Citroen C3 Aircross Review: Just Another Compact SUV Or More?
By Seshan Vijayraghvan
10 mins read
06-Aug-23 09:00 AM IST
- The Citroen C3 Aircross marks the brand's entry into the compact SUV space
- The SUV gets a 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine with a 6-speed manual gearbox
- Deliveries for the C3 Aircross will begin in Octorber 2023
Entering a new market can be extremely challenging for a foreign carmaker. Especially, when the market is India, which is both price-sensitive and feature-conscious. The Stellantis-owned French carmaker, Citroen, is currently trying to get a foothold in the market, and the company has some big plans, which include building a strong product portfolio. And a major chunk of that is based on the C-Cubed platform. Citroen has already launched two models based on that platform - the C3 hatch, and its electric sibling the eC3. But now we have another model coming in, and this is an important one. Yes, I am talking about the all-new Citroen C3 Aircross.
The compact SUV will go up against the likes of the Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, and Volkswagen Taigun. However, is it capable enough to take on the competition? And should you buy it? Well, let’s find out.
Desing & Dimensions
The C3Aircross has that signature Citroen SUV look with styling elements taken from the C3 hatch
Now I strongly believe that looks are subjective, however, let me tell you, I love the way this car looks. It has that strong SUV stance with muscular lines, flared haunches, a straight roof with large roof rails and a lot of cladding around the wheel arches and underbody. In terms of styling, this is the quintessential Citroen SUV. Up front, you have the signature look with the twin slat grille and the Chevron pattern logo at the centre.
The face is largely similar to the C3 hatch, however this has a more muscular stance. Sadly it only gets halogen headlamps.
The car also gets Y-shaped LED daytime running lights which are similar to the C3 hatch. The bumper too looks quite muscular and features some contrast elements, along with faux skid plates and foglamps. But the one problem I have is that you do not get LED or even projector headlamps on this SUV. Citroen is only offering halogen headlamps as standard. That too in 2023! And this makes me wonder, what was the company thinking?
The SUV gets new 17-inch alloy wheels with large roof rails and several dual-tone colour options
Walk towards the sides and you’ll notice the C3 resemblance fades off a little. The SUV comes with a set of larger 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, which looks quite stylish, however, the lower trims are likely to get 16-inch steel wheels. The rear too looks fresh, featuring C-shaped wraparound taillamps, which are connected by a glossy black insert. The SUV also comes with a nice, flat rear windshield with a rear wiper, a beefy rear bumper with more cladding and a large silver faux skid plate.
Also Read: Citroen C3 Aircross First Look: In Pictures
The C3 Aircross comes with a segment-best wheelbase of 2671 mm and both 5- and 7-seat options
In terms of dimensions, the new C3 Aircross has some segment-leading numbers. The SUV is 4323 mm long, 1796 mm wide, up to 1669 mm tall and comes with an impressive 200 mm of ground clearance. The C3 Aircross is also offered in both 5- and 7-seater options, offering a best-in-class wheelbase of 2671 mm, which translates to a spacious cabin.
Interior & Cabin Features
Citroen offers two dashboard colour options – Anodised Bronze and Anodised Grey
Like the exterior, the cabin too has been designed taking inspiration from the C3 hatch. The dashboard is pretty much identical to the hatchback, and you will see those elements on these AC vents, the steering design and even the touchscreen display, which is the same 10.2-inch unit offered in the C3. However, you do get different colour tones. In fact, Citroen offers two dashboard colour options – Anodised Bronze and Anodised Grey. The cabin is also extremely spacious, the seats are also well bolstered, and the cushioning is also very comfortable.
The cabin is also extremely spacious, especially the 5-seater option, but that misses out on rear AC vents
But where the C3 Aircross falters is in terms of features and creature comforts. You do not get automatic conditioning, only manual AC and that is a big miss given how competitive this segment is and how important this product is for the company. The C3 Aircross also misses out on other features that are commonly seen in the compact SUV segment like - faux leather upholstery (you only get fabric upholstery), ventilated seats, a wireless phone charger, and even an electric sunroof. Furthermore, you do not get Type-C chargers at all, just Type-A USB ports.
While the 7-seater option gets roof-mounted AC vents, rest of the features remain identical
As for rear seat comfort, let me start with the 5-seater model. Segment-best wheelbase means you have enough knee and legroom for even someone of my size. In fact, the rear bench seat is relatively flat so even 3 people can sit abreast in relative comfort. Plus, you get two type A USB charging ports as well. However, you do not get rear AC vents here, and funnily enough, the buttons for the rear power windows are not on the doors, but instead between the front seats, behind the hand brake lever. The convenience aspect is certainly lost here.
