Any time the NZ Autocar GM hands over a test car he’s been driving, you can guarantee it’ll be grubby and gasping for gas. So I knew what I was in for when he handed me the keys to the Citroen C3 Aircross. Oddly enough, the mucky exterior worked in my favour because the kids had been bugging me for weeks to wash a car. Why? Because it’s fun apparently. Er, ok you weirdos. It turns out that the fun part doesn’t involve removing the grime from the paintwork but rather seeing who can get Dad the wettest…fun!
With the car (and Dad) somewhat clean, we set about putting the Citroen to use to complete life’s mundane chores of collecting the groceries, attending sports games and returning to the supermarket several times more to pick up the things we forgot on the previous visits. Typical family stuff then. Bundling the kids into the car is easy enough – they were drawn to the funky orange highlights on the exterior for starters – it’s the simple things… But the best part about having a different car in the driveway is all the new stuff they can fiddle with and all the buttons they can push (the horn is a favourite). The inclusion of Isofix mounts makes installing the kids’ car seats a breeze. No kids? No worries. It’s comfy for full-size humans back there too.
The boot features a dual-level floor, and when set to its uppermost position, the space is tight but by lowering it our family of four’s weekly grocery shop fitted perfectly.
We like the different fabrics and finishes used throughout the cabin. Yes, there are some hard plastics about but the surfaces you actually touch, such as the leather-wrapped wheel and fabric-covered armrests, have a quality feel to them. The high-set seats (great for less supple folks) look smart in their tricolour trim and have a La-Z-Boy comfort to them. The addition of a left armrest for the driver is a nice touch.
The nine-inch touch screen has a few hard buttons sited underneath to access the more commonly used functions such as the fan and demisters, while the screen itself is vibrant and simple to use. With big icons you don’t have to be too accurate with your finger jabbing when adjusting the settings or, more importantly, take your eyes off of the road for too long while doing so. Some functions can be controlled by voice commands. It’s not as trick as the system found in a Mercedes for example but you can control the sat nav, tweak the stereo and change the cabin temperature. We found ourselves referring to the head-up display (visible even when wearing polarised sunnies, which is unusual) more than the dials below. One thing we couldn’t rely on was the speed limit information which seemed to get easily confused. Perhaps it’s because our road signs aren’t written in French…
Our time with the C3 AC was spent commuting, running errands and chasing vehicles across the countryside for photoshoots. The engine has a typical triple soundtrack, a little bit rorty, a little bit cheeky which we reckon suits the Aircross. Paired with a six-speed auto, the combo works well, although every now and then the two conspire to produce a bit of turbo/shifter lag from a standstill. Hitting Sport mode all but eliminates this hesitation; it’s just a pity the button is placed almost out of reach on the centre console. With Sport selected, the engine stays in its sweet spot for longer allowing you to make the most of the midrange grunt. We were genuinely surprised with the competent handling even when driven in a manner that no Aircross will likely ever be subjected to. Ride quality is top-notch – it is a Citroen after all.
When we jumped in the Aircross, the average fuel use was reading 7.3L/100km, which is bang on the WLTP claim. After a spirited strop in the countryside and a weekend’s worth of short trips with the family on board, that figure had risen to 8.9L/100km. The turbo’d triple’s tipple of choice is 95 octane so figure on shelling out around $120 to fill the tank (@$2.70ish), which should be good for over 500km of adventures.
Aircross comes with a five-year/100,000km warranty while for those wanting to keep future costs in check, there are two service plans available; 3-years/45,000km or 5-years/75,000km, costing $1590 and $2790, respectively.
There’s a lot of choice in this segment and while many of the competitors can be had for less of an outlay, none is quite as sassy and stylish as the C3 Aircross.
|Model||Citroen C3 Aircross|
|Clean Car Discount||Neutral – $0|
|Engine||1199cc, IL3, T, DI|
|Drivetrain||6-speed auto, FWD|