With 85 different colour combinations, it’s easy to put your own personal stamp on the C3 Aircross. There are three richly-equipped trims, a choice of engines and transmissions and all sorts to colour packs to jazz up this snazzy compact SUV.
The goodFun, funky and an ultra-modern option in segment
The badSome hard plastic that may scratch easily
Citroen C3 Aircross – first drive (2017)
Just imagine being able to personalise your compact SUV so it really stands out from the crowd. Well, that’s exactly what Citroen is offering with its all-new C3 Aircross model.
Yes, it’s yet another compact SUV to go on sale in an already overcrowded sector, but it supersedes the somewhat dated C3 Picasso model in the French company’s line-up and offers a vibrant, bright and feature-rich option for buyers.
C3 Aircross is priced from just £13,999 and there are three trim levels to choose from called Touch, Feel and Flair. In addition, there are six powertrains – four petrol and two diesel – along with manual or auto gearboxes delivering carbon emissions from as low as 104g/km.
But it’s the fabulous array of colours along with mix-and match variations that are the real headline story here. There are eight body colours, three roof shades and four colour packs that introduce lots of snazzy exterior trim. And when all the different permutations are added up a total of 85 colour combinations are available and that’s before you venture inside where there is one standard trim with four colour options to choose from.
Citroen claims that the Aircross offers customers the best of both worlds thanks to its SUV-styling on the outside with a punchy, eye-catching design, combined with all the versatility and practicality of an MPV on the inside.
Eye-catching features include 16 or 17-inch wheels, a floating roof, a skid plate, 3D-effect rear lights, moulded wheel arches, roof bars, robust bumpers and an expressive front end with two-tiered lighting including LED daytime running lights.
The interior gives off great vibes too with a clutter-free cabin boasting plenty of creature comforts and an ultra-modern appearance. On-board technology is plentiful and includes full connectivity as standard via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a seven-inch touchscreen, a six speaker sound system with DAB radio, Bluetooth and, depending on the trim level, Citroen Connect Digital Navigation, a colour head up display, automatic dual zone air conditioning, automatic lights and wipers and plenty more besides.
When it comes to space and practicality, the C3 Aircross excels with a boot capacity of 410 litres that can be increased to 1,289 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. There is a double boot floor and the vehicle can accommodate items up to 2.4 metres in length. The rear seats are worthy of a mention too as they can slide up to 15cms and recline in four positions. The car offers best-in-class legroom for back seat passengers.
Safety is paramount on any family SUV and the C3 Aircross covers all bases with up to 12 driver aids to help protect occupants and other road users alike. Systems include blind spot monitoring, fatigue alert, park assist, lane departure warning system, speed limit recognition, automatic high beam assist, active safety braking and the option of Grip Control with hill descent assist.
We tested out two models – one petrol and one diesel – and they each showed their own individual character and charm.
First up was the 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol model in Feel grade with S&S priced at £16,200 (£19,120 with options fitted). This car could sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 11.3 seconds, topped out at 115mph and can deliver combined fuel economy of 56.5mpg with carbon emissions of 115g/km.
The test car looked amazing with its Soft Sand paintwork with black roof, complemented by an orange exterior colour pack that added bright orange roof rails, light surrounds, door mirrors and a striped rear quarter-light. The interior is equally bright and modern with funky orange trim around the air vents, steering wheel and seats.
The elevated driving position results in excellent all-round visibility although I did find the patterned rear window was less transparent than normal. The three-cylinder engine was certainly spirited and whizzed up one of the longest, steepest hills in the Cotswolds with the utmost of ease. The acceleration through the 5-speed manual gearbox was also smooth and responsive and there was a constant stream of power on tap.
The road-holding was excellent and the steering precise with ample driver feedback meaning the car can be thrown into bends with a degree of confidence. And it has to be driven pretty hard before any engine or road surface noise becomes an issue.
One feature I found a little impractical were the shallow cup holders. I had a small bottle of water in one and it fell out within 10 seconds of driving up a slight incline. I don’t think I would confidently carry a hot coffee on the move. But that aside, the car was a delight to buzz around in.
Next up was the 1.6-diesel 120PS diesel model in range-topping Flair trim with six-speed manual gearbox. This car started at £19,720, but a few options bumped the cost up to £22,690. It could sprint from 0 to 62mph in 10.7 seconds and topped out at 114mph. It can achieve combined fuel efficiency of 68.9mpg with CO2 emissions of 107g/km.
Once again this C3 Aircross proved to be great fun to drive and coped with a variety of roads. It was comfortable cruising at motorway speeds and beautifully nimble when pottering through busy town centres.
The diesel model was a little noisier but the ride did feel slightly more refined at times and it’s worth remembering that it does bring with it the impressive fuel efficiency.
All in all the Citroen C3 Aircross is another worthy contender for sales in a sector bursting with choice. It is built on the same platform as the Vauxhall Crossland X which doesn’t look as attractive and the Peugeot 3008 which seems more mature in its approach and design. So, it will be up to the customer to create a ‘for’ and ‘against’ check-list and tick away.