Audi Q3 S-line 35 TFSI S-tronic review

She is turbo blue. Very, very blue.

Audi Q3 S-line 35 TFSI S-tronic

She is seriously sassy and has a pair of hips to make das Bavarian Mädchen blush.

Audi’s Q3 is a thing of beauty, from the neatly ironed crease lines to her alcantara trimmings to her stunning dashboard with its oh so smart displays.

Altogether a great work of design. Although I must say I think her mouth is a little big, but let’s not quibble.

Let us also put the elephant in the room to pasture. What with the R152k optional extras fitted to our review car the sticker price is a little eye watering at three quarters of a million Rand, for a subcompact luxury crossover SUV designed for on-road use.

If you have the cash lying around and your heart says yes, you will enjoy this car.

Q3 enjoying the gravel in Betty’s Bay.

I found the engine somewhat laggy and the gearbox a little undecided, but if you are “rustig” and not in a rush, all is well.

Audi claims a 0-100 kph sprint time of 8.9 seconds and it’ll run to a top speed of 204 kph. The Q3 sits well on the road like all Audi’s do and the steering is satisfactory. I got around 7.5L/100km on the open road and around 12L/100km in town, partly perhaps because the little 1.4 engine which puts out 250Nm and 110kW, is working hard (but willingly) to move the relatively large body. Hopefully Audi will add the 2.0L engine soon to the line up. Now that will be a winner.

Audi have chosen wisely in the wheels department, the 18inch 235 x 55 tyres 100v from Hankook give just the right amount of feedback without becoming harsh. A very good compromise and just another example of how well thought out this car is from a design and styling point of view.

The cabin is a pleasure to be in. There are 3 trim levels: Standard, Advanced and S Line. The MMi (multimedia) selector wheel of previous Audis, which was good for inputting instructions when the car was bouncing along a road, has been removed. Personally I think the large touchscreen, good as it is, at the expense of real buttons is a bridge too far. It’s hard to hit the icons with a jiggling finger, however sharp the image may be. One tends to leave fingerprints on the screen as well. Thankfully the climate control retains actual knobs. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster is standard and includes all the information you really need.

The rear legroom is good, partly because the seats can slide backwards or forwards depending what your greatest need is – boot space or leg room. In fact the cabin feels quite roomy.

There are four equipment and two styling packages.

The Comfort package at R21 500 adds electric seats with 4-way support and heating, electrically opening and closing boot gate, and park distance control. The Technology package adds MMi navigation, virtual cockpit plus and ambient lighting at R33 500.

For R34 900 you can get the Sport Package which will give you 19 inch cast alloy wheels, 20-spoke V style, Alcantara/leatherette combination upholstery, headlining in black and  ports contour leather-wrapped steering wheel, 3 spoke, flat-bottomed, with shift paddles and multifunction plus.

Finally the S line Interior Package offers bespoke S line styling elements which add a distinctively sporty look to the interior for R15 900.The Black package changes bright trim to black while the parking package adds a 360° camera and park assist for R26 500.

Pricing

The basic trim level costs R565 000, the advanced line R585 000 and the S line R599 000.
A five-year or 100 000 maintenance and repair plan is included.

Cars offering similar specification or space include the VW Tiguan, Volvo XC40, Jaguar E-pace, Mercedes Bens GLA, Peugeot 3008, Mini Countryman, Kia Sportage and Mazda CX5.

Hyundai i30N launched

Hyundai’s i30 N performance hatchback has been developed with the the theme “Fun to Drive”: Cornering, Race-track Capability and Everyday Sports Car.

Hyundai i30N

Based on the i30 five-door, the i30 N is a very different beast with i’ts own unique design.

The ‘N’ stands for Namyang, Hyundai Motor’s global Research and Development Centre in Korea, and for the world-famous Nürburgring motor racing complex in Germany, home to Hyundai’s European Test Centre where the manufacturer’s models built on the European continent are developed and tested.

The i30 N underwent 10 000 km of driving on the Nordschleife circuit at the Nürburgring to test its durability.

