Citroen C3 Aircross Review 2024

Written by Andrew Brady

heycar ratingQuirky but flawed little SUV
  • 2017
  • Small SUV
  • Petrol, Diesel

Quick overview


  • Very versatile small SUV with bags of interior space
  • Lots of character with some excellent interior touches
  • Cheap to buy and run


  • Noisy cabin at speed
  • You’ll need a top-spec car for most of the desirable features
  • Rivals like the SEAT Arona and Ford Puma are nicer to drive

Overall verdict on the Citroen C3 Aircross

"The Citroen C3 Aircross is like an east London warehouse conversion: relatively cheap, practical and roomy, but also cool. It doesn't drive like a tin-roofed storage facility, thankfully, and the PureTech petrol is peachy if you want a grunty motor that sips fuel."

Citroen C3 Aircross Review 2024 front

Citroen's C3 Aircross small SUV is a rival to the likes of the Nissan Juke and Ford Puma. But the C3 Aircross majors on practicality and comfort, rather than keen handling. Launched in 2017, it was given a mid-life refresh in 2021 to keep it up to date. Our 2024 Citroen C3 Aircross review will examine if it's still worthy of your consideration. 

An enormous amount of different versions have been offered over the years, because Citroen messed about with the trim structure on a fairly regular basis, and wasn't shy of the odd high-value special edition, either. Buyers of early C3 Aircrosses chose between Touch, Feel and Flair trims, while after the facelift, these became C-Series, Shine and Shine Plus, with equipment levels being extensively revised. Buy a brand new C3 Aircross today, and you'll choose between You!, Plus and Max models. See, we told you they messed about with it...

But, whatever model you go for, you'll discover the Aircross's cabin is a curvy, colourful and quirky contrast to the more staid-but-intuitive cabin you'll find in a Volkswagen T-Cross. It doesn't have the quality or poshness to worry the class-best, that's for sure, but there's no denying that it's cheerful.

The main brief of the C3 Aircross' interior, though, is to eke out lots of space from a relatively small body, and it does that very well. There's room for four tall adults inside, and on range-topping models (whatever they happen to be called at the time...), the back seats slide backwards and forwards so you can balance between boot space and passenger room. Slide the seats as far forward as they'll go, and boot capacity sits at a healthy 520 litres.

The Citroen C3 Aircross even drives practically. The front pillars around the windscreen are a bit thick, but otherwise you get a great view out, and the steering is light in town and direct at speed. The body does roll a little in bends, but it's not over the top. 

What's more annoying is that the suspension can get caught out by smaller bumps and ripples in the road, something even the thickly padded Advanced Comfort seats can't hide. There's also quite a lot of road noise at 70mph.

The highlight of the drive in the Citroen C3 Aircross is undoubtedly the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine, which has diesel-like torque and comparable efficiency. You can have it in two flavours, with 110PS and a six-speed manual gearbox, or with 130PS and a six-speed automatic. The cheaper and more efficient 110PS model feels just as quick, making it the pick even if you do have to put up with a long-throw, notchy gear shift mated to a springy clutch. The 1.5 diesel (initially with 100PS, but later upgraded to 110PS), is the only other engine. It's agricultural by comparison, but returns 62mpg to the petrol's 57mpg. 

So, is the C3 Aircross the right fit for you? If you need a frugal family car that has plenty of space and you value French flair over German efficiency, we would say yes, it is. It proves that a boring family car doesn't have to be, well, boring. 

Looking for a used car for sale? We've got 100s of Citroen Approved Used Cars for Sale for you to choose from, including a wide range of Citroen C3 Aircross models for sale.

If you want a quirky and interesting car that’s not going to break the bank to buy or run, the Citroen C3 Aircross is a good choice. It’s more practical than the equivalent Citroen C3 hatchback and its cabin feels very spacious (especially if you avoid the panoramic sunroof).

