Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Good choice of engines
  • Punchy diesels and characterful petrols
  • Decent automatic gearbox option

The line-up of Citroen C3 Aircross engines is well-judged. Customers have a choice of four petrol and three diesel engines.  

Petrol engines

Despite developing three different power outputs all three C3 Aircross petrol engines are based on the same three-cylinder 1.2-litre Puretech unit. The least powerful version is non-turbocharged and develops 82hp and 118Nm of torque, enough for a 0-62mph time of 15.9 seconds and a top speed of 103mph.

Move up from this into the turbocharged Puretech 110 and, as the name suggests, you get 110hp, 205Nm of torque and an 11.3 second 0-62mph time (11.8 for the automatic). Top speed is 115mph while the automatic tops out at 114mph.

This engine provides enough go in-and-around town and on country roads, although frequent motorway drivers might want to consider the punchier 130hp version. Like all of the C3 Aircross’s 1.2-litre petrol engines, the 110hp derivative is quiet and refined when cruising and has a characterful – if sometimes noisy – rumble when accelerating.

The most powerful petrol engine on offer is the Puretech 130, packing 230Nm of torque and a 10.4-second 0-62mph time. Top speed is rated at 124mph.

Diesel engines

The 1.6-litre BlueHDi turbocharged diesel engine is the sole diesel offering in the C3 Aircross and comes in two different power outputs – 100 and 120hp. Opt for the former and you get 100hp, 254Nm of torque and a 0-62mph time of 12.8 seconds, with top speed rated at 109mph.

For those that fancy a little more performance, the 120hp version offers up 300Nm of torque and 0-62mph in 10.7 seconds. Top speed is 114mph.

The top-of-the-range diesel is the one to get if you spend lots of time on motorways and offers plenty of torque and low-down pulling power. Third gear provides plenty of flexibility and negates the need to work the manual gearbox hard.

Gearbox options

The C3 Aircross is available with a five-speed manual (standard on the 82hp 1.2, 110hp 1.2 and 100hp 1.6), a six-speed manual (standard on the 130hp 1.2 and 120hp 1.6) and a six-speed automatic (optional on the 110hp 1.2).

Opt for the former and the gearbox feels easy to operate, although the throw is long and slack meaning it’s not particularly pleasant to use.

The automatic version offers relatively smooth gear shifts and rarely leaves you in the wrong ratio. Engage the manual override mode and the auto is impressively responsive to changes, allowing the driver plenty of control should the need arise.

  • Tidy on-road handling
  • Plenty of grip on offer
  • Surprisingly capable off-road

In the main the C3 Aircross's handling is tidy and composed. It offers up reassuring levels of outright grip and agility when required, feeling noticeably better resolved than its C3 sister car. Excitement levels are understandably low, but it’s a satisfying drive nonetheless.

Tip the C3 Aircross into a bend and, while there’s a fair degree of body roll, it never feels uncontrolled or unstable. The direct and well-weighted steering means it’s easy to point the nose of the car exactly where you want it, with the nose washing wide predictably if you’re carrying too much speed in.

The turning circle is tight, plus thanks to a host of available parking aids – including sensors, rear-view camera and bird's-eye-view cameras – it’s not especially difficult to park either. The ‘Venetian blind’ design on the rear three-quarter window looks like it could impair visibility from the outside, but doesn’t get in the way too much once in the driver’s seat.

Sadly, the steering offers no real feel even when at the limit of grip or going off-road – the latter being something that the C3 Aircross is surprisingly good at.

C3 Aircross has off-roading tech

Available as an optional extra on the C3 Aircross is Grip Control and Hill Descent Assist technology. The former enables the driver to select different optimised driving modes depending on what service they’re on, with road, mud, sand and snow settings all included.

The car’s traction and stability software will then adapt to the relevant conditions and provide greater control over low-grip surfaces.

Hill Descent Assist is designed to allow the C3 Aircross to descend down steep inclines with minimal input from the driver.