“We aren’t afraid to do things differently here. Our N cars balance performance and practicality so that they are fun to drive every day. Every N car loves cornering, hence the nickname we have given to their character: ‘Corner Rascal.’ Whether it’s urban commuting or track driving, N handles it beautifully,” says Albert Biermann president and head of the Vehicle Performance Division.

The South African version is equipped with a Performance Package that – apart from the other N-features – include the high-output 202 kW turbocharged engine, an Electronically Controlled Limited Slip Differential, a variable exhaust valve system and 19-inch alloy wheels with 19-inch wheels with 235/35R19 Pirelli P-Zero high-performance tyres.

Buttons on the steering wheel alternate the i30 N’s five drive modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, N and N Custom. Each mode changes the car’s character, adjusting the high-performance parameters of the vehicle, including its engine and rev matching.

To help performance the n is equipped with electronically controlled suspension (ECS) and an electronically controlled limited slip differential
Hyundai claim a top speed of 250 km/h and acceleration from 0-100 km/h in just 6.1 seconds. That is all thanks to the powerful T-GDi engine, generating 353 Nm torque from 1 500-4 700 rpm, reaching a maximum of 378 Nm for a brief period when in overboost.

The South African i30 N dealerships are: Belville, Somerset West, Port Elizabeth, Durban South, Pinetown, Umhlanga, Richard’s Bay, East Rand, The Glen, Sandton, Roodepoort, Centurion, Wonderboom and Polokwane.

The i30 N can be serviced at all Hyundai dealerships in South Africa, Botswana Namibia and Eswatini.
Price

The Hyundai i30 N goes on sale at a suggested retail price of R 679 900, which includes a 7-year/200 000 km warranty, roadside assistance for 7-years or 150 000 km, and 5-year/75 000 km service plan. Service intervals are 15 000 km or once a year.

VW Amarok Canyon the most fun Leisure Bakkie

VW Amarok Canyon

The VW Amarok 3.0TDI V6 4Motion Canyon is Leisure Wheels magazine’s Bakkie of the Year.

The German bakkie, up against nine other double cab bakkies for the crown, scored 90.5% ahead of Ford’s Ranger Raptor (86.3%) and Toyota’s Hilux 2.8GD-6 Legend 50 (85.4%). The new competition format revolves around Average Joe’s bakkie requirements, and not flippant matters such as 0–100km/h acceleration times.

Instead, the competition focused on real-world issues such as fuel consumption, load carrying ability, towing, safety, handling, 4×4 ability, interior, long-term ownership and, counting 20% of the overall score, a subjective driving test score, as adjudged by five industry experts and professional drivers.

The Leisure Wheels test lab.

The results are:
1) Volkswagen Amarok 3.0TDI 4Motion Canyon AT 90.5%
2) Ford Ranger Raptor 86.3%
3) Toyota Hilux 2.8GD-6 4×4 Legend 50 (manual) 85.4%
4) Ford Ranger 2.0 Bi-Turbo 4×4 Wildtrak AT 83.4%
5) Mercedes-Benz X350d 4Matic 81.6%
6) Isuzu D-Max 3.0DT 4×4 LX (manual) 78.9%
7) Nissan Navara 2.3D 4×4 Stealth AT 78.8%
8) Mitsubishi Triton 2.4Di-D 4×4 AT 75.9%
9) Mahindra Pik Up 2.2CRDe 4×4 Karoo 70.4%
10) Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Namib 64.2%

The Raptor is wide and has an almost mean stance.

“Our aim with this test was to focus on real-world factors that affect real bakkie owners, and to go the full nine yards establishing those results. For the fuel consumption test, conducted on Gerotek’s high speed oval, we devised a set route that included stop-and-pull-off simulations, full throttle overtaking simulations, as well as slow and high speed laps. We also added 190kg to the bak, so the results are what consumers can realistically expect to achieve, on a daily basis,” explains Leisure Wheels’ Danie Botha.

And what is it about the Amarok that set it apart from the rest of the pack? Is it really perfect in every which way?

“It’s certainly not perfect,” says Botha. “It didn’t score well in the 4×4 ability, long-term ownership and safety segments. But for the rest, it really is a solid, classy package. It seems VW’s engineers worked some kind of magic with the leaf-sprung rear suspension, offering an SUV-like ride on all surfaces. And that V6 engine… here’s a bakkie that will outrun many hot hatches between traffic lights, yet it can carry nearly a ton on the bak.”