The Citroen C3 Aircross's quirky interior colour combinations will appeal to a wide audience and, although it’s not entirely successful in its execution, we like its comfort-focused approach to driving. There are better cars for long distance drivers, though, and anyone who wants a car that’s sporty to drive should look elsewhere.

If you can stretch to it, we’d recommend the top-spec Citroen C3 Aircross (first called Flair, then called Shine Plus, then called Max). This brings the most useful and desirable features, including the bold interior trims, the versatile sliding rear bench and the fold-flat front seat, not to mention the most sophisticated infotainment tech. 

Engine wise, the Puretech 110PS petrol engine gets our vote because it's cheaper than the 130PS version, with little penalty in performance, and it's also more economical. Avoid the diesel unless you absolutely must have the most efficient long-distance engine available. Also be careful not to land yourself with one of the very slow 82PS petrols, which were only offered for a short time - they’re extremely slow.

The Skoda Kamiq is another small SUV that takes a similar approach, prioritising practicality and comfort, but it didn’t go on sale until a while after the C3 Aircross, so it'll likely cost more money on the used market. 

You could also consider a Renault Captur (the new model launched in 2020 is much better) or a Peugeot 2008 (again, we rate the 2020 model highly). Other rivals range from the Vauxhall Crossland X and Mazda CX-3 to the Kia Stonic and Nissan Juke. Also consider the new Ford Puma, although the EcoSport is to be avoided.

Comfort and design: Citroen C3 Aircross interior

"The Citroen C3 Aircross has a refreshingly quirky and interesting cabin. It feels more like a trendy living room than a used car, with funky design and a textured dashboard."

Citroen C3 Aircross Review 2024 interior and cabin

There are four interior ambiances to choose from with the Citroen C3 Aircross, each changing the seat upholstery, dashboard textures, door panel designs and various touches of colour across the centre console, steering wheel, air vents and seat backs.

Sadly, the most desirable (and colourful) interior ambiances are only available on high-spec models. While the rather drab grey cloth seats in lower-spec models will be perfectly acceptable in other cars, Citroen makes such a big deal out of the quirky customisation options in the C3 Aircross that it’s a shame they’re only available on the top-spec cars. On later cars, the choice of interior colour options was pared right back to two.

Pleasingly, the C3 Aircross has the high-up seating position desired by buyers of cars like this. You’re not going to get a particularly high view of the road, but you do sit in a more conventional SUV position (like an armchair) than you would in a low-down hatchback. That makes access easier if your joints aren’t as bendy as they once were.

The squidgy seats are comfortable thanks to extra padding, while they’re also wider than most. Unfortunately, they do lack a bit of support, meaning you might notice a bit of back ache on long journeys.

While it generally feels well finished, some of the plastics in the Citroen C3 Aircross seem rather cheap and nasty, particularly around the door panels, glove box and lower half of the dashboard. There are no soft-touch materials here, just hard plastics. 

The various switches and buttons (like those for the electric windows or used for adjusting the volume of the radio) are fine but don’t feel as tactile as those in a Volkswagen T-Cross, for example.

On the plus side, the C3 Aircross’s cabin feels well up to the job of deflecting day-to-day wear and tear. Those harsh plastics will still be looking exactly the same well after the car’s serviceable life, and the seat materials ought to wear well, too. Same goes for the leather-covered steering wheel and gear knob.

Buy an early entry-level Touch-trimmed Citroen C3 Aircross, and you'll get a DAB radio with Bluetooth and a USB port, but that's about it. Buy one of the loftier trims, and you'll get a 7.0-inch touchscreen media system which will be familiar to anyone who’s driven any car of the same era from Peugeot-Citroen.

It’s a weak point, unfortunately. Not only is it slow to respond, a shortage of physical buttons (apart from the volume control) means you’ll end up jabbing at the screen on the move. Even adjusting the climate control requires a concerted effort to negotiate the infotainment system. To do so, you’ll have to leave whatever it is you previously had displayed, just to change the temperature. Woe betide any passenger who decides they’re cold while the driver’s relying on the nav system at a tricky intersection.

