Tested: 2022 Citroën C3 Aircross

Before we even get started, I have to caution you that at this point in time – about mid-2022 – there are still no Citroën dealers in Namibia. Bummer, as this latest C3 Aircross is a funky little crossover…

As is customary nowadays, this extremely stylish and recently updated wannabe-SUV comes from a multi-brand stable and shares some of its DNA with a cousin or two. In this case, they’re called Peugeot 2008 and Opel Crossland, which are also built on the “PF1” platform developed by their mother ship, PSA.

The local (South African) importers kept the C3 Aircross fairly simple with just two models: something called “Feel” for about R415,000 and this fancier “Shine” derivative for around R440,000. That’s it. The only differences between these two models are cooler lights, funkier textures or some keyless toys.

Both versions use the same drive train: a 1.2L in-line 3-cylinder turbo-petrol engine with a humble power output of 81kW at 5,500rpm but slightly more impressive torque potential of 205Nm at just 1,500rpm. All that relatively impressive low-down grunt gets sent to the front wheels by a ponderous yet smooth 6-speed automatic gearbox.

Like other turbo threes these days, the soundtrack isn’t half bad either, plus I found that it really does its utmost to produce momentum at low engine rpm’s; aided and abetted by the well-stacked six-shot auto-box. This translates into a pretty relaxed power deliver at everything except break-neck speeds.

Put your foot down all the way and this extremely stylish mini-SUV should pass 100km/h in 10.7 seconds; our best effort back in 2020 was not far off at 11.14. Back then we also noticed that these engines shy away from high rpm’s, reluctantly spinning to their power peak if you really whip them.

At anything less than full throttle, the rather relaxed gearbox shifts up earlier to land you back in meaty mid-range torque territory. And while it also offers a manual mode, we found the shift points to be well-balanced; hanging onto short ratios a little longer during pull-away or up an incline.

Zipping around town or cruising on the motorway feels easy and – with an extra degree of right-foot restraint – Citroën alleges that you’ll use just 6.5L/100km from the 45L tank. As can be expected, we saw consumption in the high sevens but predict that a careful driver or seasoned commuter should hit the maker’s claim.

Whoops, have I been babbling on about kilonewtons and horses per minute? My apologies. One of the biggest purchase decisions for potential buyers will be this car’s almost alien design language. There’s an overall theme of roundness to most shapes but sufficient quirky details to prevent it looking like a balloon.

Some personal highlights include the freaky amount of front grills and lights, cool double-spoke alloys, rear light cluster mascara, three oversized rear bumper pads, chrome-ringed black enamel rear badge, satin silver cabin highlights, strange air vent décor and sporty steering wheel.

The fabric-clad furniture is very comfy and – in true French fashion – so is the ride quality. Rear passenger space is ok-ish and the boot can hold between 410L and 1,290L of luggage. My only personal gripe is that the matt media screen is rather limited in functionality (especially ventilation) but offers a photo gallery menu. What for?

Anyway, each C3 Aircross is shipped with a 5-year/100,000km warranty and 3-year/60,000km service plan. That’s pretty normal these days, but the vehicle’s looks and price are certainly not! Such a pity that we don’t get these crazy crossovers in our beautiful country.

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