The March issue, featuring the comprehensive Bakkie of the Year report, goes on sale on Monday, 17 February. More detailed results in the respective segments will be published on leisurewheels.co.za.

VW T-Cross 1.0 R-Line review

Very soon Volkswagen will offer a full range of SUVs, some will be soft roaders, others like the Tiguan, more capable off the beaten track.
Although the T-Cross is built in Spain, it is interesting that VWSA built 161 954 vehicles in 2019, which is the highest production volume the Uitenhage plant has achieved since it began manufacturing Volkswagen vehicles in 1951.

Of the 161 954 vehicles, 108 422 were manufactured for export and 53 532 were produced for the local market. The production volume consists of 131 365 Polos and 30 589 Polo Vivos.

The T-Cross is the entry level crossover in VWs SUV range. It is not really that capable offroad but on gravel, on the highway and especially in town it does a really good job. It does have a slightly higher road height at 180 mm but for now at least only front wheel drive and at the moment only the little 3 pot 999cc turbo-petrol mill doing duty with one performance level available for now, 85 kW with 200 Nm, more than capable for around town. A detuned 70kW version of this motor and a 1.5 TSI engine with 110kW are on the way. You can order one already.

 

VW T-Cross at Moulie Point

Things to like

  • Looks – she is certainly a looker
  • Size  especially rear leg room
  • Ride is good, but I would prefer 16″ wheels and higher 60 profile tyres
  • Good visibility even for a short driver
  • The cockpit layout in the R-Line is very pleasant and functional. The VW multi-function steering wheel is a joy to use.

 

Little niggles

  • Start button behind gear lever on left
  • Hard plastics
  • Small boot
  • No climate control only air-conditioner, only mentioning it because it is an expensive little car
  • With my driving style I found the car had an irritating pause before the power came on. Its as if it misses a beat.

The optional ‘Energetic Orange’ design package makes the T-Cross truly eye-catching for the very young at heart:

VW T-Cross

• Seat covers in ‘Diag’ design with seat centre and inner sections in Orange and Ceramique
• Décor in ‘Transition’ 3D design in Energetic Orange and Grey
• Design element in steering wheel in Energetic Orange
• Exterior mirror housings in Energetic Orange
• Black 18 inch ‘Cologne’ wheels with Hot Orange finish for T-Cross Highline

Pricing

Note the review car has a few optional extras:

  • KESSY Keyless entry
  • beats® Sound System
  • Park Package (Park Assist, Rear View Camera and Power-fold Mirrors)
  • Infotainment Package (Discover Media: 3D Map, App-Connect, Voice Control, Inductive Charging and Active Info Display)
  • LED Headlights and Rear View Camera
  • R-Line Exterior with 17-inch Manila alloy wheels

The Comfortline we drove costs R334 600 without the optional extras. The extras fitted to our test car cost R70 050, bringing the total cost to R415 035 including VAT.

The 1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSG® costs R365 000 and the 1.5 TSI 110kW R-Line DSG®  is priced at R403 500.

T-Cross side-by-side with a Polo. You can see it is taller, wider and rides substantially higher.

Competition

Renault Duster 1.5dCi TechRoad auto R332 900 ¬- Best buy
• Ford EcoSport 1.0T Titanium auto R357 300
Haval H2 1.5T Luxury auto R329 900 – Good option, facelift just launched
• Mahindra XUV 300 1.5 TD R324 999
Suzuki Vitara 1.4T GLX auto R399 900 – Solid alternative
• Kia Seltos 1.6 EX auto R371 999
• Hyundai Creta 1.6 Exec LE auto R397 900

The warranty for the T-Cross is still only 3 years or 120 000 km.
The small SUV/ crossover market segment is wide open. Take your time and go and test drive a number of cars before deciding, especially the three cars which have been highlighted.

 

 

Citroën is back in 2020

Just when you thought the car market was settling down to enjoy burning fossil fuels for the last lap before the new technology takes over a beloved old marque returns to our shores for a third time. The Citroën brand has officially re-launched in South Africa after exiting the country at the end of 2016. This may have something to do with the new assembly plant in Namibia or with Brexit, or both. Time will tell.

