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Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
# Review
Review: The Citroen C3 Aircross takes a daring design gamble - and hits the jackpot
The Aircross is a great all rounder.

THIS STRIKING COMPACT crossover is the all-new Citroen C3 Aircross. It is the replacement model for the C3 Picasso and it will rival a glut of new compact crossovers including the Kia Stonic, Hyundai Kona and Opel Crossland X.

First off, bravo Citroen for continuing to take risks with its car design. I love how different this car looks to the other (many, many other) compact crossovers that have recently flooded the market.

Don’t like the colour combo of my test car? There are 85 combinations available so you’ll be sure to find one to suit your tastes.

Shane O' Donoghue Shane O' Donoghue

It’s not just the outside that looks funky though, the interior is also very eye-catching, from the bursts of colour on the dashboard to the bang-on-trend patterned seats to the funky font used on the dials.

The cabin looks interesting, and I haven’t used that word to describe a car interior in a long time.

The wide soft seats are very comfortable and there is plenty of room up front and in the back. I had my mam and auntie in the back and they both commented on the amount of space they had and how comfortable it was. They said they couldn’t feel any bumps at all. High praise indeed from two women who absolutely hate travelling in cars.

Shane O' Donoghue Shane O' Donoghue

In terms of practicality, my test car came with the optional ‘family pack’ which adds a folding front passenger seat that lets you load items 2.4 metres in length. It also adds 60:40 sliding and reclining rear seats which when pushed forward increases the boot capacity from 410 to 520 litres.

I upgraded my phone last week to one with wireless charging. The C3 Aircross comes with a wireless charging pad and it works a treat. No more cables everywhere and trying to fit them into awkwardly placed USB ports.

There is also a really nice looking and easy to use seven-inch colour touchscreen.

Shane O' Donoghue Shane O' Donoghue

The cabin feels very airy and bright thanks to the optional (€1,500) opening panoramic roof – and as most of the car’s functions are operated from the touchscreen the lack of buttons gives the cabin a very clean and uncluttered feel. However, not having physical air-con controls is a bit annoying. Operating the heat from the touchscreen takes a bit of getting used to.

Where the C3 Aircross surprises most is out on the road. It ticks all of the usual crossover criteria like good ground clearance and elevated driving position, but unlike many of its rivals, the suspension setup is considerably better.

There is sufficient suspension travel to soak up the worst Irish roads can throw at it, yet it retains a reasonably firm and composed ride. Through bends, there’s little in the way of body roll and the steering has a refreshingly sharp feel to it.

Shane O' Donoghue Shane O' Donoghue

Whilst the C3 Aircross is front-wheel drive only it can be specced with Citroen’s Grip Control system (€600) for improved traction. You can leave the Grip Control system in automatic mode or select between Sand, All-Road, Snow or ESP OFF modes. There is also a Hill Assist Descent function and combined with Grip Control helps maintain the car at a reduced speed on steep inclines.

My test car was the 110hp five-speed manual model in top-of-the-range Flair trim, which costs from €25,095.

The 110hp 1.2-litre petrol engine suits the car well, providing ample performance and striking the right balance with efficiency. Another benefit is that it is quieter than the equivalent diesel option. Its five-speed manual transmission has a positive feel to each shift and its ratios give enough of a spread to cover off both urban and motorway driving.

Shane O' Donoghue Shane O' Donoghue

There are 12 different driver assistance features packed into its compact body including, Park Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition and Active Safety Brake. The Intelligent Beam Headlights work a treat and the highbeam comes on and turns itself off automatically. It was nice and responsive and is very handy indeed especially at this time of the year.

Shane O' Donoghue Shane O' Donoghue

Overall, I am really impressed with the Citroen C3 Aircross. I love the daring exterior design and the funky interior fit, feel and finish and it has a good chassis. It is a fun daily driver and is easy to manoeuvre with good visibility making it perfect for crowded city streets. Its comfortable ride and quiet petrol engine also make it well suited to longer motorway drives too. It really is a great all-rounder and one that is full of character and charm too.

Prices start at €20,695 for the entry-level Touch 82hp PureTech model.

READ: Five festive European Christmas market road trips >

READ: Review: The Subaru Forester doesn’t look like much – but you might fall for its rugged charms >

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