Citroen has one of

the best small SUVs

Citroen C3 Aircross, 18-plate, front
Citroen C3 Aircross, front quarter
Citroen C3 Aircross, profile
Citroen C3 Aircross, rear quarter
Citroen C3 Aircross, interior
Citroen C3 Aircross, interior rear
Citroen C3 Aircross, dynamic
Citroen C3 Aircross, boot

A self-satisfied loudmouth I overheard in a pub recently boasted about lane hogging on the motorway. 'I get into the middle lane at 70 and stay there for the whole trip' he told a group of obviously bored friends.

He was what Liverpool police call a CLOC - a member of the Centre Lane Owner's Club - and since the law was changed, they and many other forces are prosecuting lane hogs like him who don't pull over when there is space to their left.

Now when the motorways or dual carriageways are overcrowded - as so many are - there is often little or no opportunity to keep left even from the outside lane.

But driving back from Somerset the other Sunday, there was light traffic for much of the way and hundreds of CLOCs hogged the middle and even the outside lane for mile after mile.

Don't be a lane hog. Move over and let quicker traffic pass - it really isn't hard.

For that trip to see friends, I was driving the excellent Citroen C3 Aircross, a brilliant smaller SUV that has space for five at a pinch, even though four adults would be more the mark for any longer journey.

It is a wonderfully comfortable car over all surfaces at speed only becoming slightly more unsettled over poor town roads, and even then, its better than most other cars of the same size.

Citroen has returned to its roots with all the latest crop of cars, majoring on comfort but still managing to give them good, safe handling and road holding.

There isn't too much roll in the corners and that helps towards tenacious grip even over poor surfaces. The handling is also very good, with precise steering and very good front to rear balance.

This plus the performance of the 1.2 turbo petrol engine makes it a hoot to drive. Acceleration in the lower four gears is marvellous and both fifth and sixth can also be used to increase speed, but only above about 2,000 revs, because there is some thrum from the little three cylinder under that.

That engine is available in two power outputs - 110 and 130bhp - and I drove the more powerful model, which comes with a six-speed gearbox. As the revs rise, it is smooth and sweet sounding yet quiet and refined when cruising.

Over the 360 miles I covered, it averaged 39.5 miles per gallon, which has to be very good in the real world. The government figure under the latest WLTP calculations, is 45.7.

That economy may not seem as good as many would think but its a tall vehicle and has to push a lot of air out of the way.

However, that tall stance gives a fairly high driving position, so there is an excellent view all round and the seats are very comfortable, with reasonable support for the corners.

The funky and stylish interior has bright orange-red inserts in the fresh air vents and steering wheel and the full sweep main dials with fuel and temperature gauges are easy to see and to use.

Mid-range Feel trim gives you air conditioning, an alarm, traction control, keyless entry and starting, loads of airbags and split folding back seats that are also individually adjustable for more legroom.

It also has audio remote and phone controls on the steering wheel, plenty of seat and column adjustment, alloys and cruise - but the controls for this are all but invisible behind the steering wheel.

Another slight difficulty I had was with the screen. It has buttons incorporated in the touch area and they are very difficult to use on the move.

FAST FACTS

Price: £20,100

Mechanical: 130bhp, 1,199cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 122mph

0-62mph: 8.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 44.7

Insurance Group: 20

C02 emissions: 119g/km

Bik rating: 28%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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