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Why this car is unlike any other

Small SUVS are 20 cents a dozen these days – every car brand has one – but Citroen’s C3 Aircross brings a combination of style and substance few can match. But there is one big catch.Here is everything you need to know about the C3 Aircross.VALUECitroen has heavily curated its C3 Aircross menu – offering…

Small SUVS are 20 cents a dozen these days – every car brand has one – but Citroen’s C3 Aircross brings a combination of style and substance few can match. But there is one big catch.

Here is everything you need to know about the C3 Aircross.

VALUE

Citroen has heavily curated its C3 Aircross menu – offering just one well equipped version priced at $32,990 (before on-road costs) or about $37,000 on the road. The only option is a choice of metallic paints.

This entry-level price puts the C3 Aircross out of reach of most buyers in this segment and well above News Corp’s Car of the Year winning Skoda Kamiq at $29,990 drive-away.

But there is plenty of standard kit with buyers treated to unique alloy-wheels and plenty of convenience features.

Head-turning style with a cool and fashionable contrasting roof and back window venetian-blind like decals – give the feeling the C3 would fit right in at a Paris Fashion Week installation.

Citroen guarantees the C3 Aircross for five years/unlimited km. Servicing costs are extreme at $2623 over five years.

COMFORT

For a car clearly aimed at a young urban driver, the C3 Aircross ticks all the boxes to make it an appealing package.

Connectivity is taken care of by Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and satnav accessed through a seven-inch touchscreen. Buyers will enjoy the wireless device charging pad and heads-up display.

There is a few oddities in the cabin including the unique handbrake that looks like its from a 747 jumbo jet and a gear shifter that doesn’t simply go backwards to change driving mode but shifts in a jagged, unfamiliar way.

Cloth seats lack the heating function of most top-shelf rivals, but are firm and supportive. Front seat vision is good thanks to a high seating position.

Back seat room is great, but passengers will have to survive on rations with no aircon vents and only one 12-volt charger.

SAFETY

Safety is a big selling point in this segment and Citroen has kitted out the C3 Aircross commendably.

Standard driver aids including auto emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, auto headlights and rain sensing wipers, reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors.

The C3 Aircross received a five star crash rating in Europe and the amount of standard safety gear means it would get similar marks in Australia.

DRIVING

On paper the C3 Aircross doesn’t sound like a great drive, but on the road it surprises.

The combination of a little 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine (81kW/205Nm) and a slick six-speed auto work well together. While this sounds underpowered, it is ample to move the C3’s model-esque 1200kg.

It isn’t overly fast off the mark, but it feels zippy around town and the three-cylinder turbo has a gruff and charming grumble.

Light and direct steering coupled with a supple ride and well insulated cabin make for a commute that leaves you smiling. Plus its small dimensions make it nimble and ideal for tight inner city streets and older car parks.

Fuel use is rated at 6.6L/100km, which is a lot thirstier than VW’s and Skoda’s offerings that return about 5L/100km. It’s closer to Mazda CX-3’s 6.1L/100km, but you will need to fill the Citroen with more expensive premium unleaded.

VERDICT 3.5/5

The C3 Aircross has as the French say, a certain “Je ne sais quoi” – an intangible quality it is hard to put your finger on.

There is nothing quite like the C3 among its rivals. It has a combination of style and substance that rivals don’t, but whether it’s worth the extra spend is up for debate.

ALTERNATIVES

Volkswagen T-Cross Style, from $32,990 drive-away

Sweet driving and polished styling. Cabin a bit underdone and DSG auto can be clunky at low speeds.

Skoda Kamiq, from $29,990 drive-away

Extremely well equipped at a bargain basement price. Huge wheelbase provides ample interior space. DSG can be indecisive off the mark.

Mazda CX-3 Akari LE, from about $37,990 drive-away

Very well equipped with a classy cabin and ample safety. Cramped cabin.

CITROEN C3 AIRCROSS VITALS

Price: From $32,990 before on-roads

Engine: 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol, 81kW/205Nm

Warranty/servicing: 5-year, u’ltd km / $2623 over 5 years

Safety: Five-stars, auto emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, speed sign recognition, auto headlights and wipers, reversing camera

Thirst: 6.6L/100km

Boot: 410L

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