Talking of navigation, that’s only standard on the range-topping Flair with early cars, and was optional on the mid-range Feel trim. No matter, as both these versions had Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, that allow you to display navigation instructions from your phone on the main screen.

Things improved a bit with the 2021 facelift, because the 7.0-inch screen became standard on the entry-level trim (then called C-Series, now called You!), and both the others (then called Shine and Shine Plus, now called Plus and Max) got a bigger 9.0-inch screen with built-in nav. It's a bit better, with crisper software, better graphics and a less cluttered look, but it's still far from the best system you'll encounter.

Unlike a lot of cars in this class, the C3 Aircross is significantly more spacious than the hatchback on which it’s based. That’s good news if you’re wanting to carry passengers and luggage, or just want an airy cabin.

There’s plenty of legroom in the front of the Citroen C3 Aircross, although the high seating position does hinder headroom for the tallest of drivers, especially if you buy a C3 Aircross with the optional panoramic sunroof fitted.

There’s also a load of useful storage areas, including door bins big enough to carry 1.5-litre bottles and generously large cup holders. As is often the case in right-hand-drive versions of French cars, the glove box is annoyingly small, due to the pesky fuse box.

In the back, you can just about squeeze three cooperative adults side by side. There isn’t a lump in the floor for a transmission tunnel like some rivals, so the middle-seat passenger will have somewhere to rest their feet - although they will be rubbing shoulders, particularly if they’re of chunky build.

As exciting as it sounds, the boot is one of the best features of the C3 Aircross. As standard, it can accommodate 410 litres of luggage - more than the Skoda Kamiq and Hyundai Kona, although not quite as much as the Nissan Juke and Ford Puma. It has got a trick up its sleeve, though.

The rear bench on top-spec models can recline as well as slide backwards and forwards, providing up to 520 litres of luggage space with it as far forward as possible. If you need more room, it can drop to provide up to 1289 litres.

With the rear bench in place, the boot is still very versatile thanks to its false floor and useful shape. There’s little in the way of a lip, making loading easier.

The external dimensions of the Citroen C3 Aircross are pretty typical for a small SUV. It measures 4155mm long, 1765mm wide (with the door mirrors folded) and 1637mm high.

Handling and ride quality: What is the Citroen C3 Aircross like to drive?

"The Citroen C3 Aircross is at its best around town, where the high seating position, light steering and soft suspension makes it a delight to dart about in. Top-spec versions come with rear parking sensors and a reversing camera, both of which are useful when squeezing into tight spaces."

Citroen C3 Aircross Review 2024 rear three quarter

It does well on the open road, too. The steering is surprisingly direct and there's only a hint of the floaty feeling you got in the C4 Cactus. While the car skips over potholes and bumps in the road, smaller surface changes unsettle it, and it can be quite noisy on the motorway. 

Despite the increase in ground clearance over the C3 hatchback, giving the Citroen C3 Aircross the appearance of an off-roader, you can’t buy a four-wheel-drive version. If you’re expecting to drive in challenging conditions (such as snowy roads or muddy fields), look for one with the optional Grip Control fitted.

This allows you to select from various drive modes (including snow, mud and sand), optimising the traction control for these conditions. It's actually very effective and also comes with Hill Descent Assist, controlling your speed down steep slopes and allowing you to leave the braking to the car and concentrate on steering.

The 1.2-litre Puretech 110 petrol is by far the most popular engine in the C3 Aircross. It’s quite a punchy little three-cylinder unit, although its 10.1 second 0-62mph time means it’s not going to win any drag races any time soon. It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox which is fine, aside from the springy clutch and baggy gear change. 

