The French connection is here once more. Saucy Citroën is showing a bit of leg again as it were.
The first of their three new models which we are looking at is the Citroën C3 Aircross which is based on the C3 supermini but with a longer wheelbase and of course a taller stance. It is interesting just how many people said it looks like a Mini to them.
Taking a step back, Citroën have only recently returned to our market after having temporarily withdrawn three years ago when their previous distributor messed up. They are now taking advantage of being part of the big Peugeot – Citroën – Opel group and piggybacking on the existing Peugeot dealer network and spares infrastructure. The Aircross is built at an Opel factory in Spain.
“With its unique body style, personalised features and connectivity, the new C3 is a bold, fresh, modern car. It illustrates the ongoing Citroën product offensive,” said Xavier Peugeot, Citroën Brand Product Director.
The C3 aircross has got good space for this niche and has the largest boot in the segment with a standard volume of 410 litres which can be increased to 520 litres thanks to the split rear sliding seats. The boot is fairly easily accessible via the large-opening tailgate and benefits from a low loading sill.
Total load volume with the rear seats folded down is 1 289 litres.
A nice touch is the dual-height boot floor which provides a flat floor when the rear seats are folded down.
We drove the base or Feel version, which is still a well equipped vehicle. Standard kit includes alloys, LED running lights, cruise, air con, and USB phone mirroring. It runs on 16-inch alloy wheels.
If you need or want navigation (but don’t want to use your phones), keyless entry and start, park assist, 17” wheels and optional sunroof consider the Shine model for around R20 000 more than the Feel trim level we tested, although I think the Feel hits the sweet spot.
The Mirror Screen function including Android Auto, Apple Car Play™ and MirrorLink® lets you take advantage of the multimedia content and apps of your smartphone in safety, by duplicating them onto the 7-inch touch screen for easy use.
This new-generation navigation function comes with connected services such as TomTom Traffic, for real-time traffic information, service station and car park location and prices, weather forecasts, and a local point-of-interest search function.
Annoyingly you have to use the touch screen every time you want to adjust the air conditionioning.
I thought the materials used, layout and seats is geared to make you feel at home. The interior is pleasant and the seats feel comfortable.
The Aircross has decent ground clearance and soft long-travel suspension, with the weight over the driving wheels giving acceptable handling and road holding. The three-cylinder 81kW 1.2 L turbo-petrol mill coupled to a new 6-speed automatic transmission is a little noisy at times but does provide adequate power and fuel consumption of just under 9 L/100km, although Citroën claims 6,5 L/100km.
This car does better in and around town than on sweeping mountain passes, but is a cinch to park and manoeuvre in tight spaces.
The Citroën C3 Aircross Feel is listed at R339 900. The Shine is R359 900. Included in the price is a 5-year or 100 000 km warranty and service plan, courtesy car, guaranteed parts basket and licence renewal reminder.
The Opel Crossland is in fact a sister model to the Aircross. Also look at the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke, New Hyundai Kona, Suzuki Vitara, Kia Stonic and VW T-cross.