Aircross takes Corsica's turns for better... and expect price of under €21,000 on arrival
First Drive in Corsica: Citroën Aircross
Aside from being the birthplace of Napoleon, the Mediterranean island of Corsica is famous amongst motorsport enthusiasts for hosting the Tour de Corse - France's annual round of the World Rally Championship.
It's known as the 10,000 turns rally due to endlessly twisty routes that constitute much of the island's roads.
So it's perhaps a little surprising that Citroën chose here to launch its new compact crossover SUV - the C3 Aircross.
After all, handling and cornering ability rarely feature on the lists of highlights of such vehicles.
Arriving in Ireland next month, the Aircross is Citroën's new nomenclature for its SUV family. The C3 Aircross will be joined by the end of next year by the larger C5 Aircross.
Indirectly replacing the old C3 Picasso, it has a much more rugged and off-road-capable appearance than its MPV-styled predecessor.
The Aircross is a joint venture with Opel's recently launched Crossland X, sharing much of its architecture, body structure and underpinnings.
Other rivals include the Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 and Nissan Juke, as well as a host of soon-to-arrive challengers such as the Kia Stonic, Hyundai Kona and Seat Arona.
The C3 Aircross differs from the Opel in that it comes with its own petrol/diesel engines as well as a different suspension and steering set-up, which give it a distinctly different feel to the German car.
In fact, on those aforementioned twisty Corsican roads, its ride and handling were a pleasant revelation, gripping well, with responsive steering and surprisingly little body roll, yet offering a supple ride over poorer surfaces.
It's certainly one of the more fun to drive crossovers that we've experienced.
Citroën claims the C3 Aircross is the most spacious in its segment, aided by a family pack option standard on mid-trim models that includes a folding front passenger seat and 60:40 sliding rear bench, complete with ski hatch that can slide forward or back by 15cm.
That gives a boot capacity of between 410 and 520 litres. With the seat pushed back, there's decent legroom for rear seat passengers too.
A minor gripe is that the front passenger seat isn't height-adjustable. If you're a taller person you'll feel you're sitting on rather than in the car.
Other stand-out features and options include a total of 12 driving aids, an opening panoramic glass sunroof and wireless charging for smartphones. There's also a total of 90 different combinations of colours.
There are 82hp and 110hp 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder PureTech engines and a 100hp BlueHDi 1.6 litre diesel with a choice of six-speed manual or EAT6 automatic gearbox depending on engine / spec.
No all-wheel drive, but Citroën offers Grip Control as an option on the top spec model. It includes Hill Descent and will be offered with all-season tyres.
Three trim levels will be offered in Ireland - Touch, Feel and Flair.
Prices are to be finalised, but expect an entry-level model for just under €21,000, adding €1,300 to move up to Feel models and a further €1,700 for Flair trim.
All models are well specced - you get rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, speed limit recognition, air-con and cruise control as standard. Sixteen inch alloys, privacy glass and a 7in touchscreen are included with Feel models, while Flair highlights include a two-tone colour scheme and Colour Pack which features colour-coded roof bars, a Venetian blind effect on the rear three-quarters windows and colour-coded fog lights and wheels.
Citroën hopes that combination of individuality and practicality will make the C3 Aircross stand out from the crowd. Well worth consideration, we think.