Citroen C3 Aircross automatic review: Gets the basics right

    The Creta rival finally gains a much-needed automatic gearbox option, but is it any good?

    Published on Jan 29, 2024 11:30:00 AM


    Make : Citroen
    Model : C3 Aircross
    We Like
    • Smooth auto gearbox
    • Flexible seating
    We Don't Like
    • Lacks features
    • Cost cutting

    The Citroen C3 Aircross competes in the hotly contested midsize SUV segment against the likes of the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos. While it does have strong fundamentals, an attractive price tag and clever packaging, we found it lacking in terms of features and powertrain options, including an important automatic option. With Citroen now introducing the new C3 Aircross automatic, here’s what it's like to drive.

    Citroen C3 Aircross automatic: engine, gearbox

    The auto gearbox in question is a 6-speed torque converter unit sourced from Japanese firm Aisin, which also supplies this gearbox to manufacturers like Skoda, Volkswagen, MG and Maruti in this segment. The gearbox is mated to the same 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine, and though the power figure remains the same – 110hp – torque has gone up to 205Nm; 15Nm more than the MT. The powertrain feels smooth and refined, and it pulls linearly all the way to the redline. Citroen’s turbo-petrol has good mid-range punch too, but, as with any three-pot motor, you do hear the thrummy sound inside the cabin when you’re really revving it out.

    Of course, the box is not as quick as a dual-clutch transmission, but what it lacks for in shift speed is made up for in terms of smoothness.

    Part throttle responses are also very good and the gearbox responds eagerly to your throttle inputs. What’s also nice is its off-the-line response. However, when you're on a highway and you want to make a quick overtake, putting your foot down is met with a moment of hesitation before it finally kicks down and moves forward.

    Watch now: Citroen C3 Aircross automatic video review

    The C3 Aircross AT also comes with the option of manual control for the gearbox, but instead of paddleshifters on the steering wheel, it's via a tiptronic function on the gear lever. The manual shifter works well and helps you keep the engine in the meat of the powerband when required.

    We’re yet to test the C3 Aircross auto for performance and fuel efficiency, so stay tuned for that. But in conclusion, the automatic is not only easier to drive than the manual, it also feels more at home in the city with its smooth and seamless shifts. 

    Citroen C3 Aircross automatic: steering, ride and handling

    What also helps matters in the city is the steering. It is nice, light and easy to twirl in traffic, and as you pick up the pace, it weighs up and gives you the confidence and feedback that you need.

    Ride and handling balance is another strong point of the C3 Aircross, and in fact, it is one of the best riding SUVs in its class. Low speed ride is impressive as this SUV soaks up rough edges, potholes and ruts with ease. While this soft edge makes the C3 Aircross a very comfortable car to ride in, at high speeds, it does tend to bob up and down a bit, especially at the rear. Straight line stability is good too and although there's some roll, the C3 Aircross is confidence inspiring around corners.

    Citroen C3 Aircross automatic: exterior, interior and features

    Other strong points of the C3 Aircross remain as is. It continues to be a nice looking SUV that is proportionate, with typical French flair inside and outside. The attractive looking light arrangements and alloys on the outside, and the funky-looking panel on the dashboard do help the cause.

    However, it still falls short on the equipment front. Sure, you do get a 10.2-inch touchscreen with wireless smartphone integration and a digital instrument cluster, but it misses out on things like a sunroof, ventilated seats, auto climate control and much more; these have more or less become the norm in the segment.

    The Citroen’s seats are comfy all round and it's easy to find your ideal driving position. Space in the second row is ample for six footers and the backrest even reclines. However, the optional third row is tight and best reserved for children, or adults for short drives. Uniquely, the third row seats can be removed entirely to liberate 511 litres of luggage space and they can be used as picnic chairs instead. What you won’t like is the blatant cost cutting on this SUV, the most prominent of which are the door handles, the simple key, the absence of individual window controls for the rear and the chunky AC knobs, to name a few. The auto gearbox does, however, bring in remote engine start and AC preconditioning functionality.

    Citroen C3 Aircross automatic: price and verdict

    The C3 Aircross still lacks features and that wow factor that rivals offer, but it was always an SUV that got the fundamentals right, and the automatic helps further that. Priced from Rs 12.85 lakh to Rs 13.85 lakh (ex-showroom), the Citroen undercuts all the entry-level AT variants of its rivals such as the Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, MG Astor, Maruti Grand Vitara and more.

    So, while it won't be on the shopping list for those looking for a fully loaded SUV, it's ride comfort and convenient and smooth powertrain means it's got what it takes for those looking for an SUV that delivers on the basics. And it's uniquely got that third row of seats too.

    Also see: 
    Tech Specs

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    Rehan Roche - 79 days ago

    Back of the pack effort by Citroen. Smh

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