The Citroen C3 Air­cross is much more than a beefed-up ver­sion of the stan­dard C3 hatch­back. It’s a highly com­pe­tent small SUV, says Paul Con­nolly

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - FIRST DRIVE BY PAUL CON­NOLLY

WHAT’S NEW? This car is new, ac­tu­ally. The C3 Air­cross is a new model – a small Suv/cross­over from Citroen C3 hatch­back family that re­places the ear­lier C3 Pi­casso, a small and once-loved peo­ple car­rier.

Ri­vals in­clude the likes of Hyundai Kona and Kia Stonic, but they need to watch out: the C3 Air­cross is a for­mi­da­ble com­peti­tor.

How­ever, there are new features like the higher driv­ing po­si­tion, im­proved driv­ing dy­nam­ics, bet­ter gear­box and other features that make it, in my opin­ion, su­pe­rior to its C3 sib­ling. LOOKS AND DE­SIGN From the front, it shares many at­tributes of the C3 hatch, but it’s when you look at the ve­hi­cle as a whole that you’ll no­tice the dif­fer­ence.

Mer­ci­fully, Citroen has seen the er­ror of its ways and there are no ‘air­bumps’ on the side of the doors as seen on ‘Cac­tus’ models (al­though ap­par­ently Citroen has promised Cac­tus fans that air­bumps are not dead).

The car is rough and chunky, in a petite sort of way, with heav­ily-trimmed wheel arches and a square, planted stance. The look is eye-catch­ing and ap­peal­ing in a funky-ish sort of way.

Citroen is on a bit of a de­sign roll these days, and you’ll ap­pre­ci­ate the stylish colour com­bi­na­tions – eight colours and three ex­te­rior roof colour packs. Con­tin­ued on Page 2 >>

My re­view car was a funky Pas­sion Red, with an Ink Black roof and match­ing wing mir­rors and bumpers.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL Citroen has gifted the C3 Air­cross with two main en­gines, petrol and diesel, in a va­ri­ety of out­puts, all of which do the job very well.

This is a family cross­over, so don’t ex­pect huge power and per­for­mance. Nev­er­the­less the units serve the car well.

The Flair S&S trim test car came with a three-cylin­der 1.2-litre Puretech 110 petrol pow­er­plant; it’s a di­rect in­jec­tion turbo affair with max power at 5,500 revs and torque of 205NM at 1,500rpm.

Mated to this was a 5-speed, all-syn­chro­mesh, man­ual gear­box. All in, the en­gine pulled well, the gears were slick and easy, and over­all han­dling was grippy and con­fi­dent.

The stats don’t re­ally do it jus-

elec­tric child locks, cof­fee break alert, open­ing panoramic roof, park as­sist pack, start-stop, grip con­trol and ur­ban red am­biance to name but a few.

Talk­ing of the am­bi­ence, this refers to the in­te­rior styling, of­ten two-tone, and there are four others: Metropoli­tan Grey, Hype Mis­tral, Hype Colorado and Stan­dard, each with their own colours and tex­tures.

There are three trim lev­els: Touch, Feel and Flair, with prices rang­ing from £14,700 to £17,995.

The cost of our SUV Flair S&S Puretech 110 test car, fully loaded with ex­tras, is £20,490.

THE lat­est ver­sion of the farm­ers’ favourite pick-up, the Isuzu D-max, has now ar­rived in North­ern Ire­land show­rooms and looks set to con­tinue the model’s as­cen­dancy in agri­cul­tural com­mu­ni­ties and homes and work­places across the coun­try. Isuzu have taken an already ex­cel­lent ve­hi­cle with a hard won rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity, workrate and value for money, and im­proved it still fur­ther.

Already crowned 2018’s Pick-up of the Year this lat­est model now has trailer sway con­trol as stan­dard, a wel­come ad­di­tion to an already high stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tion which in­cludes hill start as­sist and de­scent con­trol to en­sure max­i­mum safety (par­tic­u­larly ben­e­fi­cial for new­com­ers to tow­ing). Renowned for its le­gendary pulling abil­i­ties D-max 4x4 hauls a class-lead­ing 3.5 tonnes, and im­por­tantly the un­laden weight is below 2040kgs thereby avoid­ing the frus­trat­ing 50mph limit imposed on much heav­ier pick-ups from Toy­ota, Ford and Volk­swa­gen.

There’s a re­designed rear sus­pen­sion en­gi­neered from stronger ma­te­ri­als and 10kgs lighter, im­prov­ing ride qual­ity and com­fort, and re­duc­ing cabin noise lev­els. Three strik­ing new ex­te­rior colours join the line-up, and in­side there’s an im­proved pre­mium feel with lots of clever soft-touch fin­ishes and at­ten­tion to de­tail­ing. The new D-max range is pow­ered by the same tremen­dously ca­pa­ble 1.9 turbo diesel that has ben­e­fit­ted from over a cen­tury of Isuzu re­search and de­vel­op­ment, re­quir­ing no Ad­blue to sur­pass emis­sions reg­u­la­tions and avoid­ing all the frus­tra­tions of Ad­blue limp-mode, en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ards, mess and ad­di­tional ex­pense that the ad­di­tive brings to less well en­gi­neered com­peti­tors. D-max’s clever vari­able cham­ber turbo de­sign spools up quickly to elim­i­nate lag, and fuel econ­omy ex­ceeds 40mpg (com­bined).

Isuzu only build com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles, man­u­fac­tur­ing more diesel en­gines than any other brand glob­ally. Turn the key, hitch up your trailer, and it shows. Drive is through 6 speed au­to­matic or 6 speed man­ual gear­boxes – with both trans­mis­sions de­liv­er­ing a pleas­ing amount of en­gine brak­ing. Mar­ried to a steel out­rig­ger chas­sis there’s no doubt­ing Isuzu build a su­pe­rior pick-up and 2WD/4WD and Hi/lo ra­tios are stan­dard across the range.

Don’t take our word for how ca­pa­ble the Isuzu D-max is, con­tact your lo­cal Isuzu NI dealer and ask for an in­vite to their VIP launch pre­view to­mor­row Thurs­day 16th Au­gust, 4pm through 9pm. (Call 03303 118 385 for lo­cal cen­tre). There are spe­cial of­fers on ser­vic­ing, ac­ces­sories, used ve­hi­cles and sur­prises on the night, in­clud­ing a £1,000 voucher for any new D-max re­tailed at the event.

Isuzu deal­ers stock a wide range of ac­ces­sories to tai­lor your pick-up to your ex­act spec­i­fi­ca­tions, and a di­verse range of canopies is avail­able for ev­ery need. With a five year/125,000 mile war­ranty, and five year Euro Road­side As­sist for com­plete peace of mind ev­ery­where on this island and much fur­ther afield, if you’re in the mar­ket for a new pick-up then be sure to visit your lo­cal Isuzu D-max spe­cial­ists to­mor­row night.

Don’t for­get to tell your dealer the “Belfast Tele­graph” sent you!

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