Citroen C3 Aircross UK Launch Review
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
The rise of the small SUV continues apace. Most of the mainstream car manufacturers have either entered this growing and lucrative market or are just about to.
Citroen aficionados may well recall the C3 Picasso, a practical mini-MPV but one which lacked the excitement and flair expected of the Gallic brand.
Step forward then a replacement in the form of the C3 Aircross.
Undoubtedly the most visually striking of the current crop of junior SUVs and by some considerable margin.
The aim is to retain Picasso owners and attract a raft of new more fashion-conscious buyers.
Looks alone will not sell a car so I journeyed south to the UK Media launch to get behind the wheel.
Immediately apparent are the clear design influences from the C3 supermini. However the Aircross is around 16cm taller and has a far more imposing front end.
There is plenty of scope for personalisation with some 85 colour combinations for roof and body.
The same is true of the interior with some quirky design touches and a variety of colour palettes and materials available.
The C3 Aircross continues with Citroen's mission to put comfort at the forefront of its mainstream designs and there is no doubt that the seats are soft and yielding. I am sure many will approve, but on a personal level I found the seats rather unsupportive after a longish stint behind the wheel.
Space in the rear compartment is plentiful, but avoid the optional panoramic glass sunroof as it badly eats into the available headroom.
The split rear seats slide backwards and forwards depending on the load being carried and therefore boot space varies from 410 to a class-leading 520-litres. Drop the seats and up to 1,289-litres will be available and if you are carrying a long load, the front passenger seat can be folded flat.
Three trim levels are available. 'Touch' models start at £13,995 and come equipped with such niceties as air conditioning and cruise control.
Next up are 'Feel' models (from £15,100) and these add alloy wheels, electric rear windows and door mirrors.
Top of the pile are the 'Flair' variants which come with climate-controlled air conditioning, satellite navigation and parking sensors. Expect to pay from £16,900. Citroen suggest 61% of buyers will splash the cash.
Engine choice is plentiful - petrol power comes courtesy of a 1,199cc unit, available with 82, 110 or 130PS power outputs. Diesel lovers can specify a familiar 1,560cc engine with either 99 or 120PS.
My main drive of the day was in the most powerful petrol version. The perky three-cylinder turbocharged engine is willing and feels brisk on the road (0-62mph in 10.4 seconds). Up to 53.3mpg is forecast for the combined cycle, my mixed test route yielding around 42mpg.
Looking at the figures, I would suggest the 82PS engine be avoided as I am sure the leisurely published acceleration time would upset even the most pedestrian of drivers (0 to 62mph in 15.9 seconds).
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A worthwhile option fitted to both test cars was Grip Control (add £400). This provides bespoke all-weather tyres and added traction, with enough ability to cope with a muddy track or a little ice and snow.
After a morning of heavy rain I deviated from the specified test route in search of an off-road challenge. Perhaps not the sternest of tests, but the track I found would have left lesser vehicles floundering.
The C3 Aircross shares its underpinnings with a host of Citroen and Peugeot models as well as Vauxhall's new Crossland X. Thankfully Citroen engineers have more talent than their Luton counterparts as the C3 Aircross generally boasts a comfortable ride and has reasonable handling. Shaper ridges can make their presence felt however.
The suspension is firm enough to counter body sway from the taller body and a series of bends can be tackled in safety.
I applaud Citroen for bringing the C3 Aircross to market. In a sea of bland offerings, its quirky looks attract attention and should hopefully get buyers into the showrooms to have a closer look.
Once there, the practical and spacious interior, generous equipment levels and range of frugal petrol and diesel engines might just seal the deal.
Citroen C3 Aircross
On sale 1st November
Prices start at £13,995
3 trim levels - Touch, Feel and Flair
3 petrol and 2 diesel engines.
Optional all-weather Grip Control (add £400).
Citroen Elect 3 PCP deals - low deposit, 4.9% APR
More details at www. info.citroen.co.uk/finance
Citroen C3 Aircross UK Launch Review, 24th October 2017, 13:22 PM