenty of road noise even if you stick rigidly to the legal limit, which seems to be amplified by the relatively large passenger cavity. On the upside, you'll struggle to make out any wind or engine noise over the drone. On the latter, the PureTech petrol engines make a nice enough thrum under acceleration, while the diesel is relatively muted getting up to speed. 

Safety equipment: How safe is the Citroen C3 Aircross

If there’s one thing the C3 Aircross isn’t short of, it’s safety assistance features. Look for cars with the safety pack (a £600 option when new) or drive assistant pack (£450) if you want all the latest safety and drive-assist tech.


Still, with or without these features, the C3 Aircross is fundamentally a very safe car. When Euro NCAP crash tested it in 2017, it awarded it a maximum five out of five stars. It was awarded 85% for the adult occupancy test, with NCAP praising the protection of both drivers and passengers in a variety of collisions.


It scored 82% for child occupants, helped by the ISOFIX points on the outer rear seats (although they’re missing on the front passenger seat) plus 64% pedestrian impact protection and 60% for safety assist features (mainly criticising the lack of an autonomous emergency braking system as standard).


Strangely, Citroen doesn’t offer the C3 Aircross with its ConnectedCam. This is a built-in dash camera which made its debut on the C3 and can be quite a useful tool.


MPG and fuel costs: What does a Citroen C3 Aircross cost to run?

"Although the Citroen C3 Aircross shouldn’t cost a fortune to run, its engines aren’t quite as efficient as many rivals in official WLTP fuel economy tests. The popular Puretech 110PS returns a combined 44.8mpg which is acceptable (rather than outstanding), while this drops to 42.8mpg from the Puretech 130 with the automatic gearbox."

Citroen C3 Aircross Review 2022 panning

Of course, if you’re after frugality, look for a BlueHDi 100 diesel. This officially returns 58.9mpg, although you’ll have to cover quite a lot of miles to balance out the higher purchase price.

How reliable is a Citroen C3 Aircross?

Unfortunately, we've heard of a number of issues with the Citroen C3 Aircross. Faults reported include high oil consumption from the 1.2-litre Puretech engine, gremlins with the infotainment system and corroded rear brakes.


As a brand, Citroen seems to be improving in terms of reliability, but it performed poorly in the latest HonestJohn.co.uk Satisfaction Index.

VED car tax: What is the annual road tax on a Citroen C3 Aircross

None of the C3 Aircross models are particularly lairy, so all should be affordable to insure. The Puretech 130PS has the highest rating, which is worth bearing in mind if you’re considering an auto - especially if you’re a new driver.


There’s nothing massively surprising about these insurance ratings. Buying a C3 Aircross shouldn’t alarm your insurance company but it’s always worth shopping around for quotes.

VED car tax: What is the annual road tax on a Citroen C3 Aircross

All Citroen C3 Aircross models have been registered since the latest vehicle tax rules were introduced in April 2017 - meaning they’ll be subject to the standard flat rate of VED. There’s no way around this unless you look for an electric alternative like the Hyundai Kona Electric.

How much should you be paying for a used Citroen C3 Aircross?

"Unless you’re on a really tight budget, we reckon it’s worth hunting out a top-of-the-range C3 Aircross Shine Plus for all the advantages that brings."

Citroen C3 Aircross Review 2022 boot space

You can buy a pre-registered example (that means it’s practically brand new) with the Puretech 110 engine for around £16,500 - representing a saving of more than £3500. A nearly-new Puretech 130 in Shine trim will cost you around £19,000 - nearly £4000 off list.


If you’re on more of a budget, a two-year-old example with average miles will set you back around £11,000 in Flair trim with the Puretech 110 engine, while Feel models start from around £2000 less.


Diesels are harder to find and attract a premium, with nearly-new models starting from around £17,000 in Flair specification. Two-year-old diesels start at roughly £12,000.

Trim levels and standard equipment

The Citroen C3 Aircross range kicks off with the C-Series model which gets smart exterior looks thanks to its 16-inch wheels, Regal Red colour pack, roof bars and tinted rear windows. It gets a seven-inch infotainment screen, alarm, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors and rear parking sensors. 


The Citroen C3 Aircross Shine gets black exterior highlights, automatic emergency brakes and a larger nine-inch touchscreen that has built-in sat-nav.


C3 Aircross Shine Plus models are found at the top of the range and can be identified by their 17-inch wheels and two-tone paint job. Inside, they get leather effect upholstery, Citroen's Advanced Comfort seats, a rear bench that slides forwards and backwards and a front seat that folds flat for carrying longer items. You also get useful extra kit including keyless go, front parking sensors and a rearview camera.


Pre-facelift cars – so models built up until spring 2021 – were available in Feel, C-Series (a special edition at the time) and Flair. 


The entry-level Citroen C3 Aircross Feel is fairly basic, with highlights including 16-inch alloy wheels, manual air con, automatic headlights, rear electric windows, cruise control and electric rear windows among its arsenal.


The special edition Citroen C3 Aircross C-Series adds black alloy wheels (still 16-inch), automatic air conditioning, rear parking sensors and automatic lights/wipers, Graphite grey interior with white stitching and the Regal Red colour pack.


The top-spec Citroen C3 Aircross Flair, which is the one to go for, includes the useful sliding rear bench, a reversing camera, navigation, a body-coloured roof, 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, a pull-out boot floor and keyless entry/start.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

Is the Citroen C3 Aircross an SUV?

The Citroen C3 Aircross combines the best features of a hatchback with an SUV. It has raised suspension, but not a four-wheel-drive system, instead it relies on Grip Control which helps the front tyres find purchase on terrain including sand, mud and snow.

Phil Hall

Answered by

Phil Hall

How much is a brand new Citroen C3 Aircross?

The Citroen C3 Aircross costs from £17,320 for a 110PS petrol in C-Series trim rising to £23,080 for a top-of-the-range 130PS petrol Citroen C3 Aircross Shine Plus. We would recommend the 110PS petrol Shine Plus which has a list price of £21,500.

Dan Harrison

Answered by

Dan Harrison

Is the Citroen C3 Aircross a good car?

The Citroen C3 Aircross is a good car if you're looking for a quirkily styled hatchback that has plenty of room for you, your other half and the kids. The driving experience focuses on comfort and its best sampled with the 110PS PureTech petrol engine which is nippy and cheap to run.

David Ross

Answered by

David Ross

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