Citroën C3 Aircross offers utilitarian new face

After a mid-life overhaul, the Citroën C3 Aircross offers a new face for everyday automotive functionalism

Citroen C3 Aircross
(Image credit: press)

The chunky Citroën C3 Aircross has been given a mid-life overhaul to keep it current and competitive in the increasingly crowded ‘B-SUV’ segment. This is the realm of compact crossover-type vehicles, a typology that has become the most commonplace car on European roads in recent years. Inspired by the high driving position of SUVs and their solid, go-anywhere image, the B-SUV is the modern baseline of what an ordinary, everyday car should look like.  

Pale green car driving on open road

The C3 Aircross offers up plenty of pseudo-utilitarian design cues

(Image credit: press)

Regardless of whether or not you think this is a good thing, the C3 Aircross does its job admirably. Larger than the conventional hatchback form of the basic C3, the Aircross has a few nice design touches, inside and out. These hark back to the proto-industrial forms of early Citroën classics like the H Van and the 2CV, especially in the slightly devil-may-care approach to conventional beauty.

However, the strict functionality and economy of those classics doesn’t really apply here, because the C3 Aircross’ visual utility is purely cosmetic. For example, the multi-layered front grille is in no way elegant, but it does impart a certain no-nonsense spirit. In short, this car doesn’t try too hard to be lovable, in the manner of a Fiat 500 or a MINI. There’s plenty of scope for personalisation, some very comfortable seats and a well-equipped dashboard, and the car is spacious and safe, with the added bonus of that jacked-up SUV ride height. 

Black car interior and dashboard

The interior is light, well equipped and comfortable

(Image credit: press)

We’re living through the protracted death throes of the internal combustion engine. Right now, small capacity engines are a more economical and efficient way of propelling this kind of car, so it’s unsurprising to find that there are no hybrid options.

There’s even a couple of diesel options available, both using Citroën’s extremely economic BlueHDi engine. Given all this, we’d consider the C3 Aircross to be a fine example of a soon-to-be-extinct genre, an evolutionary dead end that will be obliterated by the EV asteroid. 

Black Citroen car

(Image credit: press)

It’s unlikely that C3 Aircrosses will still be scuttling about our roads in a couple of decades’ time, unlike the hardy survivor that is the original 2CV. The company’s future lies with the newly electrified C4 range and bold experiments like the Ami city car.

Although the C3 Aircross might not make a cultural splash, it shows that the simple, straightforward, and rather traditional automobile is still in demand for now.


Citroën C3 Aircross, from £18,180

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.