This time as part of the PSA group and as a sister brand to Peugeot and as such will be serviced at any Peugeot Accredited Dealership nationwide.

Style and space seem to be the cornerstones of the new range. The cars certainly look a little different.
The range initially includes three model lines: the C3 hatchback, C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross.

For peace of mind a five-year/100 000 km service plan is included across the range, along with a warranty of the same length. Citroën will share dealership space with its sister brand, Peugeot.

Copyright William CROZES @ Continental Productions

C3 hatchback

“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 is built on the PSA Group A platform and includes a lot of tech like advanced driver assistance systems for lane departure alert and driver attention alert as well as a coffee break alert.

Mirror screen technology duplicates the driver’s smartphone screen directly on the vehicle’s central screen, whether Android or Apple.

The C3 line-up has a pair of 1,2-litre three-cylinder petrol engines, the first offering a naturally aspirated flavoured 60 kW and118 Nm linked to a five-speed manual gearbox and the other a turbocharged engine with 81 kW and 205 Nm mated with a six-speed automatic box.

The manual comes in Feel specification for R239 900, while the automatic is offered in Shine trim (for R289 900). Three body colours will be available – White, Platinum Grey and Sand – each in combination with a red roof.

C3 Aircross

The C3 Aircross, also comes in a choice of three colours: Platinum Grey, Soft Sand and Natural White, complete with “Spicy Orange” trim. There are two variants: Feel and Shine, both using the turbocharged 81 kW version of the 1,2-litre petrol engine linked to a six-speed auto box as standard.

Citroën’s Advanced Comfort® programme for enhanced spaciousness, modular design and brightness is a key element of the Aircross.

The C3 Aircross will cost you R339 900 in Feel trim and R359 900 in Shine.

C5 Aircross

The C5 Aircross SUV is Citroën’s new flagship and a key lever for the international growth of the brand,” says Linda Jackson, Citroën CEO.

The C5 Aircross, which comes in two forms and in three colours, Arctic Steel, Pearlescent White or Platinum Grey). The base model Feel costs R469 900 while the flagship Shine costs R509 900. Both employ the PSA 1,6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine delivering 121 kW and 240 Nm via a six-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels.

Citroën claims the new C5 Aircross SUV is the most comfortable model in its segment, thanks to the Citroën Advanced Comfort® programme, Progressive Hydraulic Cushions® suspension and Advanced Comfort seats. Hydraulic buffers at either end of the suspension setup have all but eliminated bounce from the car’s drive, they say. This could be quite a big deal.

Aircross is highly modular with three individual sliding, folding and reclining rear seats, and best-in-class boot space. With the seats folded down there is 1 630 L, up from the 520 litres of space with seats and as far back as possible. Citroen says it has aimed for maximum practicality, building in cubby holes and stowage spaces all around the cabin.
There’s space inside for five adults.

The Citroën brand has always stood for technical and design innovation and quirky looks. It is the brand for someone who wants something a little different, a little chic.
Vive le difference!

Ford Everest XLT Rrview

The sweet spot in the bakkie based SUV universe may just be held by Ford’s Everest XLT.

Ford Everest XLT

The Everest is a medium to large SUV with all the bells and whistler one could want, and the few goodies it is not equipped with as standard you can add on as optional extras or you can get the Limited Edition.

The Everest is perhaps the best of the large bakkie based SUVs available in SA. It is definitely the prettiest, has the best handling, cleverest packaging and a really good infotainment system. The design and operation of the third row of seats is streets better than the competition.

The interior is practical, well laid out and very comfortable to spend time in. I like the instrumentation which is comprehensive but uncluttered and clear. The cabin is very car like , well finished and uses pleasant materials.

Ford’s Synch3 infotainment system is one of the best on the market. It is easy to use, comprehensive and works first time. A joy to use.

The Everest feels fairly wieldy around town and is easy to park thanks to its various parking aids. Its easy to drive in town and a joy on the highway. A modern Grand Tourer especially in our context where bad roads and sand are to be expected during an extensive tour of especially our game parks and nature reserves.

