QUIRKY designs, baguettes, snails, the Eiffel Tower, it’s all France. And so is Citroën and its C3 hatch and Aircross, the hatch and small SUV combo from the car maker renowned for pushing the envelope of innovation.
We’re not making that up either. In 1934, Citroën established its reputation for innovative technology with the Traction Avant, the world’s first car to be mass-produced with front wheel drive, four wheel independent suspension and unibody construction.
It was revolutionary stuff, as was its introduction of the hydro-pneumatic self-levelling suspension system, modern disc brakes and even swivelling headlights that allowed for greater visibility on winding roads.
So it’s safe to say that Citroën knows what they are doing, and has set the trend on multiple fronts. Fast forward to 2020, to where Citroën has landed their latest versions of the C3 hatchback and C3 Aircross.
While they’ve been around for a while, the C3 hatch has always had a difficult life, made harder by competitors that were far better in most respects. This latest C3 aims to redress that with a new design, a punchier engine and new technology to boot.
It’s still a little overshadowed by its bigger steroid taking twin, the adventurous compact C3 Aircross SUV but, that said, the latest hatch is imbued with far more personality than its predecessor, and fits in far more comfortably.
Both models are dubbed as very fashionable (a tough call) by the French car maker, but nevertheless are characterised by a trendy and optimistic design, animated by coloured inserts and graphic elements like Airbump panels.
Whether you are a fan of the design or not, you cannot deny that the C3 hatch and Aircross stand out in a crowd. It certainly won’t blend in to a car park full of Hyundai or Toyota offerings.
A floating roof design is one of the stylish trump cards of the C3 range. Available in three colours, it is supported by black windscreen pillars, highlighting the dynamic outline of the C3.
Under the skin lays an efficient and economical PureTech 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine, producing 81kW of power and 205Nm of torque, with claimed fuel consumption of 6.6-litres/100km (we saw about 8.2 but did push both variants hard).
The power plant is mated to a new EAT6 6-speed automatic gearbox, and it’s a combination that’s perfect for suburban cruising. The hatch variant of the C3 also gets stop/start fuel saving functionality (it’s slow to restart too, which is painful).
Both models feel planted on the road though, and take corners well, for the most part. The Aircross is very good at this cornering caper, the hatch, not so much. It feels like it’s sitting on jelly, almost to the point of making you feel a little ick.
It’s worth noting that a new C3 hatch is on its way in mid-February 2021. It’s also worth knowing that because of its voluptuous design, both models get pushed around a bit in the wind.
The duo features the latest safety tech though, just in case, including autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and keyless entry and start. Lane departure warning is also on hand, albeit in an overly protective way.
It’s tied to the 7.0-inch capacitive touchscreen infotainment system as well, just in case you need extra reminders. You’ll also find satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink as standard and the system does a good job of being functional.
The Aircross adds city park self parking technology, tyre pressure monitoring, a colour head-up display, smart keyless entry, automatic rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlight illumination and a wireless phone charging pad.
Not to be left out, the C3 hatch are the new 16-inch diamond cut wheels, keyless entry and start, speed sign recognition and a rest break alert, reversing camera and rear parking sensors.
The reversing cameras in both models are terrible. The picture quality is grainy no matter the conditions, making them a little pointless. Inside, comfortable, hard wearing cloth seats, and there’s plenty of plastic, but the design choices work, and it’s well laid out.
There’s plenty of room too, with adults able to sit in the back seat in comfort, with plenty of leg and head room. It’s practical and versatile, with a boot size of 410-litres, growing to 1289-litres with the rear seats folded down.
Overall, the Citroën C3 range is worth considering if you’re looking for a small, user friendly SUV, or a funky hatch, with the former being the better choice in our eyes. Both come with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and 5-year roadside assist.
The Citroën C3 hatch starts from $32,723 (drive away), while the Citroën C3 Aircross starts from $38,893 (drive away). They’re available in Polar White, Passion Red, Breathing Blue, Ink Black and Almond Green.
Our test vehicles were provided by Citroen Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Citroën C3 hatch or C3 Aircross, contact your local Citroën dealer.