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Driven: 2022 Citroen C3 Aircross. Image by Citroen.

Driven: 2022 Citroen C3 Aircross
Styling tweaks have freshened the look of the C3 Aircross, but is the hatchback-cum-SUV still a contender in its class?


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2022 Citroen C3 Aircross

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The C3 Aircross launched six years ago, offering customers a funky cross between a compact hatchback and a small SUV. Comfort, efficiency and practicality marked it out from the crowd, but that car looks a little long in the tooth these days. To keep it fresh, Citroen has tweaked the design inside and out, but is that enough to compete with the C3 Aircross' accomplished rivals?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Citroen C3 Aircross Shine Plus PureTech 110
Pricing: C3 Aircross from 19,245 (Shine Plus from 21,985)
Engine: 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 136g/km
Combined economy: 46.3mpg
Top speed: 114mph
0-62mph: 10.1 seconds
Power: 110hp
Torque: 205Nm
Boot space: 410 litres


The C3 Aircross has had a few mid-life upgrades intended to bring the little crossover in line with other cars in the French manufacturer's range. There's some new chrome trim on the upper grille, while the lower grille is considerably more pronounced, but that's about your lot. The only other real changes are some new paint colours, darker rear lights and a couple of fresh alloy wheel designs. Small wonder the car has retained its playful character.


The C3's cabin has changed slightly more dramatically, with a new central storage area between the front seats and there's also a new and more conventional handbrake, although it was quite tricky to operate in our test car, with its central armrest, which gets in the way a bit. Happily, though, you still gate the same chunky, comfy seats as before. But you also get similar quality, which is a less welcome carry-over from the old car. In fairness, underwhelming plastics are the norm for cars in this class, but the C3 Aircross does feel quite cheap in places.

More signs of cost-cutting can be found in the touchscreen, which is more or less identical to those fitted in some other Citroen models. However, it's a bit less sophisticated than some, and it houses the climate control system, which means there's no need for expensive buttons on the dash. That's a pain, because the touchscreen is slightly more distracting than a conventional knob would be, but it isn't a disaster.


With a 410-litre boot, the C3 Aircross is a reasonably practical thing, offering slightly more luggage space than a Seat Arona or a Toyota Yaris Cross, although the difference isn't huge. Still, there's ample space for shopping, school bags or even holiday luggage. And there's adequate space in the cabin, too, although rear legroom isn't especially generous. Headroom will be tight for the tallest passengers, but kids will be absolutely fine in there, and they're the most likely occupants.


C3 Aircross customers get a choice of three different engines, with two versions of the same 1.2-litre petrol engine joined by a 1.5-litre diesel. Naturally, the 110hp BlueHDi 110 engine is the most economical, managing the best part of 60mpg on the official economy test, but wed stick with the cheapest option in the range the PureTech 110 petrol engine tested here.

With three cylinders and a turbocharger, it produces quite a pleasant thrum when you accelerate, and 110hp is enough for everyday use. The C3 Aircross isnt exactly quick, even if you go for the more powerful PureTech 130, but a 10-second dash to 62mph is enough to keep up with traffic. And economy approaching 50mpg is not to be sniffed at in a compact SUV.

Admittedly, the PureTech 110 is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox, and that might put some customers off. However, the little engine suits a manual well and light controls mean it isnt too much of a chore to use.

Ride & Handling

As you might expect from a high-riding French hatchback, comfort is the name of the C3 Aircross' game. Big soft seats and reasonably supple suspension mean it does a good job of softening most lumps and bumps, with no jolting or jarring over potholes or cobbles. It isn't perfect, of course, but it's more comfortable than many of its rivals.

Normally, though, comfort comes at the cost of handling, but the C3 Aircross manages to strike an appealing balance. It isn't sporty by any means, but it doesn't lurch around like some alternatives might, and though it rolls a bit in corners it handles better than you might expect. Naturally, a conventional hatchback will be better in the bends, but the Citroen is still manoeuvrable enough around town and visibility isn't bad at all.

Like so many other compact SUVs, there's no all-wheel-drive option, but that doesn't mean you can't specify a little off-road capability for your C3 Aircross. There's an optional extra called Grip Control, which is essentially a glorified traction control for slippery surfaces. It's a clever system and it comes with hill descent control that can keep your speed in check when going down snowy hills. Team it with some decent all-season or winter tyres and the C3 Aircross should perform admirably in the snow.


C3 Aircross prices start at just over 19,000, which pays for the C-Series models with automatic headlights, climate control and satellite navigation, as well as rear parking sensors and cruise control. That's a healthy kit list, but the high-end Shine Plus model we tested cost roughly 2,500 more and delivered part-leather upholstery, keyless entry and start, and dark-tinted rear windows, not to mention jazzy alloy wheels and black exterior trim, plus the 'slat' effects on the rearmost side window.


The little Citroen is not among the top-tier compact SUVs and jacked-up hatchbacks questionable infotainment and cabin materials see to that. However, it is one of the most likeable cars in its class, and the efficiency, ride comfort and general funkiness should ensure those drawn in by the image will enjoy owning it.

James Fossdyke - 6 Apr 2023    - Citroen road tests
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2022 Citroen C3 Aircross. Image by Citroen.2022 Citroen C3 Aircross. Image by Citroen.2022 Citroen C3 Aircross. Image by Citroen.2022 Citroen C3 Aircross. Image by Citroen.2022 Citroen C3 Aircross. Image by Citroen.

2022 Citroen C3 Aircross. Image by Citroen.2022 Citroen C3 Aircross. Image by Citroen.2022 Citroen C3 Aircross. Image by Citroen.2022 Citroen C3 Aircross. Image by Citroen.


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