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ROAD TEST: Citroen C3 Aircross

Of all car manufacturers, Citroen has probably advanced the most in terms of design and innovation. The new Citroen C3 Aircross is a case in point, writes motoring editor Ian Strachan.

The French manufacturer has loaded this compact SUV with lots of big car extras. Not so long ago it would have been unheard of to get head-up display, lane assist, speed limit recognition, hill start assist and 17 inch alloys on a car of this size. But the C3 Aircross gives you all of that.

Plus you can have a £400 grip control option which gives enhanced traction for all types of terrain. Working though the vehicle’s electronic stability system it delivers ideal traction to each of the front wheels using five selectable modes. I tested the Aircross in a week of snow and ice, and it didn’t put a wheel wrong in conditions which were finding many other cars lacking.

The C3 Aircross has somewhat quirky looks, particularly in the attractive Soft Sand paint colour of my test vehicle, with black roof and bright orange roof rails and door mirrors. It’s rugged and distinctive, and has a surprisingly spacious interior. The overall appearance on the Flair specification which I tested was helped by smart 17 inch alloy wheels. The orange trim is a no-cost option and means you’re not going to lose this vehicle in a car park.

I drove the three cylinder 1.2 litre petrol-powered C3 Aircross. The turbocharged and inter-cooled 110 horsepower engine is willing, smooth and quiet. Married to an impressively smooth automatic gearbox it gives effortless performance. Citroen’s automatic gearboxes have certainly moved on from the lumpy gearboxes of the past.

The interior is pleasant to look at and pleasant to be inside. Styling is attractive and  has lots of personality to match its rugged exterior.

The seats are more comfortable and supportive than many cars in this class.  The centrally mounted seven-inch touch-screen for controlling air conditioning, radio and media and the satnav system is slick and easy to use.

Storage space is generous, with big door bins front and back. Leg and headroom is more than adequate and boot space is generous.

There are some clever touches around this Citroen and I Iike it a lot. Fuel economy is respectable, returning 50.4 miles to the gallon in mixed driving.

On the road, the C3 Aircross handles extremely well. The power assisted steering is sensible – always giving you good contact with the road. Cornering is positive and effortless with none of the fussiness you sometimes get from a smaller car.

Automatic dual zone air conditioning, keyless entry and ignition with remote central locking, six-speaker RDS DAB radio/MP3 player with Bluetooth compatibility, Apple CarPlay and media streaming, Citroen Connect wifi and USB socket,  gear efficiency indicator and speed limit recognition, rear parking sensors, head-up display, electric windows, automatic wipers and headlights and electric, heated door mirrors are all standard.

This is a good, eye-catching package which is well worth the £19,200 on the road price. Extras on my test car included metallic paint (£520), opening panoramic roof (£950), park assist (£600), grip control (£400) and an uprated stereo (£650).

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