Citroen’s C3 Aircross is a model that is replacing the French brand’s C3 Picasso
And if buyers want it, car-makers will build it, including Citroen, which is about to launch its C3 Aircross, a model that is replacing the French brand’s C3 Picasso.
More than 65,000 C3 Picasso people-carriers have been sold in the UK since 2009 but a new SUV replacement is seen as much more in keeping with what drivers now want – to the extent that Citroen expects to sell more than 13,200 C3 Aircrosses next year alone.
It’s easy to see why it has so much confidence, as the C3 Aircross is a fun and funky-looking small SUV, with great appeal.
Rounded and chunky, with a host of rugged-looking elements (roof rails, plastic mouldings, skid plates, etc) it looks every inch the modern soft-roader.
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It also offers 85 colour and trim combinations, with contrast roof options and exterior colour packs, which appeals to buyers’ desire for personalisation.
Citroen predicts that as many as 75 per cent of buyers will opt for a petrol-engined model so there are three choices, all versions of a 1.2-litre, threecylinder engine.
The base model produces 80bhp and manages a relatively sedate 0 to 60mph time of 15.6 seconds. The average fuel economy figure is a respectable 55.4mpg, while 116g/km emissions are also low.
Next up is a more powerful 108bhp model (thanks to the addition of a turbo), with a 11.1-second 0 to 60mph time.
The inclusion of a stop-start system helps improve the fuel economy fi gure (despite the extra power) to 56.5mpg and lowers emissions to 115g/km.
There’s also the option of a six-speed automatic gearbox, which lowers fuel economy to 50.4mpg and increases emissions to 126g/km.
On the road this engine with the automatic gearbox copes pretty well even with mountainous roads with challenging inclines.
It’s not powerful but it never felt particularly lacking, while the gearchanges were functionally efficient.
This engine is likely to be the most popular option among buyers, offering a balance of performance and economy.
At the top of the petrol tree is a 128bhp variant that manages a 10.4-second 0 to 60mph, while 53.3mpg and 119g/km aren’t a huge penalty for the additional power.
This also gets a six-speed manual gearbox while the other two petrols make do with just five speeds. On the turbo-diesel side is a 1.6-litre unit, with 98bhp or 118bhp variants.
The lesser-powered version manages the 0 to 60mph sprint in 12.6 seconds, with a 70.6mpg economy figure and 104g/km emissions.
The new car’s price range is between £13,995-£19,720
The higher-powered variant (which has a stop-start system) has a 10.6-second 0 to 60mph, 68.9mpg and 107g/km.
On tight, demanding roads the steering on the C3 Aircross felt light and not entirely linear (there’s a delayed reaction when you start to turn the wheel), while despite its high cabin, the car coped well enough with changes in direction, with surprisingly good body control for a vehicle in this class.
Citroen has a long-standing reputation for producing comfortable cars with a good ride quality.
The C3 Aircross might not have the hydropneumatic suspension famously fitted to the iconic DS model but it certainly rides well and ensures even bumpy off-road style surfaces don’t cause any real discomfort.
Talking of the cabin, Citroen offers five different options, a standard dark grey with four optional colours on the two upper trim levels.
In terms of quality there are a number of different plastics used for the various surfaces, with different textures (some of which feel quite hard and brittle), the overall effect of which is to make the dashboard in particular feel a little busy and fussy, as if the designers couldn’t make up their minds about which one to use.
The big plus about the interior is the feeling of space, the airy cabin accentuated in models that have a full-length glass roof.
Citreon claims that the C3 Aircross is the most spacious in its class and it does feel impressively roomy, with good amounts of knee and headroom in the rear.
Citroen C3 aircross will go on sale in November
The 60/40-split folding rear bench can also be moved 6in forward and back (each section independently too), while the boot has a capacity that varies from 410 litres to 520 litres (and 1,289 litres if the rear seats are folded).
There are three trim levels – Touch, Feel and Flair – with the likes of DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, lane departure warning and cruise control standard on all models.
The two top trims also have a 7-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, while the numerous additional options include grip control with hill descent assist, park assist and wireless phone charging.
The small SUV market is getting pretty crowded, with the likes of Nissan Juke, Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008, plus all-new models from Seat, VW, Hyundai and Kia on the near horizon.
To stand out a car needs to be a strong all-round buying proposition and although there’s nothing about it that makes it obvious in a crowded market, the C3 Aircross still has plenty of admirable qualities.
Citroen claims that the C3 Aircross is the most spacious in its class
Model: Citroen C3 Aircross
● On sale: November
● Price range: £13,995-£19,720
● Engine range: Petrol – 1.2, 1.2 turbo, 1.2-litre turbo 128bhp; Turbo-diesel – 1.6, 1.6-litre 118bhp
● Power: 0 to 60mph in 10.4 seconds, 124mph top speed 1.2 128bhp)
● Average fuel economy: 70.6mpg (1.6TD)
● CO2 emissions range:104-126g/km
● Rivals: Hyundai Kona, Kia Stonic, Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur, Seat Arona
● Rating: 7/10