Breath of fresh air

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Keenan

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

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