By Stewart Smith on 2017-09-25 - Stewart was the former motoring editor of the Coventry Telegraph and is now a freelance contributor to Eurekar. He is based in Scotland and specialises in First Drive reviews.
Citroen C3 Aircross
set to fly high
CITROEN is rightly famous for producing motors with styling flair a little bit out of the ordinary and its latest offering, the C3 Aircross compact SUV, hits just the right note.
This is a vehicle which should appeal to the younger element looking for a stand-out vehicle.
Smaller SUVs have become all the rage in the motoring world and the Citroen C3 Aircross will be competing with the likes of the Nissan Juke, Kia Stonic, Hyundai Kona and SEAT Arona, so the competition will be fierce.
It is ready to order now with deliveries in the UK starting in November.
But on looks alone, the Citroen gets my vote, with its chunky go-anywhere looks including rear skid plates, flared wheel arches, attractive alloy wheels, a low and wide air intake at the front and roof rails.
There's even a 'Venetian blind' pattern in the rear side window, a distinctive feature which helps to keep the sun's rays away from the back seat passengers.
The C3 Aircross comes with high ground clearance and up to 17-inch wheels which makes it suitable for gentle off-road use.
There's a lot of choice as to how this new SUV looks. It comes in three trim levels, Touch, Feel and Flair, and is offered with up to 90 colour combinations, featuring eight body colours, four roof colours and a choice of four colour packs.
It can also be specified with a panoramic glass roof.
The interior is equally impressive with reasonable quality seating, including a rear bench seat which can be slid forward or back to offer flexibility and leg and headroom are good.
In typical Citroen fashion, the handbrake is unusually styled and there's the option of a head up display.
For family motoring the C3 Aircross, produced in Zaragoza in Spain, has the largest boot in this compact SUV class.
The standard volume of 410-litres can be increased to 520-litres with the rear bench in the fully forward position. Total load volume with the rear seats folded down flat is an impressive 1,289-litres.
It also comes with a removable luggage shelf that can be stored in a vertical position behind the rear bench.
A further touch is the dual-height boot floor which provides the option of a flat floor with the rear seatbacks folded and the front passenger seat can be folded down to transport long objects.
I found the interior very comfortable with a good high driving position, although, as with many SUVs, the wide front pillars were a bit obstructive on the extremely twisty mountain roads on the test route in Corsica.
The controls are well laid out and easy to understand and on the Feel and Flair models you get a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system incorporating Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, leather steering wheel plus LED daytime running lights.
On the top range Flair, Citroen has added items such as keyless entry, auto wipers, rear parking sensors, electric rear windows, and an integrated sat nav in the touchscreen.
As far as engines go the C3 Aircross is offered with a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine with three cylinders offering 81bhp, 109bhp and 130bhp.
Four-cylinder 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesels are in the line-up with outputs of 98bhp and 118bhp.
The 129bhp petrol and 118bhp diesel come with a six-speed manual and the lower powered petrol can be specified with a six-speed auto.
Emissions range from 104g/km for the 98bhp diesel which works out to an official fuel return of 70.6mpg to 126g/km (50.4mpg) for the PureTech auto. The PureTech 110 Aircross is rated at 56.5mpg with a CO2 figure of 115g/km.
Depending on the specification you choose, the C3 Aircross offers a goodly range of standard and optional safety and comfort equipment including reversing camera, keyless entry, park assist, blind spot monitoring, head-up display, lane departure warning, speed sign recognition, grip control and hill descent.
As far as the driving experience goes I was impressed with the handling of the Aircross on a demanding hilly route.
Despite its size and high-riding posture it coped well with some pretty serious mountain roads with very little body roll on the sharpest of bends and, as you would expect from Citroen, the suspension ironed out all but the worst of potholes and broken surfaces.
The petrol model would probably be my choice and Citroen UK expects that around 60 per cent will go for them but it's not to say I didn't find the diesel I drove to be far behind in driving fun.
Prices for the new C3 Aircross start at just under £14,000 for the PureTech 82 manual and rise to £19,720 for the BlueHDi 120 manual with stop/start.
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