Breath of fresh air
DEDICATED followers of fashion are certain to be attracted by the new Citroen C3 Aircross. This compact crossover is bursting with all the fun and flair the French motor manufacturer can muster.
Natty design details like the big, brightly coloured roof rails and a handbrake styled like a aeroplane’s throttle control cannot fail to catch the eye and raise a smile.
They could be gaudy but Citroen ensure that isn’t the case as everything is tastefully done, making the C3 Aircross a classy individual that stands out from a herd not short of fashionistas looking to rule the catwalk.
There is an in-your-face front end that reminds me of Mavel Comics’ superhero Iron Man’s mask as well as chunky body cladding that is a nod to its SUV pretensions.
A raft of body and roof colour combinations allow personalisation of the Aircross to proceed apace.
The focus on style is not at the cost of substance as Citroen’s replacement for the C3 Picasso compact people carrier continues to offer that model’s practicality – although cubby holes and cup holders are not as plentiful as you might expect.
The relaxing interior carries on the good impression made by the exterior. Citroen’s designers are clearly in love with neat geometric rounded oblong shapes highlighted in red as they festoon the dashboard in the form of air vents. The seating is comfortable and the cabin is light and airy and again there is an array of colour and material choices available.
Most of the plastics used that regularly come into contact with your digits are good quality, but there are some cheaper pieces tucked away.
There is good space for three adults in the rear and the back seats give the Aircross versatility as they split 60/40 as well as sliding fore and aft to expand passenger room or bootspace, which ranges from 410 to 520 litres. Take the rear seats out of the equation and maximum load capacity is a cave-like 1,289 litres which stacks up well against the competition. Awkward lengthy loads can also be accommodated thanks to a fold-flat front passenger seat.
There is plenty of kit included with the top-of-the-range Flair model getting a seven-inch colour touchscreen that provides access to the digital radio, sat nav and air con controls while Android Auto and Apple CarPlay allow mobile phones to be hooked up to the car. It is a decent infotainment unit, but I didn’t find it the easiest to use on the move.
What is good when you set off is the ride, which is comfortable, while the handling benefits from Citroen firming things up so there is no danger of the tall body leaning too much in corners.
The steering is informative while the efficient suspension handles the many humps and hollows littering our roads with aplomb.
The front-wheel drive only motor is also available with the option of ‘grip control’ offering all-season tyres and electronic assistance to help keep you on the road when the surface is slippery.
The 120bhp 1.6-litre diesel power unit under the bonnet of the car we sampled provides plenty of pulling power as well as returning decent fuel economy figures.
It is also offered in a 110bhp guise with other engine choices including the PSA group’s three-cylinder 1.2-litre PureTech engine in a variety of power outputs ranging from 82 to 130bhp.
The C3 Aircross arrives into an increasingly competitive market with new rivals, including the Kia Stonic, Hyundai Kona and SEAT Arona, also surging on to the scene.
But it is set to do well with a 13 model line-up priced from £13,995 to £19,720 offering style, space, practicality and versatility at a reasonable price.
TEST DRIVE CITROEN C3 AIRCROSS
Model: Citroen C3 Aircross Flair BlueHDi 120 Price: £19,720 Mechanical: 120bhp, 1,560cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox Max speed: 114mph 0-62mph: 10.7 seconds Combined mpg: 68.9 Insurance group: 18 CO2 emissions: 107g/km BiK rating: 23% Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles