Wednesday 22 November 2017

Can funky Aircross set trend?

Neat: Citroen hopes to attract downsizers with its Aircross
Neat: Citroen hopes to attract downsizers with its Aircross
Campbell Spray

Campbell Spray

Citroen prides itself on style and innovation, but has let other marques get a foothold in the small SUV market which is becoming increasingly crowded and competitive.

Its new C3 Aircross, which will go on sale later in the year, now faces an uphill battle to gain sales. French rival Renault is the leading marque here with the Captur and Opel's Mokka is also selling well.

The new C3 Aircross will appeal to those who like the new funky style that has put small MPVs out of business and is gaining ground against saloon, hatchback and estate models.

The SUV/Crossover style now accounts for over 15pc of sales in the supermini class.

Citroen is coming to the showrooms claiming to be the most spacious SUV in the segment and boasts that there is great scope for customisation - a feature dear to the hearts of young trendies who will be the main target buyers, although economy and high seating will be the lure to attract downsizes who are also in Citroen's sights.

High reliance is being placed on the attractiveness of clean sweeping lines, high- end technology and comfortable seating and cabin surroundings. There is even an advanced comfort pack to attract downsizers.

Thankfully gone are the airbump door protectors, which did little to enhance the C3, with the emphasis on a high beltline, a strong new face and roof rails to give the crossover look. There is a choice of wheels and stand-out paint colours.

The roof comes in shades of body colour, white, black or 'spiced orange' and you can also twin that with different colours for the foglamp housings, wing mirrors, roof rails and rear panel inserts.

Inside it's a similar affair with a whole range of fabrics and trims on offer - some as options.

The Aircross will be in the showrooms in a matter of weeks to tempt 2018 purchasers but no prices have been announced yet.

To be competitive at entry level, expect prices to be in the region of €19,000 but a long list of optional specifications will push prices up by a good few thousand euro.

Coming in 2WD only, there will be two PureTech high-economy engines on offer - 82bhp and 110bhp.

The diesel option is a 110bhp power plant which will be the most economical but will add to the sticker price. Citroen expects 75pc of sales to be petrol models. There is an option of a 6-speed automatic transmission with the 110bhp engine.

Among the list of options is Grip Control which helps the front-wheel drive in slippery conditions.

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To improve interior space versatility, the rear bench seat slides and has a 60/40 split to cater for more legroom or increased luggage space as required.

The Citroen SUV offensive will continue with a C5 Aircross on the cards within months.

Sunday Independent

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