Citroen C3 Aircross

Flair BlueHDi 120

Citroen C3 Aircross, front static
Citroen C3 Aircross, front
Citroen C3 Aircross, front
Citroen C3 Aircross, rear
Citroen C3 Aircross, side static
Citroen C3 Aircross, rear
Citroen C3 Aircross, interior
Citroen C3 Aircross, rear action
Citroen C3 Aircross, dashboard

CITROEN is a firm that's really firing on all cylinders at the moment - if you'll pardon the crude analogy.

The French car maker was for many years famed for its originality and design flair but subsequently went off a little off the boil, erring more towards the mainstream and producing cars that really didn't look all that different to rivals.

Things started to get back on track with cars in its DS range - which has now become a separate luxury sub-brand - but since then models like the all-conquering C4 Cactus have demonstrated Citroen can dare to be different while also reaping dividends.

The C3 Aircross is the latest of its quirky creations and should do well.

Essentially it's a compact SUV that's very much out on its own in many ways, though it has plenty of competitors to contend with.

Given SUVs have proliferated so successfully it's natural to assume they should come in all shapes and sizes and while once the idea of a compact SUV might have seemed almost laughable there are now a fair few to choose from and no doubt more are on the way.

Citroen will have the likes of the Nissan Juke, Kia Stonic, Hyundai Kona and Seat Arona in its sights.

One of the C3 Aircross's great strengths are looks which combine elements of traditional SUV-style chunkiness and ruggedness with something altogether modern and different.

The C3 Aircross has an imposing upright stance that belies its relatively small size and those looks are further accentuated by a raft of features which help it really stand out.

Flared wheel arches with plastic cladding, a large air intake, a sharp looking grille and roof rails all add to the Aircross's exterior character.

One of the more unusual design elements are the ‘Venetian blinds' in the rearmost windows. No surprise that these are not actually blinds per se, but patterns that have a dual-purpose style and substance element.

Again, they help to define the character and individuality of the car but the pattern is also designed to shield rear seat passengers from the rays of the sun on hot days.

On the inside the Aircross also has something of a big car feel, which is quite a clever trick to pull off given it is essentially quite a small car.

The driving position is high, giving that essential SUV feel and the cabin feels exceptionally open and roomy, enhanced by the fact there is a lot of glass.

Instrumentation and switchgear are modern and the quality feels and looks decent too.

Three trim levels are available, Touch, Feel and Flair and the Aircross also offers lots of customisation opportunities through mix and match colour schemes.

Opt for the higher-specced Feel and Flair models and many features are controlled through the seven-inch touchscreen which is impressively intuitive and easy to navigate your way around.

On this car it operated entertainment functions, navigation, a Bluetooth connected phone and more besides.

As always with modern Citroens there are one or two funky features which catch the eye, the stand-out one here being the aircraft-style handbrake. While it's distinctive and different it doesn't appear out of place or over-sized.

Rear seat passengers have ample room, which can be adjusted with a sliding rear bench, allowing you to have more legroom and less boot space or vise versa.

Load-lugging capacity is impressive with either set-up - 410 litres or 520 litres.

This range-topping Flair model came very well equipped and felt suitably luxurious it has to be said.

Touches such as a leather covered steering wheel (which also comes on the Feel model) certainly enhanced the driving experience.

The Flair also comes with keyless entry, automatic wipers, rear parking sensors, electric rear windows, and an integrated sat nav.

It also featured decent and useful safety features, including a reversing camera, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning.

This model also had one of the most powerful engines available in the Aircross - a 118bhp version of the 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel. It is also available with 98bhp.

Petrol options, which will probably prove more popular with most buyers, are a range of power variants of a 1.2-litre three-cylinder unit offering 81bhp, 109bhp and 130bhp.

To drive the C3 Aircross is perfectly decent and has just enough of the fun factor too.

While not overtly sporty, the higher-powered diesel engine brings and impressive turn of pace and it goes around corners nicely enough, albeit with a slight bit of roll due to the increased ride height.

This car also had the optional grip control system which improves traction in adverse conditions such as snow and ice. At £400 extra it is good value and brought added reassurance during the recent Arctic weather spell.

The range starts at just under £14,000 for a PureTech 82 petrol manual with this extensively equipped range-topper costing £19,720.

Overall the C3 Aircross is a car with character by the bucket-load which should do well for Citroen.

FAST FACTS

Citroen C3 Aircross Flair BlueHDi 120

Price:£19,720

Mechanical: 118bhp, 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

C02 emissions: 107g/km

Bik rating: 23%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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