In a world of often-boring sameness, Citroën has regularly been able to come up with left of centre automotive designs from the radical to just plain funky.
The Citroën C3 Aircross is one of those funky designs, described by Mr W Junior as a ‘technicolour hippo’, which is not at all disparaging but, rather aptly paints a picture of a solid, balanced, muscular and powerful entity unlikely to be cowed by the aggressive posturing of others in the same playground.
I thoroughly enjoyed the looks of the Aircross with its day-glo colour accents inside and out, and it certainly was a conversation starter at the watering hole I rarely visit.
Citroën describes it thus: “New C3 is audacious by design, with a strikingly unique morphology whose keynote features are a high-standing, charismatic front end and generous curves, producing a powerful, energetic posture. The slick, smooth outline, graphic signature and cool colours make New C3 an undeniable trend-setter.”
For the two-tone exterior, the red roof, red fog lamp surround, red wing mirrors, rear C pillar graphic and Airbumps are appeased with the red and grey ambience along the dashboard and seat stitching.
Inside, the interior feels remarkably spacious, a sensation enhanced by the upholstery and uncluttered horizontal dashboard.
I did find the colour stripes on the rear three-quarter windows interfered with visibility – this probably more evident to those of us who still rely on old-school methods of reversing and parking. I dare say younger eyes would also be able to ‘tune out’ the strips more rapidly and efficiently than older ones ravaged by years of sitting in front of a computer screen.
But then, this car is designed with those younger folk in mind.
The high-standing front end is strong and compelling, giving a powerful impression of robustness with a horizontally balanced outline right through from the waist. The resulting vehicle posture looks natural and steady. The fluid curves and muscular flanks lend vigour and power.
With Citroën’s characteristic two-tier front light signature, the car seems to look upward, enhancing the impression of bonnet height (and hippo analogy). The double chrome bar underlining the chevrons run right through to the LED daytime running lamps, enhancing the impression of width.
Body surfaces are fluid and non aggressive (again the hippo), extending down over the wheels, which have a large diameter for any car in this segment (640 mm), the large 17-inch wheels also contribute to vehicle comfort,
The visual impression of width, in the dashboard and seat design, is confirmed by the actual shoulder width of 1 379 mm (2 cm more than on the previous model). Boot volume is now 300 litres.
It comes with a three-cylinder 1,2-litre PureTech turbo-charged engine offering 81 kW of power at 5 500 r/min and 205 Nm of torque at 1 500 r/min, driving through a six speed auto transmission.
My test cycle produced an average fuel consumption of 6,7 l/100 km with rural use going up to 8,2 l/100 km in heavy traffic conditions.
Despite the engine sounding a smidgen like a diesel-driven Singer sewing machine as it climbs through the rev range, it is not an unpleasant or intrusive note – just a reminder of something working hard up front and quite enjoying the job.
It takes a leisurely 10,8 seconds to get from rest to 100 km/h but, hey, who’s in a rush? The seats are comfortable, there is a quality sound system, the forward vision allows ample pothole warning and the whole ambience is geared to making it from ‘A’ to ‘B’ a stress-free experience.
Once on the plane, the C3 Aircross will burble along happily and its cornering manners are of the well-behaved type. Although there is some body lean when pushed a little, it is not disconcerting or uncomfortable and the car responds quickly to steering commands.
It comes with an array of assistance, safety and comfort technologies including Mirror Screen technology for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.
Hill-Start Assist helps with pull away from standstill on gradients steeper than 3%, Lane Departure Warning helps guard against driver drowsiness and momentary inattention, at speeds from 65 km/h and Driver Attention Alert warns the driver after two hours’ uninterrupted driving at speeds above 70 km/h it is time to take a break.
It also comes standard with the Citroën Serenity plan offering a 5-year / 100 000 km warranty and service plan.