The 3-row version is essentially a 5+2 seater, and the last two seats come is only good for kids
In comparison, the three-row version seems like a better package. Yes, the middle row seats have been slightly pushed forward to accommodate more space for the third row, it’s still quite spacious. Moreover, unlike the 5-seater version, here you get roof-mounted AC vents as well. A must-have feature for a three-row vehicle. As for the third row, it’s not at all made for adults. It has zero knee and leg room and no under-thigh support and is at best suited for small kids. You do get 3-point seatbelts, two USB chargers, adjustable headrests and cupholders.
While the 5-seater option gets a 444-litre boot space, the 7-seater option, with 3rd-row removed offers a segment best boot space of 511-litre
Another benefit of going for the 7-seater option is that you can easily remove the third-row seats entirely and create a segment-best boot space of 511 litres. This can be further extended to 839 litres by simply folding down the second-row seats. So yes, the C3 Aircross is quite practical.
Infotainment & Tech
The C3 Aircoss comes with a large 10.2-inch infotainment system, same as the C3 hatch
In terms of technology, the 10.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system is loaded with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and both offer wireless connectivity, along with navigation and more. The leather-wrapped steering wheel comes with buttons for music and telephony, however, it can only be adjusted for height and not reach.
The SUV also features a fully-digital 7-inch instrument cluster
Behind the steering, you have a 7-inch instrument cluster that offers a tonne of vehicle information like tyre pressure, distance to empty and more, but the brightness could have been better. Citroen India also offers a host of connected car features as part of MyCitroën Connect, which includes – fuel status, geofencing, intrusion alert, SOS alert, and more.
The C3 Aircross has all basics covered when it comes to safety features
In terms of safety features, this top-end trim of the C3 Aircross comes with an electronic stability programme, hill hold assist, tyre pressure monitoring system and a rear-view camera. Other standard features include - dual airbags, anti-lock brakes, seatbelt reminder and rear parking sensors.
Engine and Performance
The C3 Aircross is powered by the same 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine that comes with the C3 hatch
Among the few things that work in favour of the C3 Aircross is its engine. The SUV is powered by the same 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine that is also offered in the C3 hatchback. In fact, the motor makes the same amount of power and torque – 108 bhp and 190 Nm, and pleasantly enough that feels sufficient for this SUV. It’s extremely peppy and fun to drive, and it pairs really well with the SUV. Max power is achieved around 5500 rpm, while the torque kicks in as early as 1750 rpm.
The engine is well-mated to the SUV. It's quite peppy and fun-to-drive
There is a good grunt in the lower revs and a lot of usable power in the mid-range as well. Yes, more power could have led to better top-end performance, however, that’s just me nitpicking. The motor is paired with a new 6-speed manual gearbox, compared to the 5-speed unit offered in the C3, and I quite like it. The gearbox does a fine job of sending power to the front wheels. The shifts are smooth and precise, and the gears also slot really well, which certainly helps make the drive quite engaging.
The motor is paired with a new 6-speed manual gearbox. The shifts are smooth and precise, and the gears also slot really well
However, if you are looking for an automatic option, then you will have to look elsewhere. Because like the C3 hatch, the Aircross too is only offered with a manual gearbox, which I think is a big miss given the increasing popularity of automatic vehicles. If Citroen wants this to be a real success, the company will need to bring in an automatic soon. However, we know for a fact it won’t be available at the time of the launch.
Ride & Handling
The C3 Aircross has a really nice ride quality, the SUV soaks in all the small bumps and undulations on the road with great ease
Coming to the ride and handling department, the C3 Aircross has a really nice ride quality. The SUV soaks in all the small bumps and undulations on the road with great ease, with minimal vibrations seeping inside the cabin. Even the handling is quite nice. The SUV feels stable even at higher speeds and responds nicely to steering movement. Yes, the steering cannot be adjusted for reach, however, that wasn’t a deal-breaker for me. Yes, I wished the steering offered better feedback, but it did have a nice heft to it, and was light enough to easily manoeuvre through city traffic. So yes, that is a good balance to have.
In a nutshell, the new Citroen C3 Aircross looks very good, the cabin is quite spacious and comfortable, and the SUV is extremely fun-to-drive. And these are things I really like. However, today’s customers are looking for a lot more than this. They are looking for premium elements, a lot of modern creature comforts like ventilated seats, sunroof and automatic air conditioning for crying out loud. But the C3 Aircross fails to deliver those, and that is something that we feel Citroen should have worked upon.
Citroen India will need to price the C3 Aircross aggressively to make a good value proposition
So, the make-or-break situation for the company would be to price it aggressively so that customers see some value in this. Depending on the variants on offer, I would ideally like this to be priced between Rs. 9.5 lakh to Rs. 13 lakh (ex-showroom). However, we’ll have to wait and watch as bookings for the C3 Aircross will begin in September, while deliveries will start in October. The prices are expected to be announced sometime next month.
Photos: Pawan Dagia