Citroën India finally introduces an automatic gearbox to its C3 Aircross, but is it too late to the party, yet again?
After much anticipation, Citroën India has introduced an automatic variant to its C3 Aircross compact SUV. However, the absence of other updates leaves us questioning whether Citroën may have missed an opportunity for more comprehensive improvements to the car.
Finally, the C3 Aircross gets an automatic gearbox. We’ve been waiting for this ever since the company launched the car last year. We drove the manual version and it left us mighty impressed. This 6-speed torque convertor sourced from Aisin is well-tuned and responsive even at lower rpms. I was apprehensive initially, but all of that is now washed away. The gearbox is very refined with a sense of response to it, just like its manual sibling, though it misses out on paddle shifters.
109 bhp @5500 rpm
205 Nm @1750- 2500 rpm
6-Speed AT (TC)
With the automatic variants, Citroën has upped the torque by 15 Nm. The power output remains constant though. Among the compact SUV segment, it’s the highest on entry-level engines. The European and the Korean Twins do better with their larger 1.5-litre turbo petrol and diesel versions. What works in the C3 Aircross’ favour though, is a good amount of low-end torque. There’s minimal turbo lag, and that’s ideal when moving around in the city. Even on the highway, it’s not going to let you down. It has a nice pull right till 4000 rpm. Not too sluggish.
Honestly, paddle shifters would’ve significantly changed the driving experience. But that’s the way it is. It's available in both 5 & 5+2 seater versions but still no diesel, and I'm not sure if it will ever get one.
The fuel efficiency is lower than its manual sibling though. Interestingly, the automatic figure isn’t the best in class, so yet another opportunity was lost.
Citroën C3 Aircross
Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara
With a new gearbox, there’s also a weight change. About 30 - 60 kg more, depending on the seating layout. Has that, altered the car’s dynamics? Citroën is known for its comfortable ride, we’ve said this before with the manual version of the car that we drove in Chennai last year, and it continues with the automatic version of the C3 Aircross as well. Especially while going over undulations and bad patches of roads, even broken roads, the car takes on everything effortlessly.
Not just for the front row passengers, even those sitting in the second or even third rows, you can feel the comfort level from driving a Citroën. No complaints there! The suspension isn't excessively soft but doesn't sacrifice the feeling of being firmly planted. It balances comfort and stability with many problems.
Remember how I asked at the beginning, what’s new with the C3 Aircross? Well, I just covered that. Barring engine start and AC controls via the app, there’s nothing new. It still looks the same which by the way we like.
The cabin and the equipment list remain unaltered and honestly aren’t at par with the segment. Only the Plus & Max variants get the new automatic gearbox. There are still no 6-airbags as standard, not even on the top-spec version.
We understand the uniformity it wants to maintain before a proper facelift, but some improvements would’ve been refreshing. Given that it’ll cost approximately Rs. 1 lakh over its equivalent manual version, we feel Citroën should’ve planned this better.
Price (ex-showroom, India)
C3 Aircross MT (5S)
C3 Aircross MT (7S)
With the entry of Honda Elevate to the fray, Kia Seltos and the Hyundai Creta receiving massive upgrades, Kushaq and Taigun playing big on performance and safety, and the Grand Vitara, HyRyder duo raking in respectable sales for Maruti and Toyota. Citroën could have at least tried to up the ante in the fuel efficiency game. But it struggles and though it has a strong product in its portfolio, we think Citroën has lost a big opportunity.
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