The newish two litre diesel mill, built in Port Elizabeth, enjoys two turbos giving 500Nm and 157kW coupled to a superb 10-speed gearbox. Having 10 gears means a wider ratio-span, resulting in better acceleration and responsiveness in all driving conditions, matched to improved fuel efficiency of around 10L/100km if your foot is not too heavy. Very nice to drive.

Six models are available in the Everest range, starting off with the XLS 2.2 TDCi which provides an extremely competitive range of standard comfort, convenience and safety features.

Four XLT models are included in the new line-up, with the option of the all-new 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo and Single Turbo engines, along with the current 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi.

I think the Everest is a better package than the Toyota Fortuner, Isuzu MU-x or Mitsubishi Pajero Sport,although the latter handles really well. It hits the sweet spot in this niche.

Bear in mind that you need to consider trim level, in our case XLT, type of engine and turbo set up, in our case 2.0 bi-turbo and 4×2 or 4×4, in our case 4×4.

Ford Everest XLT

Cost: the 2.0 BiT XLT 10AT 4WD we drove is listed at R701 500.

The range starts with the 2.2 TDCi XLS 6AT 2WD at R522 700.

The top-of-the-range 2.0 BiT LTD 10AT 4WD is a slightly eye-watering R776 500, but it is really very comprehensively equipped.

The warranty can be extended to  7 years or up to 200 000 km, but talk to your dealer for exact details. The standard warranty is 4 years /or 120 000km.

 

 

 

Peugeot 108 review

A little French charmer from the Czech Republic – Peugeot’s 108.

PSA, the group which owns Peugeot, Citroën and Opel, has launched the final model in its cleverly thought out local model range which includes a large van, three SUVs and three cars.

The 108 Active is a small hatch or city car which will be competing with the established segment leader, Kia’s Picanto, VW’s Up and Toyota’s Aygo. Interestingly, the 108 and Aygo share a common platform. First introduced in 2005, these city cars are now in their second generation and are built in the same factory in Kolin in the Czech Republic.

Despite the fact that these cars share so many parts, the boot in the Toyota Aygo is slightly smaller than that in the Peugeot 108.

Peugeot offers only one model of the 108 in South Africa, the 5D Active. It is well specced and priced. It seems to be aimed at young first time buyers and older women. As a result it can be customised with eight body colours to choose from, plus themes, special editions and different interior ambiances.

Equipment includes air-conditioning, a simple but good touchscreen infotainment system which is compatible with Apple and Android devices and a good trip computer display. There are three plug points; USB, 12v and Din.

The 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is not turbocharged and produces a paltry 53 kW and 93 Nm. Fuel economy is claimed at 5.2 L/100 km and is not too far out. Expect around 6 to 7 L/100km depending on your driving style. In town the engine feels responsive and the clutch is easy to use. Safety is well looked after and even includes hill hold. The engine is quite noisy during acceleration, but not unpleasantly so.

Ride quality is fair, and almost fun in town. On the long road you will, if you are slightly older or bigger, fairly rapidly sit ‘through’ the seats which are fine but rather lightweight. At speed there is quite a bit of wind and road noise.

I found the little lion cub to be very much at home in the city and easy to live with. You do not need anything more in a city car.

Peugeot says customers who encounter a mechanical issue with their vehicle will be afforded the use of a courtesy car and that replacements parts will be made available swiftly and be competitively priced. Peugeot South Africa is desperate to right wrongs, change preconceptions and restore some pride.

According to Peugeot when you buy a car from them you are joining the pride, based I suppose on the idea of their rampant lion logo. Dubbed ‘Peugeot Pride’, every 108 has a 5-year/100 000 km comprehensive warranty, a 5-year/ 100 000 km service plan, roadside assistance, use of a courtesy car while in for repairs, 24-hour customer care contact centre, licence renewal reminder, as well as service plan and warranty expiry notifications

The Peugeot 108 1.0 Active is priced at R179 900. The comparable Aygo is R177 900 but has no service plan and only a 3-year warranty. On paper the 108 is the better buy, but go and drive the cars before deciding, as the cars have very different personalities.

