2019 Citroen C3 Aircross Review
Toby Hagon’s 2019 Citroen C3 Aircross Review With Price, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict And Score.
In a nutshell: Citroen’s return to the SUV space comes in the form of the compact C3 Aircross, which combines peppy performance with a fun demeanour, albeit one with notable flaws.
2019 Citroen C3 Aircross Specifications
Price $32,990+ORC Warranty 5 years unlimited km Service Intervals 12 months, 15,000km Safety Not rated Engine 1.2-litre 3-cylinder turbo Power 81kW at 5500rpm Torque 205Nm at 1500rpm Transmission 6-speed automatic Drive Front-wheel drive Dimensions 4154mm (L), 1824mm (W), 1637mm (H), 2604mm (WB) Kerb Weight 1203kg Towing 840kg Boot Space 410L Spare Space saver. Fuel Tank 45L Thirst 6.6L/100km
Watch our first drive video review of the Citroen C3 Aircross.
Citroen is a very small player in the Australian car market, but the French brand is hoping to step things up with the arrival of the C3 Aircross
Marking the return of an SUV to the Citroen line-up, the compact C3 Aircross goes head to head with the likes of the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Nissan Qashqai and Toyota C-HR.
With a single model priced towards the premium end of the small SUV segment it’s unlikely to radically swing most buyers, but it comes with aspirations of attracting those wanting something that stands out in traffic and exudes some French flair.
What’s in the range and how much does it cost? It’s all about keeping it simple with the C3 Aircross, which is sold in a single model in Australia (expect special editions down the track). It has a 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine driving the front wheels.
The rest of the package is relatively well specified, helping justify the $32,990 price tag that is towards the pointy end of the small SUV category. Standard fare includes 17-inch alloy wheels, smart key entry and start (only off the front doors), auto wipers and headlights, a head-up display and a 7.0-inch touchscreen incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There’s also wireless smartphone charging (helping offset the single USB charger) and a reversing camera with a 180-degree function that gives an additional pseudo-overhead view. The only standard colour is white, although it gets some orange highlights on the roof rails and mirrors to snazz things up a tad. Any other colour – including contrasting roof options – adds $590.
What’s the cabin like? There are some interesting materials smattered around the cabin, from the smooth matte grey dash top to the textured seat material and scalloped door skins. As with the exterior, Citroen has also gone mad with “squircles” (squares and rectangles with rounded corners) in an effort to spice up the look. That also accounts for the stripes on the rear side windows, which are made of plastic rather than glass. It’s all about injecting some fun into a type of car that’s usually more about functionality.
Elsewhere, though, there are plenty of sensibilities, including the tall body that offers plenty of space by small SUV standards. Plus, it provides the requisite high ride height, something more pronounced in the front passenger seat than the driver’s seat; without height adjustment, that passenger seat is noticeably higher – almost uncomfortably so – than the driver’s seat. While there are various storage spaces, the only cupholders are in the door pockets, meaning the morning coffee won’t be within easy reach.
What are the front seats like? The front seats are lacking in side support, the emphasis more on the plush centre section than keeping you locked in place.
What are the back seats like? They have a relatively low back rest and little in the way of sculpture, making for a flat, unsupportive bench. But leg and head room is surprisingly good by small SUV standards, providing acceptable space for adults. There’s no arm rest or air vents, though, making it more short-term accommodation. And three across the rear would be a stretch courtesy of the narrow cabin; that’s perhaps why the centre seatbelt is mounted in the roof.
What’s the boot space like? The boot is fairly short, although there’s a false floor allowing smaller items to be separated from mere luggage. Or you can remove that separator for a 445-litre cavity.
What are the controls and infotainment like? There’s some traditional thinking with the analogue instruments, which look a tad old school given the funkiness elsewhere. A digital trip computer incorporating a digital speedo adds some modernity, as does the flip-up head-up display that places the speedo closer to your line of sight; it also throws up the speed limit or, at least, the latest limit spotted by the forward-facing camera.
The central 7.0-inch infotainment screen has a volume knob for easy adjustment of noise levels but is otherwise clunky in its operation, mainly because Citroen has tried to pack too much in. You can’t adjust the ventilation, for example, without first pressing a menu button on the side of the screen. Taking that alone out of the centre screen would make it nicer to operate.
It also pays to get used to the cruise control stalk before you start moving. It’s partially hidden by the steering wheel, so it’s more about touch than sight.
What’s the performance like? On paper the C3 Aircross makes modest numbers. Power from the 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo peaks at just 81kW. But it makes up plenty of points with its thoroughly accessible torque. Again, the peak is modest at 205Nm, but it’s available from just 1500rpm, ensuring effortless response around town.
Even cruising at 100km/h is done easily, the engine ticking over around 2000rpm. The little triple also has a lovely character, its muted thrum kicking in as revs rise. Really, though, it’s the low and middle engine revs that are the most useful, a usable effervescence always on tap.
The six-speed automatic is also well suited to the vehicle, the tuning ensuring it lopes into taller gears when driven gently, leaning on that torque. Again, it’s no fireball, but it’s a pleasant device that deals admirably with suburban duties. Claimed fuel use is 6.6 litres per 100km and it calls for premium unleaded.
What’s it like on the road? Everything is light and responsive, from the steering to the brakes, something that makes the Aircross very city friendly. Easy, then, for zipping through tight streets and negotiating carparks. There’s also a surprising solidity when pitched at corners, the suspension dealing admirably with bumps and Bridgestone rubber convincing.
Large bumps have the rear suspension initially fighting to contain the rebound, although things are quelled quickly enough. There’s the occasional wisp of wind noise and the tyres can roar on rougher bitumen surfaces, but it’s otherwise quiet enough inside.
Does it have a spare? There’s a spare tyre which is smaller than the ones fitted to the car, in turn limiting the recommended top speed to 80km/h when it’s in use.
Can you tow with it? The Citroen is designed to tow just light loads, with a rated maximum capacity of 840kg.
What about ownership? The C3 Aircross is covered by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing must be performed every 12 months or 15,000km and the first five check-ups will set you back $2727.39 (nothing like accuracy…). That price reduces to about $2455 if you pay for the servicing up front.
What safety features does it have? The C3 Aircross’s standard safety kit incorporates six airbags (front, side and curtain), blind spot warning and autonomous emergency braking (AEB). However, that AEB does without the radar used in more advanced systems, instead relying solely on a camera. That also limits its usefulness to about 30km/h, up to which it can provide full braking to reduce the chance of a crash.
The lane-departure warning is overly sensitive, beeping to warn when you’re approaching the side of the lane. Plus, you need to press a button to the right of the steering wheel for a few seconds to disable it each time you get in the car. In 2017 the C3 Aircross was awarded a five-star Euro NCAP rating.
While it has not yet been rated by Australasian NCAP, the inferior AEB would mean it would not score five stars measured against the stricter criteria that apply today.