We met the brand-new Citroen C3 Aircross at its static launch in Dublin last month. First impressions of the car were very good. It's a slightly quirkier, bulkier, handier, version of the regular C3. The Citroen C3 itself is a good-looking vehicle, but first impressions of the Citroen C3 Aircross was that it was slightly more stylish.
Every time I get a test car, I always ask my kids their first impressions. No, I don't let my 8-year-old, or 4-year-old test drive the cars - that would be wrong, and probably end in tears - instead I ask them if they like the look of it, and what they think of the interior. My 4-year-old is more of a critic, and immediately he said he liked the car. The interior was to both of their liking, and the 8-year-old was disappointed when I said it was going back to the manufacturer.
Anyway, yep, I'm still pleased by the external qualities and looks of the Aircross. Initially I questioned Citroen as to why this car didn't benefit from Airbumps like the C4 Cactus or the C3 proper, and they told me that the doors were specifically designed to not hold the Airbumps. I'm over it already, the Aircross looks better not having them.
Inside feels typically spacious. I've always said it, Citroen know how to make a small interior feel bigger. The inside is full of light. The panoramic sunroof, which opens (worth noting because it's apparently the only one in its direct class that does this!), the thin A pillar, and the Perspex glass behind the C-Pillar really aid in sending buckets of light into the car.
The front seats are large and very comfortable, and the rear seats have a 60/40 split with both sides on rails that can be moved forward or back depending on your boot needs. The boot, which offers between 410 and 520 litres (depending on where you position the seats on those rails), is a good size for its segment. The front of our test vehicle had a charge pad, which is great, but unfortunately, this was in place of the coffee cup holders - which meant that I had to utilise the one behind my armrest, which proved to be awkward and slightly annoying. There was a place in the doors for cups, but I wouldn't have trusted it to keep my coffee from spilling out. This car also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which was not present in the last C3 we drove (I believe an update came to the C3 after our initial test drive).
Our test vehicle was powered by a 1.2 litre Puretech petrol engine. While this may be an award-winning engine, I do have to say that it was rather loud and initially I thought I had been handed a diesel. The engine, which is mated to a 5-speed gearbox offers 110hp, but it can feel sluggish, and if you're on a hill start, you will find that revs need to be higher than in other cars. On the road, there is body roll on corners, but in fairness, it's up against cars which suffer from the same type of issues. I will say that I found the Stonic to be better on the road when it comes to cornering. The suspension is nice though and I didn't find the ride to be bumpy at all. A nice touch is “Grip Control” in this front wheel drive machine. This aids with driving on sand, snow and all-road – however, I wouldn’t be going around any serious off-road courses. The grip control, which we’ve seen before in the Peugeot 3008 is a nice touch and should aid you get up icy roads.
All-in, the Citroen C3 Aircross is a nice little car. Nope, it's not the best driver's car I’ve ever driven, however it's comfortable and potential owners will be pleased by that. For driving dynamics, I'd prefer the Stonic, but for interior comfort and quirky design, I think the C3 Aircross has a lot going for it. Our test model was top of the range “Flair” trim with added options, the price came to just over €25k. However, entry level "Touch" models start from €20,695. All manual models have 5-speed gearboxes, but the automatic versions are mated to 6-speed boxes.