The French are known for their petite hatchbacks and MPVs, but are relatively tardy when it comes to producing SUVs. The facelifted C3 Aircross in many ways covers all three genres.
Originally conceived as a replacement for the C3 Picasso (a small MPV) the C3 Aircross applies MPV logic to a hatchback footprint while adding in the ride height that SUV owners seem to enjoy so much.
So what’s new for this model over the previous variant? Updates include a more aggressive front end with LED headlights, a new grille and an aluminum-style skid plate, with colour accents throughout the car.
The centre console also gets an update and there is an extra 15mm of padding in the wide and comfortable seats. It’s roomy for three adults in the back, with sliding rear pews that are rake adjustable. The front passenger seat isn’t height adjustable but that’s only really an issue if you’re extra tall and regularly ride shotgun. It does fold forward making it practical for transporting oversized objects. With the rear seats folded, boot space is greater than for others in this class with a modular two-position boot floor and additional storage throughout the car.
Standard features include auto LED headlights, rear parking sensors, CarPlay, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, cruise control, blind spot monitoring, autonomous braking, keyless entry, reversing camera, ESP, hill start assist, five-star EuroNCAP safety, and semi-auto park assist.
When cleaning the Aircross, we wiped the wireless charge pad with a damp cloth which managed to remove some of the friction from the rubberised matt, and now our phone keeps sliding about. Hopefully that remedies itself somehow.
The added ride height gives you good visibility, as does the view out the door-mounted mirrors. The handling might leave you wanting the lower-riding C3 hatchback and while it’s no driver’s car (not that any SUVs are in this category) the extra height does make the Aircross entertaining to drive.
NZ only gets the Pure Tech 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine, but luckily that’s the one to have. Where French buyers still prefer a manual, New Zealanders don’t, so we only get the six-speed auto here. While it isn’t quite as economical as the three-pedal version, it’s certainly more convenient.
If you’re after a small car with an emphasis on versatility, here is one that also prioritises comfort and passenger space, while laying on a decent amount of tech for its class. Little details like the orange accents help make this French SUV stand out from the mainstream, making a playful statement that only a Citroen can.
|Clean Car Discount||Neutral – $0|
|Engine||1199cc, IL3, T|
|Drivetrain||6-speed auto, FWD|