Citroen C3 Aircross 1.2 Puretech 130 Flair25 | 10 | 2017Scotcars rating

    Citroen bids to stand out from the small SUV crowd with its quirky new C3 Aircross

    CITROEN IS BIDDING to grab a slice of the ever-increasing small SUV/Crossover market with the introduction of its funky C3 Aircross. Going head-to-head with the likes of class-leading Nissan Juke, plus the the Kia Stonic, Seat Arona, and Vauxhall Crossland X, it faces stiff competition.

    I have to admit, first impressions are good. It’s certainly quirky, and manages to meld the ever-evolving marriage between a  high-riding hatch and SUV.

    Remember when Citroen’s core used to be small MPVs, like the C3 Picasso? Well, as the bottom has essentially fallen out of the MPV sector, small SUVs, such as the Aircross, are the way forward.

    Externally, the new Citroen screams fun! To be honest, I think it definitely looks quirky, and interesting. Based — not surprisingly — on the C3, the Aircross is 4.15m long and 1.6m tall, which makes it look handsomely rugged … and upright.

    Citroen-C3-Aircross-4.jpg

    Before you go any further, don’t think this is a 4x4, because it isn’t. Because it’s built on the C3 supermini platform, this is a front-drive tall hatchback rather than a full-on SUV. Having said that, it does boast 175mm of ground clearance.

    Just to confuse the situation further, Citroen’s Grip Control — which includes hill descent control, an adaptable traction control for off-road and all-season tyres — is a £400 option on Feel or Flair models. Which means, if you really want to go ’soft-roading’, there’s an Aircross for you. That Gallic outdoor ruggedness continues with the addition of roof rails.

    Citroen-C3-Aircross-6.jpg

    Inside the cabin, there’s 60/40 split rear seats, with the option of a sliding rear bench which increases luggage capacity from 410 to 520 litres. Plus there’s a fold-flat passenger seat and, with the rear bench folded, stowage increases to 1289 litres.

    The cabin is a happy place to be, and buyers can choose from three trim levels: Touch, Feel and Flair. Touch? It’s not exactly brimming with goodies, but you do get USB and Bluetooth connectivity, lane departure warning, speed limit recognition and a DAB radio as standard.

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    Best step up to the two higher-spec versions. Each gets a big touchscreen, which is all very modern, but which also — why do so many car manufacturers do this now? — has the climate controls secreted within its software.

    Elsewhere, there are loads of helpful and satisfying goodies. The Feel adds 16in alloys, bumper protectors and the 7.0in touchscreen infotainment screen. The range-topping Flair is even better with sat nav and 17in alloys as standard.

    Our Flair-specced test car was fitted with a host of options, including metallic paint (£520), opening panoramic sunroof (£950), park assis pack (£600), Urban Red ambiance (£450), and the previously mentioned Grip Control (£400). These took the basic £18,400 price up to £21,320.

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    Engine wise, buyers have a fairly comprehensive choice. There’s a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol with 81bhp; there’s also two turbo versions of the 1.2, delivering 110bhp or 130bhp. The range also includes a proper six-speed automatic version for the 110bhp, rather than the single-clutch automated manual.

    If you fancy a diesel, there are two versions of the 1.6-litre, delivering 99bhp and 119bhp. Each is not only very quiet, but is also available only as a five-speed manual which, it should be said, is a sharp, tidy little gearbox.

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    The Aircross rides pleasantly — it’s thankfully stiffer than the C3 — and the steering is enjoyable light … which makes it perfect for navigating past the irresponsibly abandoned trolleys in Tesco car park.

    Citroen predicts, not surprisingly, that the 1.2-litre PureTech turbo petrol unit, will be its top seller It’s a torquey, ‘put-a-smile-on-your-face’ little unit which is not only strong, but delivers 53mpg.

    As I said at the beginning, the C3 Aircross is entering a tough, and highly competitive market place, but if you’re considering a small SUV/crossover, then it’s definitely worth putting the Citroen through its paces before you make your final decision.

    Related: Citroen reveals C3 Aircross

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    Jim McGill

     

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £18,400 / £21,320
    Engine / Power: 1.2-litre 3cyl turbo petrol, with 5sp manual / 109bhp
    How fast?: 10.4sec / Max 124mph
    How big/heavy?: L4155mm W1765mm (incl mirrors) H1637mm / 1188kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 53.3mpg combined / 119g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a / n/a
    Alternatives: Nissan Juke, Kia Stonic, Seat Arona, Vauxhall Crossland X

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