Citroën C3 Aircross: French Elegance Meets Functionality

Discover the quirky & innovative Citroen C3 Aircross, an SUV that promises to make a lasting impression on the Indian market.

Citroen, the famous French automaker, has recently introduced the C3 Aircross to its Indian lineup. This model serves to fill the gap between the C3 hatchback and the C5 Aircross. The C3 Aircross is designed to offer a unique and attractive exterior, a roomy and functional interior, and a fun driving experience.

This mid-size crossover brings a refreshing design & a turbo petrol engine to the Indian market in the hotly contested 4.3m long SUV segment, aiming to make a significant impact against already well-established rivals like the Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, Honda Elevate, Volkswagen Taigun, Škoda Kushaq, Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder, Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara & the MG Astor. Let’s check into the hits & misses of this intriguing newcomer.

French flair:

Citroen is known for its unique design language & the Aircross proudly carries this tradition forward. It shares the same C-Cubed platform with the C3 hatchback, making it instantly recognizable. The front, especially, bears similarities, but the Aircross adds its flair with a new lower bumper, a prominent skid plate & distinctive dummy housings.

The widened air intake & updated Chevron logo in glossy black with a silver surround enhance the car’s width & elegance. While the headlamp & Daytime Running Lamp cluster remain halogen, it’s worth noting that LED lights, common in this segment, are missing.

Moving to the side profile, the C3 Aircross boasts a well-balanced design with a generous 2,671mm wheelbase, 4,323mm length, proportionate wheel arches & glass areas. Stylish 17-inch ‘Quadratic’ alloys, plastic cladding on the doors, a two-tone roof & striking C-shaped tail-lights complete the aesthetic package.

On the insides:

Inside, the C3 Aircross maintains familiarity with the C3 cabin. The dashboard features a 10.2-inch screen available in two themes: Bronze & Anodised Grey. The front seats are upholstered in leatherette, offering excellent cushioning & support. Rear passengers enjoy ample headroom & legroom, though under-thigh support could be better. The 7-seater version is a standout feature, making the C3 Aircross the only SUV in its class to offer a third row of seats, but still only suitable for children or short drives.

Hold your horses:

The C3 Aircross offers a single engine option: a 3-cylinder 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine paired with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a 6-speed Aisin-Sourced Torque converter Auto ‘box. Unfortunately, there’s no diesel option on offer like on some of its other segment rivals.

However, Citroen’s turbo-petrol engine is a highlight, boasting 110hp & 190 N-m (Manual) / 205 N-m (Auto) of torque. The engine is refined, with minimal vibrations & excellent mid-range performance. It accelerates smoothly & offers a linear power delivery. While it may not be the quickest in its class, the 1.2 turbo engine performs admirably in various driving conditions.

Both the transmission options impress with their smooth & precise shifts, but the clutch in the manual can be a bit snappy in heavy traffic.

Is it safe?

The Citroen C3 Aircross prioritizes safety with a range of features, including dual airbags, ABS, EBD, hill-hold control, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, reverse parking sensors & a rearview camera (Max variant). These features work together to enhance occupant & road safety, making it a reliable choice

But 1 thing to keep in mind is that the car hasn’t been yet tested by the authorities like Global NCAP or even under the new Bharat NCAP testing regimes.

Pros:

  1. Funky yet likeable design that stands apart from the crowd, and has a lot of customization options & accessories to make your car truly unique.

  2. Offers the practicality of a 5+2 seater, which is a 1st-in-class feature. The 3rd row of seats is innovative & can be folded or removed easily.

  3. Boot space is massive & can be expanded to 839 litres.

  4. Quick 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine that is fun to drive, delivers good performance & fuel efficiency.

  5. Sorted suspension that offers a very good ride & handling package, absorbs bumps well & handles corners with confidence.

  6. Decent ground clearance of 180mm.

  7. Practical & well laid out cabin that has plenty of storage spaces.

Cons:

  1. Missing plenty of features that are expected in this segment such as side & curtain airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchors, sunroof, climate control, wireless charging, cruise control, rear AC vents, auto headlamps & more.

  2. Does not have any hybrid or diesel engine options on offer as seen on its rivals.

  3. Quality of cabin materials does not feel great & cost-cutting is evident in certain areas. For example, the door pads are hard plastic, the steering wheel isn’t leather-wrapped, glovebox is tiny & audio system is very basic.

  4. 3rd row of seats is best for kids only as adults will find it cramped & uncomfortable. The cabin width also makes the middle row seat suitable for 2 adults & not 3.

  5. Long-term reliability & after-sales service quality of Citroen remains a gamble. The dealer network is also tiny & limited to most major cities.

Verdict:

There is much to like about the unconventional Citroen C3 Aircross which in many ways is a breath of fresh air in the midsize SUV segment. The standout design & innovative 3-row configuration makes it unique in a clutter of midsize SUVs that all follow a similar template. The 1.2 turbo-petrol is a jewel of an engine & when it comes to ride comfort, the C3 Aircross is in a different league as well. Sadly, great product engineering can be undone by poor product planning & whoever specced the C3 Aircross has little understanding of the Indian consumer. Offering just a single petrol engine seriously limits the Aircross’ appeal, but what’s worse is the lack of features & the in-your-face cost-cutting.

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Tanmay Kulkarni
Tanmay Kulkarni

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