The same engine was originally available with just 82PS and it was glacially slow, taking an incredible 16.3 seconds to reach 62mph. Unless you’re a new driver and desperate for affordable insurance, avoid the C3 Aircross with this engine. Citroen dropped it from the range in 2019 but there are quite a few on the used market.

If you want an automatic gearbox, the more powerful Puretech 130PS engine comes as standard with a six-speed automatic transmission. Look for one of these if it’s within budget - the auto transmission is better than the manual, with rapid enough responses, and the extra potency of the 130PS engine helps with motorway driving.

Should you want a diesel, Citroen offers the C3 Aircross with a BlueHDi 100 engine, later upped to 110PS, and manual gearbox. This is a rare option so it may take some hunting around dealers to find one. You’ll pay a premium for it too, which will offset any savings you’ll make in fuel economy. That’s unless you cover mega mega miles, in which case you probably want to look at something bigger than the C3 Aircross.

The Citroen C3 Aircross isn't a particularly quiet cruiser with plenty of road noise even if you stick rigidly to the legal limit, which seems to be amplified by the relatively large passenger cavity. On the upside, you'll struggle to make out any wind- or engine noise over the drone. On the latter, the PureTech petrol engines make a nice enough thrum under acceleration, while the diesel is relatively muted getting up to speed. 

When Euro NCAP crash tested the C3 Aircross in 2017, it was awarded a maximum five out of five stars. It was awarded 85% for the adult occupancy test, with NCAP praising the protection of both drivers and passengers in a variety of collisions. It scored 82% for child occupants, helped by the ISOFIX points on the outer rear seats (although they’re missing on the front passenger seat) plus 64% pedestrian impact protection and 60% for safety assist features That last score is pretty poor, mainly because an autonomous emergency braking system isn't standard throughout the range: indeed, only the range-topping car gets it.

What's more, the car was tested back in 2017, when the testing standards were nowhere near as stringent as they are today. Were it tested again under the latest protocols, there's no way it would score five stars again: the lack of autonomous emergency braking on its own would be enough to preclude it from a five-star rating.

Strangely, Citroen doesn’t offer the C3 Aircross with its ConnectedCam. This is a built-in dash camera which made its debut on the C3 and can be quite a useful tool.

MPG and fuel costs: What does a Citroen C3 Aircross cost to run?

"The Citroen C3 Aircross shouldn’t cost a fortune to run, because its engines post some very impressive figures in official WLTP fuel economy tests. The popular Puretech 110PS returns up to 54.2mpg on the combined test cycle, while this drops to 48.5mpg from the Puretech 130 with the automatic gearbox."

Citroen C3 Aircross Review 2024 panning

Of course, if you’re after frugality, look for a BlueHDi 110 diesel. This officially returns 64.0mpg, although you’ll have to cover quite a lot of miles to balance out the higher purchase price. This is also one of your few options left if you're looking a brand new small car with a diesel engine. Diesel is so unfashionable these days that small diesels have been withdrawn from sale at a rate of knots by their makers recently.

Unfortunately, we've heard of a number of issues with the Citroen C3 Aircross. Faults reported include high oil consumption from the 1.2-litre Puretech engine, gremlins with the infotainment system and corroded rear brakes.

As a brand, Citroen seems to be improving in terms of reliability, but it performed poorly in the latest Satisfaction Index, placing fifth on the list of the UK's least reliable manufacturers.

None of the C3 Aircross models are particularly powerful, so all should be affordable to insure. The early Touch-trimmed car with the now-defunct Puretech 82 engine has the lowest insurance grouping at group 8. The Puretech 130PS has the highest rating, rising as high as group 21, which is worth bearing in mind if you’re considering an auto - especially if you’re a new driver.

There’s nothing massively surprising about these insurance ratings. Buying a C3 Aircross shouldn’t alarm your insurance company, but it’s always worth shopping around for quotes.

All Citroen C3 Aircross models have been registered since the latest vehicle tax rules were introduced in April 2017, meaning they’ll be subject to the standard flat rate of VED, which stands at £190 per year. There’s no way around this unless you look for an electric alternative like the Hyundai Kona Electric.

