Citroen head into the big SUV bat­tle

Rutherglen Reformer - - Drivetime Extra - John Mur­doch

Citroen is about to launch an as­sault on the pop­u­lar com­pact SUV mar­ket and last week I got the chance to have a look at their new of­fer­ing.

The French man­u­fac­turer brought the new C3 Air­cross to Scot­land to let mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ists have a pre­view - not a drive - be­fore it goes on sale at the start of Novem­ber.

Prices for the new model will start at a tempt­ing £13,995 ris­ing to £19,720 for the flag­ship.

It will be avail­able in three trim lev­els, Touch, Feel and Flair and it comes with high­per­for­mance PureTech petrol and BlueHDi diesel en­gines as well as the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of the PSA group’s EAT6 fully au­to­matic gear­box.

Slightly larger than the new C3 hatch­back launched by Citroen ear­lier in the year, the Air­cross is aimed at young fash­ion con­scious mo­torists whose cars have to be trendy as well as prac­tial.

Per­son­al­i­sa­tion op­tions in­clude an amaz­ing 90 dif­fer­ent colour com­bi­na­tions, five in­te­rior fin­ishes and a Vene­tian blind style slat­ted back quar­terlight.

It’s a stand out fea­ture avail­able in a va­ri­ety of colours and gives the Air­cross a dis­tinc­tion of its own - a styling cue in sim­i­lar vein to the Air­bump ‘bub­ble wrap’ pro­tec­tion pan­els Citroen fit­ted to the C4 Cac­tus be­fore slimming them down for the new C3 hatch along with a fac­tory in­stalled dash cam.

The slat­ted blind pat­tern cov­ers the out­side of the back quar­ter win­dow and will be a fea­ture of all but the ba­sic mod­els.

Tech­nol­ogy in­cludes full Ap­ple and An­droid com­pat­i­bil­ity, sat nav with TomTom traf­fic, a seven-inch touch­screen and a head up dis­play for the driver.

It is also the first Citroen to of­fer wire­less phone charg­ing which is fast be­com­ing a must have fea­ture on mod­ern mo­tors. Other fea­tures in­clude lane de­par­ture and blind spot warn­ings, emer­gency brak­ing, traf­fic sign recog­ni­tion and a driver fa­tigue sen­sor.

The Air­cross takes Citroen into the fast-grow­ing com­pact cross­over mar­ket with a car that makes max­i­mum use of in­te­rior space.

Not only is the cabin styled in con­tem­po­rary fash­ion with snazzy trim it is also of fam­ily pro­por­tions with plenty of head­room, slid­ing rear seats and boot space rang­ing from 410 to 1,289 litres.

Built in Spain, the Air­cross will be avail­able with two ver­sions of Peu­geot-Citroen’s award win­ning three cylin­der PureTech petrol en­gines with power out­puts of 130 and 110ps and two diesels rated at 120 and 100ps.

It of­fers seven inches of ground clear­ance – al­most an inch more than the reg­u­lar C3 – so the Air­cross has a proper SUV stance.

Skid plates are fit­ted front and rear, the body lines are chunky and there’s pro­tec­tive mould­ings around the wheel arches. As a re­sult the ‘go any­where’ im­age is not purely for show and higher grade mod­els will be fit­ted with Citroen’s elec­tronic grip con­trol and a hill de­scent sys­tem.

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