Ford Ranger Raptor review

The cherry on top of the double cab world. That’s one way of looking at it. VW supporters will argue the V6 Amarok is quicker in a straight drag, and it is. You could argue the MB 190kW X-Class V6 is pretty hot with its 190kW and a peak torque of 550Nm. And you would be quite right.

But. And its a big but.

Ford Ranger Raptor

The Raptor has something special about it.

It is special.

It is a double cab bakkie yes, but it is also a full blooded performance car. And how it performs on gravel and jeep tracks is most gratifying.

The secret is really the long-travel suspension. The rear is taken from the Everest giving it a car like ride but that is just the beginning. Ford and suspension hot shop Fox developed special high performance struts and widened the wheelbase by 150mm.

The cabin has also been finely tuned to reflect its sport bent. Special seats with technical suede, sporty steering wheel paired with lightweight magnesium paddle shifters, blue stitching trim and a top class electronic traction and handling package all contribute to a feeling that you are in a very special vehicle. I love it.

The Ranger Raptor’s Terrain Management System (TMS) includes a Baja mode, inspired by Mexico’s famous Baja Desert Rally, which enables ultra-responsive, high-speed off-road performance. In this mode, vehicle systems like Traction Control are pared back to allow spirited off-road driving without intervention from the vehicle’s on-board systems. Gear selection is optimised for maximum performance, and the mapping will hold gears longer and downshift more aggressively.

The Raptor is wide and has an almost mean stance.

The Raptor is equipped with 7 airbags, ABS with EBD, Electronic Stability Control with traction control, hill start assist, hill descent control, adaptive load control, trailer sway control and rollover mitigation.

Raptor comes in a range of colours of which the grey is my favourite.

A newly developed 2.0-litre bi-turbodiesel engine producing 157 kW and 500 Nm coupled to a ten-speed autobox gives this bakkie loads of performance and fairly good fuel consumption, dependent on the weight of your foot. It is fun to drive. In town, on the highway and most definitely on a gravel track.

Ford Raptor dash

Equipment levels are top class with literally everything you could want as standard.

Is it worth the extra cash? The Raptor has everything included in the sticker price. The Amarok Canyon is R799 000 plus R20k for the satnav infotainment pack. The Mercedes X350 is R904 188 without satnav or park assist etc. so its around a million.

So, if its the right car for you it is almost a bargain at R786 400.

Next year (2020) a new Isuzu bakkie will be launched to take on the Ranger, Amarok, X-class, Navara, Triton and the new bigger Steed, but for now I think the Raptor is the one with that little bit extra – the Mustang of bakkies.

Raptor has a  4-year /120 000 km comprehensive warranty, 5-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty, 3 years of roadside assistance, 6-year/90 000 km service plan with intervals every 15 000 km.

 

 

2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year Finalists

The top 14 finalists for the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year have been announced at an event in Johannesburg on December 4. The next step in the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year journey is the track and road testing of the finalists in March 2020 by 27 of South Africa’s top motoring journalists. The category and overall winners will be announced at an event hosted by AutoTrader in April 2020.

AutoTraderCEO, George Mienie, reveals that members of the public would like to see a win by the Mazda3. “It triumphed in the consumer vote, where we had hundreds of thousands of votes.”

There are some really strong contenders this year. My money is on both the Ford Raptor and the Jaguar I-PACE. I think one of them may win. We have never had an electric car or bakkie as a winner.

2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year Finalists by Category

Family
Mazda3
Toyota Corolla Hatch
Leisure
Citroën C3 Aircross
Peugeot 5008
Toyota RAV4
Volkswagen T-Cross
Lifestyle
Ford Ranger Raptor
Premium Car
BMW 3 Series
Premium SUV
BMW X5
Jaguar I-PACE
Mercedes-Benz GLE
Sports/Performance
Toyota GR Supra
Urban
Hyundai Atos
Suzuki Swift Sport

 

 

Citroën C3 Aircross Feel Compact SUV

The French connection is here once more. Saucy Citroën is showing a bit of leg again as it were.

Citroën C3 Aircross Feel Compact SUV at Audacia on the R44 near Somerset West.

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.

Citroën C3 Aircross Feel Compact SUV

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.