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Best value small SUVs: Citroen C3 Aircross vs Nissan Juke

A small budget can still bag you a great small SUV

New SUVs eat up a greater share of the UK car market every year; it seems that buyers can’t get enough of their raised driving positions and chunkier looks. But just because you’re on a tight budget, it doesn’t mean that you have to miss out, because both the Citroen C3 Aircross and the Nissan Juke easily dip below £200 per month.

 Citroen C3 AircrossNissan Juke
Contract type:Personal Contract Hire (PCH)Personal Contract Hire (PCH)
Monthly cost:£182£188
Length of contract:24 months48 months
Initial payment:£1,642£1,692
Mileage allowance:5,000/year5,000/year

Despite these prices, the C3 Aircross doesn’t scrimp on the spec, because £182 a month gets you into the top- spec Shine Plus trim; keyless entry and go, built-in navigation, artificial leather upholstery, cruise control and lane-departure warning are all standard. 

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One of the C3 Aircross’s greatest strengths is a spacious cabin. Those tall proportions on the outside result in a light, airy interior with loads of headroom for all. Rear legroom is great, too, and a sliding bench lets some of that space give way to the boot, raising the size from an already generous 410 litres to a vast 520 litres. 

On the road, the C3 Aircross is set up for comfort. The steering is light and its suspension soft, which means that at town speeds it’s a very relaxing way to get around. On more open tarmac, that softness remains, so there is some body roll through the corners.

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The 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine makes 108bhp and 205Nm of torque, so performance is sprightly. Despite this, it achieves a claimed 46.3mpg, so you can still keep the fuel costs in check. It’s connected to a six-speed manual gearbox; the auto is combined with a more powerful petrol engine, but costs in excess of an additional £100 per month to lease

If the C3 Aircross appeals to those who prize space and practicality, then the Juke is going for the sportier end of the market. It’s certainly working for Nissan as its crossover is a firm favourite in the 2023 new-car sales charts. The more rakish roofline and bold front treatment immediately set the Nissan apart from most rivals in this class, although it does mean that its practicality is a little compromised.

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While the 422-litre boot is right on the money with the Citroen, its opening is smaller and the load lip is high. 

The biggest compromise comes in the back, though, where the seats feel a little claustrophobic when compared with its rival’s. The cabin feels snug up front, too, but in a good way; the driving position has plenty of adjustment and it feels more like sitting in a coupe than an SUV.

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On the road, the initial feeling is that the Juke is set up for a sporty feel to back up its looks. The ride is much firmer than the Citroen’s – some would say too firm – but that does translate into minimal body roll through the corners. The steering is well weighted, but other controls – particularly the spongy clutch pedal – take the shine off the driving experience. 

While the C3 Aircross deal is for one of the top-spec models, the Juke’s lease figures get you the Acenta – one step up from the base model. As standard, you get 17-inch alloys, an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a reversing camera. 

All of this comes to £188 per month, on a four-year lease. Unlike the Citroen, it isn’t much of a stretch to upgrade to an automatic gearbox, though; the cheapest deal we found for the same Acenta trim comes to £215 per month.

Verdict

First place: Citroen C3 Aircross

We’ve always rated the Citroen C3 Aircross highly for traditional car buyers; it’s one of our favourite compact SUVs because it is such strong value for money. Based on our best figures, the same competitiveness applies to lease users, too. But there’s lots to like beyond the competitive prices, because the Citroen is very practical, well equipped, comfortable to drive and offers decent performance. 

Second place: Nissan Juke

With such huge popularity in the sales charts at the moment, it shouldn’t be difficult to get your hands on a Juke almost immediately – many lease companies have cars in stock and ready to go. If you like the styling and can put up with a fidgety ride, then the Juke still has plenty of appeal, but it has to settle for second best to the cheaper and more spacious Citroen.

Figures

 

Citroen C3 Aircross PureTech 110 Shine Plus

Nissan Juke 1.0 DiG-T 114 Acenta

Monthly lease/total lease cost

£182/£6,019

£188/£10,716

Powertrain

3cyl in-line/1,199cc, turbo

3cyl in-line/999cc, turbo

Peak power/torque

108bhp/205Nm

112bhp/200Nm

Transmission

6-speed manual/fwd

6-speed manual/fwd

Fuel tank capacity

45 litres

36 litres

Length/wheelbase

4,155/2,604mm

4,210/2,636mm

Height/width

1,637/1,765mm

1,577/1,800mm

Boot capacity (seats up/down)

410/1,289 litres

422/1,305 litres

Kerbweight/towing weight

1,179/840kg

1,198/1,250kg

Turning circle

10.8 metres

10.6 metres

Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.

13th/N/A

15th/7th

NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars

85/82/64/60/5 (2017)

94/85/81/73/5 (2019)

0-62mph/top speed

10.1 secs/114mph

10.7 secs/112mph

WLTP mpg/CO2

51.5mpg/136g/km

48.7mpg/133g/km

   

Parking sensors/camera/LED lights

F&R/yes/yes

No/yes/yes

Cruise control/lane keep/blindspot

Yes/yes/no

Yes/no/no

Climate ctrl/leather/heated seats

Yes/artificial/no

Air-con/no/no

Sat-nav/digital dash

Yes/no

No/no

Wireless/CarPlay/Android Auto

£155/yes/yes

No/yes/yes

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