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Citroen C3 Aircross supermini SUV enjoys high life

PUBLISHED: 15:37 09 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:37 09 November 2017

Citroen C3 Aircross compact sport utility vehicle is a colourful character with 85 customising combinations. Picture: Citroen

Citroen C3 Aircross compact sport utility vehicle is a colourful character with 85 customising combinations. Picture: Citroen

Citroen

Citroen’s new C3 Aircross is a colourful character joining the compact SUV market. Motoring editor Andy Russell finds out if this ‘supermini on stilts’ lives up to its looks.

Venetian blind-style rear quarter light windows are an attractive option. Picture: Citroen Venetian blind-style rear quarter light windows are an attractive option. Picture: Citroen

Superminis on stilts are blossoming in the compact sport utility vehicle market with a host of high-rise hatchbacks. One of the latest to jump on the small SUV bandwagon is Citroen with the C3 Aircross.

There’s a buzz of belief and buyer focus in the Citroen camp with sales rising and new models geared to what customers – both existing and new ones – want.

The C3 Aircross crossover, replacing the C3 Picasso multi-purpose vehicle, is expected to find more than 13,000 homes a year in the UK – the C3 Picasso peaked at 10,500.

All by entry model get a seven-inch touchscreen in the fascia. Picture: Citroen All by entry model get a seven-inch touchscreen in the fascia. Picture: Citroen

Looks and image

With the new Citroen Inspired by You campaign rejuvenating the brand, the C3 Picasso’s successor had to be an SUV.

Based on the latest C3 supermini, enjoying soaring sales since its January launch, ground clearance has grown 5cm to 17.5cm for that SUV stance.

Immediately recognisable as a Citroen with the brand’s strong signature face, it’s more muscular in a cute way and boasts 85 mix-and-match colour combinations for the body, roof and cabin and packs for coloured light surrounds, door mirrors, wheel centre caps, venetian blind-effect rear quarter windows and roof bars.

Already large 410-litre boot grows to 520 litre on models with sliding rear seats. Picture: Citroen Already large 410-litre boot grows to 520 litre on models with sliding rear seats. Picture: Citroen

Under the bonnet

Petrol engines suit small cars, especially with drivers deserting diesel, and will power 70pc of models with 82bhp and turbocharged 110 and 130bhp 1.2-litre units.

The 110bhp engine, in five-speed manual and six-speed automatic guise, will be the big seller while the 130bhp version is six-speed manual.

Citroen C3 Aircross colour combinations can really brighten up the interior. Picture: Citroen Citroen C3 Aircross colour combinations can really brighten up the interior. Picture: Citroen

High-mileage drivers are catered for with five and six-speed manual 100 and 120bhp 1.6-litre turbo diesels but they’re gruff compared to the excellent, award-winning PureTech turbo petrols which feel peppier at low revs and much livelier at the top end.

The 110bhp models make good progress but the slickness of the auto is the complete opposite of the manual’s slow, stodgy shift.

How it drives

Colour accents around the lights. Picture: Citroen Colour accents around the lights. Picture: Citroen

The emphasis is on ride comfort rather than rewarding handling, spot-on for most owners’ wishes, but again petrol models are more pleasant to drive.

With the three-cylinder petrol engine, the C3 Aircross feels lighter at the front, turning into corners more crisply but body roll builds with speed.

The petrol models also ride better with less feedback travelling slowly over poor roads with the heavier-engined diesels less supple and more bumpy lumpy though unpleasantly firm.

There’s no all-wheel drive but owners looking to venture off the beaten track can opt for Grip Control and hill descent assist – £400 on mid-spec Feel and range-topping Flair except with the 82bhp engine – for more front-wheel traction with standard automatic, snow, mud and sand modes and turning off stability control.

The exterior colour treatment even extends to the roof bars. Picture: Citroen The exterior colour treatment even extends to the roof bars. Picture: Citroen

Space and comfort

Despite its SUV design, it retains the roominess, comfort and practicality of an MPV, offering class-leading space.

Rear seats split 60/40 and Flair’s rear bench slides through 150mm as standard while £350 buys the family pack of a fold-flat front passenger seat for loads up to 2.4m long, front arm rest, active safety brake, forward collision alert, auto high beam assist and driver attention alert. That pack on Feel is £490 but also gets sliding rear seats.

Six-footers in the back have lots of legroom and there’s still a 410-litre boot, growing to 520 with those rear seats slid forward, and 1,289 with the seat backs flat. All models get a removable panel to create underfloor storage or a deeper boot.

At the wheel

I like the quirky interiors of modern Citroens – they look good without being complicated with a seven-inch touchscreen, on all but the entry-level Touch, to control most functions – and it’s easy to get comfortable at the wheel.

Build quality is also much better than of old, despite a lot of hard plastics, but smart fabric trim panels on the fascia and doors add contrast.

Final say

The C3 Aircross brings Citroen’s distinctive charm to the compact SUV market and it’s a welcome addition. Delve into the wealth of personalisation options and it really stands out and that’s key to getting noticed in this increasingly competitive market.

SPEC AND TECH

CITROEN C3 AIRCROSS 1.2 110 PureTech

Engine: 1,199cc, 110bhp, three-cylinder turbo petrol with five-speed manual gearbox

Performance: 0-62mph 11.3 seconds; top speed 115mph

MPG: Urban 47.9; extra urban 61.4; combined 56.5

CO2 emissions: 115g/km

CITROEN C3 AIRCROSS 1.6 100 BlueHDi

Engine: 1,560cc, 100bhp, four-cylinder turbo diesel with five-speed manual gearbox

Performance: 0-62mph 12.8 seconds; top speed 109mph

MPG: Urban 62.8; extra urban 76.3; combined 70.6

CO2 emissions: 104g/km

Price: £13,995 to £19,525

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,154mm; W 1,976mm; H 1,637mm

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