2013 CITROEN C4 AIRCROSS REVIEW
What's Hot: Uniquely styled, fairly priced, more upmarket feel than ASX basis.
What's Not: No diesel or manual option, lacks multimedia screen inside.
X-Factor: Euro-chic SUV for 3/5ths the price of a base Evoque.
Model classification: Small SUV
Drive-away Price: Exclusive 4x2: $31,990 | Exclusive 4x4: $33,990
Engine/transmission: 2.0 litre DOHC petrol/ CVT (with manual mode and paddles)
Fuel consumption l/100km listed: 7.9 4x2; 8.1 4x4 | tested: 9.4 4x2; 10.1 4x4
Citroen’s C4 Aircross compact crossover has been on sale locally since July 2012, but you’d be hard pressed to know it.
Citroen’s previous local importer Ateco Automotive managed to sell just 80 C4 Aircrosses before new distributor Sime Darby Motors took over the reins in February this year.
Sime Darby has acted quickly to boost sales across the entire Citroen lineup, shuffling specs and adjusting prices on several of the French carmaker’s models.
In the case of the Aircross, it scores a standard reversing camera and drive-away pricing for a limited period.
The 2.0 litre petrol/CVT auto combination remain the sole drivetrain choice though, paired with the Exclusive trim level.
Pricing of the Aircross’ two variants sits close to equivalent ASX and 4008 models, but differs in several spec details and mechanical calibrations.
Sime Darby invited TMR along to sample both Aircross variants at its recent national press re-launch.
Inside, the Aircross will be familiar to anyone who’s driven an ASX or 4008, and is near identical to the latter.
Like the 4008, there is a more upmarket feel than the ASX can manage with more soft-touch plastics, and piano black detailing to the centre stack and leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The familiar switchgear presents no ergonomic concerns and the front seats are comfortable and supportive.
Rear seating remains a pinch for adults but not likely to draw complaints from children.
Dark cloth trim is the default choice, but heated, electrically adjusted leather seating is available for a further $2500.
Standard features include a multifunction steering wheel, height and reach adjustable steering, cruise control, auto-dimming rear view mirror, climate control, six-speaker audio with USB, bluetooth, and auxilliary connectivity, trip computer, and LED daytime running lights.
Curiously absent is a multimedia screen display, with a simple seven-segment display for clock and audio info. Alternatively, the similarly-priced ASX Aspire scores a 6.1 inch touchscreen.
Rear parking sensors combine with the new reversing camera, and its display is set within the rear-view mirror, and the camera itself is rather untidily tacked onto the number plate frame.
The Aircross’ 215mm 16-inch spare tyre is not a fully-fledged spacesaver type, but still necessitates an 80km/h top speed.
ON THE ROAD
Citroen’s extensive drive route took us through heavy traffic, motorway cruising, rolling country roads, through to rough fire trails and a shallow water crossing.
Proper SUV territory in other words.
It highlighted Citroen’s unique chassis calibrations for the Aircross.
A key element of this are the unique damper settings, which provide a more upmarket ride - a perception which failed to deteriorate as the roads became rougher.
This firm but controlled ride is paired with standard 18-inch alloys, wrapped in 225/55 tyres that provided ample grip on test.
Two-wheel drive Aircrosses weigh in at just 1395kg, contributing to nimble direction changes with little bodyroll (considering its crossover ride-height).
The Aircross’ uniquely calibrated steering is nicely weighted at slow speeds, reducing the dead on-centre tendency of the ASX.
Citroen has paid close attention to noise insulation for the Aircross, but the CVT auto still makes its presence known when higher revs are called for.
On the dirt, we were able to explore the Aircross’ stability and traction control calibration. It's about right, allowing a little slide (to break through the soft surface layer) before subtle intervention.
With the AWD variant, drive can be varied between 2WD, on-demand AWD, and 50/50 locked AWD via a console-mounted knob.
Citroen claims 0-100km/h performance of 10.2 seconds for the 4x2 variant, and 10.9 for the 65kg heavier 4x4.
Seat-of-the-pants assessment supports these claims, and we found the 110kW/199Nm certainly ample for safe overtaking and for dealing with the rolling country roads on test - even with three adults aboard.
Good car, the Citroen C4 Aircross. For style, and from the wheel, it comes across as a classier ASX.
The car-buyer is the winner here, with a choice of three distinctly-styled bodies over the one proven set of underpinnings.
This Aircross’ unique styling will likely prevent any badge-engineering jibes, but some will prefer the manual and diesel options of its Mitsubishi and Peugeot compatriates.
Its worth having a steer of all three to appreciate their differences and decide which best suits your tastes and driving needs.
We reckon the Aircross could be the best of the bunch.