But the market is awash with small, medium and large new SUVs tracking down customers who have shown their desire to own these high-riding vehicles rather than the previous must-haves of B-segment ‘supermini’ and C-segment lower medium sized hatchbacks.
In reality the new C3 Aircross compact SUV replaces the outgoing C3 Picasso compact MPV and that’s a predictable move as demand for small MPVs has almost entirely disappeared.
The Citroen C3 Aircross prices start at £13,995 and rise through 13 derivatives to £19,720. Specification levels follow those of the C3 Hatchback with Touch, Feel and Flair choices.
Depending on the spec level chosen there is the choice of petrol PureTech 82hp manual, turbocharged 110hp with manual and auto gearboxes and 130hp manual units. The choice of BlueHDi turbodiesel engines are 110hp and 120hp units with manual transmissions. All are front wheel drive but there is the £400 option of Peugeot-Citroen’s Grip Control function with five driving modes and Hill Descent Assist, ideal for the coming winter or mild off-road use year-round.
Dan Bullimore, Citroen UK’s C3 Aircross product manager, expects to sell around 13,200 of these vehicles next year and to put that in context the C3 five-door Hatchback, on which the Aircross SUV version is based will achieve in the region of 15,600 sales.
He anticipates 54% of sales will go to retail customers and 46% to fleet operators including Motability. Petrol engines will be the choice of 74% of users, 90.5% will choose a manual gearbox model and around 6% will choose the Grip Control option.
When it comes to which engines will be the most popular, the 1.2 PureTech 110hp petrol unit will take 35% of sales followed by the 1.6 BlueHDi 100hp turbodiesel. As for the choice of specification, the base Touch level is expected to take just 2% of UK sales, Feel 43% and the top spec Flair 55%.
Citroen say technology is a core theme for the C3 Aircross with 12 different technologies on offer. These include voice controlled 3D navigation, Wireless Smartphone charging, keyless entry and start button, reversing camera, lane departure warning and blind-spot monitoring, colour head-up display, speed sign recognition, intelligent beam headlights, active safety braking, park assist depending on the spec-level and extra cost options chosen.
The striking SUV design is supported by a number of personalisation paintwork options. The exterior bi-tone roof, standard on the Flair trim level and available in three colours, can be complimented by one of the four exterior colour pack options. It also features the instantly recognisable coloured light surrounds, door mirrors, wheel centre caps, rear quarter window and roof bars.
There is a choice of five different interior trim options which include choices of upholstery, dashboard textures, door panel designs and touches of colour on the central console surround, steering wheel, air vents and seat backs.
Citroen believe its customers know what they want, but just to make sure its new C3 Aircross is being made available in a staggering 85 combinations of trim and colours including duo schemes, says Robin Roberts.
Replacing the much loved Picasso snapped up by 65,000 UK drivers in their family-friendly line-up of SUVs, the C3 Aircross is based on the PSA Group’s PF1 platform which underpins the Peugeot 2008 and even the Vauxhall Crossland and Mokka X.
Riding some 5cms higher than the C3 hatchback, the Aircross has a more boxy look and practical interior with a large number of storage spaces and a bootspace extending from a minimum 410 litres via the 60/40 split rear seats to a maximum 1,289 litres, and it will take a 2.4m long load from tailgate to fascia over the flat-folded passenger seat.
There are six engine and transmission options from under £14,000 covering petrol and diesel markets, manual and automatic choices and they reach showrooms on 1 November.
Our first run in the £18,000 110hp 1.2 turbo-petrol 5sp Flair, expected to be the most popular choice, returned an indicated 42.1mpg.
It’s a lively little triple with a light clutch, direct gearchange, easy steering and good brakes and it easily rolled along a short section of motorway on our test route.
With two aboard it struggled at times over some Worc. Hills and it was not as flexible as the 100hp 1.2 turbo-diesel 5sp model we also briefly tested and cost £1,020 more. The oil-burner was slower from standstill but once it hit the 1,750rpm peak torque mark it was much better for overtaking or coping with the give and take roads and we saw 48.6mpg returned. It also seemed to ride better due to the additional engine weight.
Both had good seats and plenty of room for two six-footers infront, it rode well if noisily and visibility was good all round, backed up by parking sensors among its 12 driving aids.
So it’s a clear choice of chevaux for courses with Citroen and its customers.
Citroen C3 Aircross Flair, 1.2 PureTech 110, manual (best selling model) £18,000 + £400 Grip Control option
Engine/transmission: 1.2-litre, PureTech 3-cylinder direct injection turbocharged petrol, 110hp, 205Nm of torque from just 1,500rpm, 5-speed manual
Performance: 115mph, 0-62mph11.3-seconds, Combined Cycle 56.5mpg, (42.1mpg on test), CO2 115g/km
VED road tax First Year £160 then £140 Standard rate, BiK company car tax 22%
Insurance Group: tbc Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles
Dimensions/capacities: L 4,155mm, W 1,765mm, H 1,637mm, boot/load space 410/520/1,289-litres
For: Funky and distinctive exterior styling with its personalisation colour combinations, compact, easy to drive and park, comfortable seats and compliant ride, versatile seating/load carrying combinations, award winning PureTech petrol engine options
Against: Not as dynamic to drive in terms of handling and agility as some specifically designed compact SUVs rather than this tall MPV/SUV design combination, choose options with care otherwise it becomes a small vehicle with a big price.
© David Miles & WheelsWithinWales