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Citroën C3 Aircross engines, drive and performance

2017 onwards (change model)
Performance rating: 2.5 out of 52.5

Written by Tom Wiltshire Published: 12 July 2021 Updated: 7 August 2023

  • Small range of engines
  • Performance adequate but not brisk
  • Manual and automatic options

There are just three conventional turbocharged engines to pick from, two petrols and one diesel, with not a single hybrid in sight. Power ranges from 110-130hp so don’t expect brisk acceleration, either.

Petrol engines

Both petrol engines are 1.2-litre three-cylinder units that have a turbocharger fitted for a bit more low end shove. These engines are used across the Citroen range in everything from the C3 to the C5 X, and they provide good performance and a slightly bassy engine note. They’re responsive enough and well up to the task of ferrying the lightweight C3 Aircross around.

The 110hp unit comes paired to a six-speed manual. This has a slightly vague, rubbery-feeling action and an awkwardly sized square knob. However, it’s better by far than the clunky six-speed automatic which holds on to gears too long and surges with revs when it eventually does change. This automatic is the only option if you go for the 130hp engine. Given the relaxed nature of the C3 Aircross as well as this gearbox, we’d say that the PureTech 110 is all the engine you really need.

Diesel engine

Citroen C3 Aircross (2021)
Don’t go for the C3 Aircross if you value driving thrills.

The sole diesel isn’t particularly quick, but it feels good and strong from low revs so you won’t have to rev it hard to keep up with traffic. It also offers exceptional long-distance economy, but costs more to buy and is much less refined especially in cold temperatures. Unless you’re a real miser and want to see 70mpg on your trip computer, we reckon you’re better off saving your money and plumping for the petrol.


  • Plenty of body roll in bends 
  • Grippy but not fun 
  • Steering could be more precise

As you’d expect given the comfort focus, handling was not high on Citroen’s list of priorities. It’s by no means bad; there’s plenty of grip and it feels stable even if you do decide to drive briskly, yet there’s nothing that makes you want to drive it hard.

The steering is light at parking speeds and builds a bit of weight as you go faster, but it’s not as precise as more handling oriented rivals. If you do press on it leans over more than rivals and doesn’t feel particularly agile. If you do value driving thrills, have a look at a Ford Puma.

Four-wheel drive isn’t available, but a system called Grip Control is. This is a traction control system that has a variety of modes for different surfaces. It’s only available on Shine and Shine Plus models, though.