It seems that Citroen India has been making all the right noises about their entry into the Indian market. They have invested a considerable amount of money to set up dedicated manufacturing facilities, are exporting both vehicles and components from India, and are now on the verge of launching their fourth product in India – the C3 Aircross. But, with the Aircross, they are looking to compete in a segment that’s already chock-a-block with products from multiple manufacturers, like the Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara, Brezza, Hyundai Creta and many more. Does the C3 Aircross offer enough to unsettle the competition and carve its own space in the market?
Citroen C3 Aircross Review: French Design
The C3 Aircross is based on the same platform that underpins the smaller C3, and it even features a similar design aesthetic. However, I think that Citroen’s designers have done a better job in designing the Aircross. Right from the big double chevron grille up front to the interestingly arranged front lights – they are spread over three layers – the Aircross has a unique and yet very Citroen-esque face. It’s exactly the kind of quirk that we expect from the French company. In profile, you again get a lot of interesting touches, such as the bulging front and rear fenders, both of which look very good. The top-spec variant, the one we tested, features dual-tone 17-inch alloy wheels and a two-tone paint job, which looks quite fine. Given all that design detailing and the plastic cladding on the arches and doors, I think that the C3 Aircross has some excellent design touches, making it look quite attractive, no matter which angle you view it from. However, I think I like the rear of the Aircross the most, especially the strikingly-designed taillights, which actually poke out of the body and are visible both from the rear and the side. Overall, the C3 Aircross looks unique, and in a very good way.
Step inside the Aircross, and the first thing you’ll notice is its large space and comfortable design – a testament to Citroen’s commitment to prioritising comfort. The interior is also quite spacious, and the quality levels seem to be of an acceptable level. While other cars in the segment feature floor mounted rear air vents, the C3 features a roof mounted blower unit that has its own fan control. The C3 Aircross will be available in two seating variants – 5-seater and 5+2 seater. Interestingly, Citroen has managed to fit in three rows of seating in the Aircross, given its rather large wheelbase for its class – 2,671mm. That said, even Citroen doesn’t call it a 7-seater but a 5+2 seater because they, too, are aware that the third row is good for only short rides, given the space constraints.
Also, with all three rows of seating in use, there is virtually no boot space left. However, as a 5-seater, the C3 Aircross offers a lot of interior room, perfectly accommodating even those who are six feet tall, and quite a large boot of 511 litres. If you need the 5+2-seat capability, you can easily install, or remove, the last row – Citroen claims that they can be removed in just a minute’s time.
Citroen C3 Aircross Review: Magic Carpet
When I looked at the C3 Aircross’ specs, I wasn’t sure if its 1.2-litre turbocharged engine will have enough grunt, especially given the size of the car. Surprisingly, though, the 108bhp and 190Nm producing unit feels potent, allowing the car to accelerate at a pace that can catch you off-guard. It truly feels quite quick. The engine likes to rev, which makes spirited driving quite enjoyable. The communicative steering setup and light clutch pedal also add to the overall driving experience, which is further amplified by the simply flawless suspension setup – a hallmark of the brand globally. The suspension works perfectly regardless of whether you drive at high speeds or on broken roads or even off-road, given its 200mm of ground clearance. While the NVH levels are quite well controlled, some engine sound does enter the cabin, especially at high revs. The air-conditioning has been tropicalized for India, and while Chennai’s weather during our test ride wasn’t hot enough to test it properly, it was indeed impressive in terms of cooling. Overall, I would say that if you’re an enthusiastic driver, you’ll quite enjoy driving the C3 Aircross, the engine is playful, the suspension supple, yet taut when needed, and throwing the car around can be quite a bit of fun. The 6-speed manual gearbox is also quite pleasing to use, though I think Citroen is missing a trick by not offering an automatic option too.
Citroen C3 Aircross Review: A Few Compromises
Standard equipment features play a huge role in the Indian market for any car, and in this regard, the C3 Aircross is a mixed bag. It does get a few things right, such as a large 10.2-inch multimedia touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a 7-inch digital instrument cluster for all the relevant information. It also gets the MyCitroen app connectivity, which allows you to control certain features of the car remotely, along with the auto stop-start system, ESP, TPMS, a rear camera, and roof-mounted air vents for the rear seat. However, the air vents only seem to be a blower unit and are not connected to the AC compressor.
Now, the C3 Aircross does miss out on features such as climate control – the AC is manually controlled – a sunroof, and even things like LED or Xenon headlights. Of course, the biggest omission I think is the lack of an automatic gearbox, which will deter a significant percentage of the buying public, given how quickly automatic adoption is growing in our market.
Citroen C3 Aircross Review: The Question of Value
The C3 Aircross is a car that gets the basics right – it drives well and has terrific suspension and decent build quality. Plus, it is also quite practical when it comes to passenger space as well as a large boot. But in terms of standard features, its rivals do have an edge over it. However, it’s the price that would decide the fate of the C3 Aircross. If it is priced on par with the competition, then Citroen’s going to have a hard time justifying why customers should choose the C3 Aircross over other offerings in the segment. However, if it is offered at a price that undercuts that of the competition, then it will certainly have a competitive edge. So while Citroen has managed to produce a good-looking, practical, good-to-drive product, its real challenge, like all other offerings in India, will be whether the customer is able to justify the price it demands.
- Citroen C3 Aircross
Engine: : 1,199cc / Inline-3 / turbocharged
Fuel: : Petrol
Transmission: 6-speed Manual
Power: 108bhp @ 5,500rpm
Torque: 190Nm @ 1,750rpm
X-Factor: A new offering from Citroen that gets the basics right.
• Terrific Suspension