Aircross is a wind of change
WE CAN’T all afford Range Rovers or Audi Q7s but a growing number of car buyers still want an SUV, even if it’s one that’s smaller and more economical. And if buyers want it, car-makers will build it, including Citroen, which is about to launch its C3 Aircross, a model that is replacing the French brand’s C3 Picasso.
More than 65,000 C3 Picasso people-carriers have been sold in the UK since 2009 but a new SUV replacement is seen as much more in keeping with what drivers now want – to the extent that Citroen expects to sell more than 13,200 C3 Aircrosses next year alone.
It’s easy to see why it has so much confidence, as the C3 Aircross is a fun and funky-looking small SUV, with great appeal.
Rounded and chunky, with a host of rugged-looking elements (roof rails, plastic mouldings, skid plates, etc) it looks every inch the modern soft-roader.
It also offers 85 colour and trim combinations, with contrast roof options and exterior colour packs, which appeals to buyers’ desire for personalisation. Citroen predicts that as many as 75 per cent of buyers will opt for a petrol-engined model so there are three choices, all versions of a 1.2-litre, threecylinder engine. The base model produces 80bhp and manages a relatively sedate 0 to 60mph time of 15.6 seconds.
The average fuel economy figure is a respectable 55.4mpg, while 116g/km emissions are also low. Next up is a more powerful 108bhp model (thanks to the addition of a turbo), with a 11.1-second 0 to 60mph time. The inclusion of a stop-start system helps improve the fuel economy figure (despite the extra power) to 56.5mpg and lowers emissions to 115g/km. There’s also the option of a six-speed automatic gearbox, which lowers fuel economy to 50.4mpg and increases emissions to 126g/km.
On the road this engine with the automatic gearbox copes pretty well even with mountainous roads with challenging inclines. It’s not powerful but it never felt particularly lacking, while the gearchanges were functionally efficient. This engine is likely to be the most popular option among buyers, offering a balance of performance and economy.
At the top of the petrol tree is a 128bhp variant that manages a 10.4-second 0 to 60mph, while 53.3mpg and 119g/km aren’t a huge penalty for the additional power.
This also gets a six-speed manual gearbox while the other two petrols make do with just five speeds. On the turbo-diesel side is a 1.6-litre unit, with 98bhp or