Citroen C4 Aircross

25 Apr, 2012 12:00pm Joaquim Oliveira

New Qashqai rival from Citroen looks good and is surprisingly engaging to drive

Verdict

4
It might be a Mitsubishi ASX under the skin, but Citroen has done an excellent job of giving the C4 Aircross its own distinct look and character. There are signs of its ASX roots in the interior, but the quality of materials is noticeably higher. It’s impressive to drive, too, with a robust feel to all the main controls and a surprising sportiness in corners. It will be a crying shame if Citroen doesn’t bring the C4 Aircross to the UK. The compact crossover market is growing quickly at the moment, and a car this stylish and capable on the road is sure to be a hit with UK buyers.
The massive sales success of the Nissan Qashqai has sent rivals scrambling to build their own compact crossovers – and Citroen is the latest to enter the fray with the C4 Aircross.

Before you pick up the phone to your local dealer, though, there’s a twist – the company is still undecided about whether converting it to right-hand drive and bringing it to the UK makes financial sense. If it does go on sale in Britain, this 1.6 HDi model is the only version we’ll get.

This fifth addition to the C4 family – which already includes the C4, DS4, C4 Picasso and Grand Picasso – is based on the Mitsubishi ASX, in the same way that the larger C-Crosser is a Mitsubishi Outlander underneath.

But from the outside, the C4 Aircross hides its roots well. The front end features a slim double chevron grille which flows neatly into the headlights, with a pair of vertical LED strips underneath – a nod towards the DS3 and DS4. Even more distinctive, though, is the floating C-pillar, a cue taken from the DS5.

Inside it’s a different story, with most of the switchgear and dashboard architecture carried over directly from the ASX. Even the sat-nav system uses Mitsubishi software, while the button for deactivating the stop-start system reads ‘AS&Go’  – Mitsubishi terminology.

Whereas the ASX’s interior is let down by an abundance of scratchy plastics, the Aircross gets a soft-touch covering on the dashboard and doors. There’s plenty of space for up to five adults, although the panoramic glass roof fitted to our test car does rob a little rear headroom.

The boot is a useful 416 litres, and can expand to 1,193 litres with the rear seats folded – that’s six and 333 litres more than the Qashqai respectively. A handy ski hatch lets you place long objects along the length of the cabin, too.

The real surprise, though, is how good the Aircross is to drive. It manages to resist roll through corners, while its multi-link suspension deals with bumps in the road brilliantly. The switchable four-wheel-drive system is best left in two-wheel- drive mode for normal driving, but can deliver impressive grip when the conditions call for it.

The steering, meanwhile, is heavier than on most Citroens and the manual gearbox has a chunky action, so the Aircross feels robust from behind the wheel.

Although Mitsubishi’s 148bhp 1.8-litre diesel will be offered in other markets, the 113bhp PSA 1.6 HDi is the only engine being considered for the UK – and it’s a better bet. It delivers impressive shove from only 1,750rpm and stays smooth and quiet even when revved hard, rounding off an appealing all-round package.

Disqus - noscript

They should release this and put the stop/start system on it to as it would be 119 co2's then. It's the best looking of the crossovers also. The price is cheap and equipment levels are awesome. A bargain in my eyes. Makes the others boring in comparison.

It actually brings down the rest of the brand.

Oh how I wish they would standardise cargo space measurements! There is no way that this Citroen or its ASX sibling is 333 litres bigger than the Qashqai, seats down. Measurement for measurement, the Qashqai and the ASX are very very close, almost as if Mitsu based its car on the Qashqai. The difference in cargo space ould be minimal, alomst certainly under 50 litres. Until the different companies start to use the same standard measures, it may be more useful to use that other car site which gives floor length, width and height measurements in the cargo areas.

Would rather buy the Nissan Qashqai, it keeps the Geordie boys in employment up in Sunderland with lots of money to spend on Newcastle broon at the weekends.

What are you getting up to in the back seat areas for PeterM, is your girlfriend big?

THREEPOINTEDSTAR you should have gone to specsavers, you better get your boss in the Citroen sales to get your eyes tested mate.

Voyager is spot on.

Who bent the Citroen grill in the middle?

Heard to many stories of end of crankshafts at the pulley end made from junk materials shearing off costing thousands to repair, and Mitsubishi refusing to fix it.

Mitsubishi lost most of its customer base, l should give this a miss spend the hard earned £20,000 on a nice British made well engineered bomb proof Nissan Qashqai.

While I agree with your opinions on the styling (it is a tad heavy handed) I would prefer to see more manufacturers adopt Citroen's' bold approach and be more daring with new cars. It is what made them famous after-all...

However your comments about Mitsubishi are deeply unfair. They have merged with PSA on development a long time ago and any diesels they use are very much French in origin... much like the Renault based diesels found in the Qashqai (what a name btw) and their reliability is renowned!...

Key specs

* Citroen C4 Aircross 1.6 HDi
* Price: £20,000 (est)
* Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
* Power/torque: 113bhp/270Nm
* Transmission: Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
* 0-62mph: 11.6 seconds
* Top speed: 112mph
* Economy: 57.6mpg
* CO2: 129g/km
* Equipment: Switchable 4WD, sat-nav, air-con, LED running lights, stop-start, ski hatch
* On sale: Late 2012 (est)

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