Citroen C3 Aircross AT drive review: Is that enough?
- Powerful engine
- Brilliant ride quality
- Lack of basic features
The Indian automotive space is one of the most challenging markets across the world especially when looking at the popular segments such as the compact and the sub-compact SUV segment. Customers of these segments not only want quality but also the best tech available.
Despite being one of the most challenging ones, these segments are so popular that almost every automaker in the country has an offering in these segments, even the new ones like Citroen. Citroen’s answer to the most populated compact SUV segment, the C3 Aircross was launched in September 2023.
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Being the fourth model for the Indian market from the company, the C3 Aircross had huge expectations. However the lack of features resulted in the SUV getting unnoticed in the market. While the C3 Aircross’ competitors, which include the likes of the Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, Skoda Kushaq and others, were packing in all that’s available in the tech world, Citroen on the other hand had barely anything related to tech. Rather, the French brand believed that the SUV’s 5+2 seating capacity and the practicality it offers will be a turn on for the customers.
Another missing part in the C3 Aircross’ package was an automatic transmission (AT) option. Now Citroen has come up with an automatic transmission option to make the C3 Aircross a better proposition in the market. But is it enough? Let's find out.
Citroen C3 Aircross AT : Exterior
The C3 Aircross is a handsome looking SUV with its boxy looks and balanced stance. The C3 Aircross AT remains similar looking to the manual transmission variant. It gets Y-shaped DRLs at the front with highlighted air intake above the bumper. While on the side the SUV gets tight overhangs and well-proportioned wheel arches and glass areas, with 17-inch ‘Quadratic’ alloys. At the rear it gets C-shaped tail-lights, prominent roof spoiler and chunky rear skid plate.
Also watch: Citroen C3 Aircross SUV: First drive review
Citroen C3 Aircross AT: Updates
While it was expected that the AT variants of the SUV will get updates in line with the market demands, the changes to the vehicle are rather limited. The biggest talking point for the new variant is of course the new 6-speed automatic transmission. The torque converter gearbox gets paired with the 1.2 L PureTech turbocharged petrol engine. With the AT the SUV sees a surge in torque by 15Nm to 205 Nm while the power output remains similar at 108 bhp.
Another update made to the vehicle is the addition of remote engine start stop and remote AC preconditioning, which can be done using the MyCitroen application. Other than this, everything else remains similar to the manual transmission vehicle.
Citroen C3 Aircross AT: Interior
The rest of the package remains exactly similar to that of the MT variants, a handsome looking SUV with absolutely barebone interior. The main highlight of the cabin is the 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay along with a 7-inch digital instrument cluster. And that's about it, for a SUV which is competing in one of the most challenging segments, the compact SUV segment where rivals like the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos are present with tech filling to the brim.
One could argue that the vehicle has been priced competitively in order to make up for the lack of features. However, even the basic necessities like higher power LED headlamps, or even electronically foldable door mirrors which are quite handy in city drive conditions, are missing. Not to include some of the expected features from the segment such as climate control. Even the keys for the vehicle look like they have come from the 2010s.
Citroen C3 Aircross AT: Powertrain
The drive and ride characteristics of the Citroen C3 Aircross was one of its primary draws. The SUV's synchronised drivetrain always gives the impression of having been cut out of a single block. The story remains similar in the AT version of the vehicle. In fact it gets a bit better, thanks to the increase in torque, which is not much, but is definitely felt behind the wheel.
Besides retaining the peppiness of the engine and making the SUV even more eager to jump forward, the automatic transmission can also be praised for its capabilities to make city rides better. While the manual transmission version was more of a highway cruiser, the AT makes sure that the SUV remains to be at pace even in city conditions.
With the new transmission, the C3 Aircross feels even smoother than the MT variant, given the gear shifts are almost unnoticeable. However, everything is not in the green zone. While the shifts are smooth, in times of quick overtake, the gearbox takes some time to get itself together and downshit, although this can be eliminated using the manual gear selector mode. In addition to this, the steering at times feels a bit stiff for city driving conditions.
Getting back to the green flags, another area where the C3 Aircross shines is the ride quality. Thanks to the company’s ‘Flying Carpet Effect’, the SUV soaks up the bumps quite adequately. The SUV with McPherson strut suspension at the front and a twist-beam suspension with coil springs at the rear, feels wafting over potholes, even the bigger ones. The seats too add to this level of comfort with their perfect cushioning and space, which makes even the longest of the rides quite comfortable.
Citroen C3 Aircross AT: Verdict
While the drive dynamics and available space make the Citroen C3 Aircross simple to suggest, the absence of features—even those that are essential—makes it equally challenging. The starting price of the Citroen C3 Aircross AT is ₹12.85 lakh ex-showroom. Moreover, the 7-seater configuration is on the Max variant which costs ₹13.85 lakh ex-showroom. Given the price the car is being sold for, the fit and finish and material quality are undoubtedly good; but, a little more attention to improving the cabin feel would have made for a better offering.
Citroen C3 Aircross AT: Who should buy?
The C3 Aircross comes as a very unique proposition to the market. While its dimensions are comparable to the ones in the compact SUV segment, the price point at which it is being offered, is almost similar to that of a segment below.
The practicality on offer with an option for 5+2 seating, the brilliant engine and suspension are all going to the C3 Aircross’ favour. The AT variants go on to add the convenience of city driving. However, the lack of basic features can only be termed as poor product planning.
So if you are on a tight budget, and are looking for a bigger SUV with a higher seating capacity, the C3 Aircross is something that can be looked upon. The AT variants will add on the ease of driving in this case. However a key thing to keep in mind while getting the SUV is the proximity of a Citroen dealer or service centre to your place as the number of Citroen physical touch points are still limited.