How much should you be paying for a used Citroen C3 Aircross?

"If you're buying brand new, the Citroen C3 Aircross starts at around £18,000 for the You! version, while prices rise to more than £24,000 for the range-topping Max version.."

Citroen C3 Aircross Review 2024 boot space

However, if you don't mind an older car, there are huge savings to be made on the used car market, not least because the car has been around for so long. Settle for a pre-facelift model, and the cheapest examples on our listings come in at between £8,000 and £9,000. These are most likely to be 2018 cars in Feel trim with between 50,000- and 60,000 miles on the clock. Most will have the 1.2 Puretech petrol engine, with the odd BlueHDi diesel thrown in for that money as well.

Post-facelift cars from 2021 or later start at around £12,000 or £13,000, and again, these are likely to have the entry-level engines and trims, and around 20,000 miles under their wheels.

The C3 Aircross has been around since 2017, and Citroen has messed about with its trim levels on a fairly regular basis in order to keep the car relevant.

Initially, the trim levels available were Touch, Feel and Flair. The entry-level Citroen C3 Aircross Touch is fairly basic, with 16-inch steel wheels, manual air conditioning, DAB, Bluetooth, cruise control, electric front windows, automatic lights and lane departure warning.

Feel is better, with highlights including 16-inch alloy wheels, cornering front foglights, rear electric windows, a leather steering wheel and the 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The special-edition Citroen C3 Aircross C-Series temporarily made an appearance, adding black alloy wheels (still 16-inch), automatic air conditioning, rear parking sensors and automatic lights/wipers, Graphite grey interior with white stitching and the Regal Red colour pack.

The top-spec Citroen C3 Aircross Flair included the useful sliding rear bench, automatic air-conditioning, rain-sensing wipers, navigation, a contrasting roof, 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels and keyless entry/start.

It was all-change as of the 2021 facelift. As of then, the Citroen C3 Aircross range kicked off with the C-Series model, which gets smart exterior looks thanks to its 16-inch alloy wheels, Regal Red colour pack, roof bars and tinted rear windows. It gets a seven-inch infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, alarm, automatic lights and wipers, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors and rear parking sensors. 

The Citroen C3 Aircross Shine gets black exterior highlights, and a larger nine-inch touchscreen that has built-in sat-nav.

C3 Aircross Shine Plus models are found at the top of the range and can be identified by their 17-inch wheels and two-tone paint job. Inside, they get leather effect upholstery, Citroen's Advanced Comfort seats, a rear bench that slides forwards and backwards and a front seat that folds flat for carrying longer items. You also get useful extra kit including keyless go, front parking sensors, a rearview camera and automatic emergency brakes.

Today, the trim levels available are called You!, Plus and Max. The You! is designed to be a super affordable option and so misses some kit as a result, but you do get alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, all-round electric windows, automatic air-con, rear parking sensors, cruise control, powered door mirrors and LED lights and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Plus adds automatic lights and wipers, a pull-out boot floor, 9.0-inch touchscreen with native navigation. Max trim adds forward collision alert with active braking, keyless entry, reversing camera, a head-up display, sliding rear seats, and a flat-folding front passenger seat.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

The Citroen C3 Aircross combines the best features of a hatchback with an SUV. It has raised suspension, but not a four-wheel-drive system. Instead, it can be had with Grip Control, and electrical system that helps the front tyres find purchase on terrain including sand, mud and snow.
The Citroen C3 Aircross starts at around £18,000 for the You! version, while prices rise to more than £24,000 for the range-topping Max version.
The Citroen C3 Aircross is a good car if you're looking for a quirkily styled hatchback that has plenty of room for you, your other half and the kids. The driving experience focuses on comfort and its best sampled with the 110PS PureTech petrol engine, which is nippy and cheap to run.

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