Citroen C-Crosser 2007 review - Citroen's first SUV

Citroen's first SUV comes with off-road looks, seven-seat versatility and car-like handling to make it an enticing proposition

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

It's Citroen's first SUV, but the C-Crosser could teach some other firms a thing or two about building a 4x4. The combination of off-road looks, seven-seatversatility and car-like handling will make it an enticing proposition. Add in the punchy and refined diesel engine, and only a lack of ability in the rough stuff goes against the newcomer.

There are 'rough' times ahead for Citroen. For the first time, the French manufacturer is launching an SUV, having watched rivals achieve great 4x4 success in recent years.

On sale in July, the C-Crosser will be pitched headlong into the ultra-competitive compact soft-roader sec-tor - but will it get a grip on sales success or slip out of contention?

Described as a 'crossover' rather than a serious mud-plugger, the C-Crosser is a rival for the Honda CR-V and Hyundai's Santa Fe. The newcomer shares its platform - and much of its mechanicals - with the Mitsubishi Outlander and forthcoming 4007 from Peugeot.

In the metal, the similarities with its sister cars are clear to see. The chunky wheelarches, slab sides and angular C-pillar are all virtually identical to the Outlander. Only the nose has received a through reworking in an effort to set the C-Crosser apart.

The Citroen features the trademark large double chevron grille and big wraparound headlights. An aluminium finish has been applied to the side sills and roof rails to complete the rugged, all-weather look.

Overall, it's arguably the best-looking of the 4x4 trio. Climb into the cabin, and it's clear that less time has been spent on trying to disguise the shared underpinnings. Other than a Citroen badge on the wheel, it's pretty much a carbon copy of the Mitsubishi. The dashboard layout is dull but functional, although the driver gets a commanding view of the road.

Cabin equipment is generous, too. Top-of-the-range models come with a seven-inch colour satellite navigation screen and a 30Gb hard drive.

Practicality is another strong point. Unlike many of its class rivals, the C-Crosser features a seven-seat layout. However, space in the third row is tight, and it's only really suitable for children. With five occupants on board, the extra seats can be folded into the floor to leave a generous 510-litre load area, which can be accessed through a split tailgate. The slight problem here is the somewhat fiddly folding mechanism.

One thing that sets the Citroen apart from the Mitsubishi is its engine. The smooth new 2.2-litre diesel unit is expected to be a firm favourite with compact SUV buyers, and it doesn't take you long behind the wheel to see why.

With 156bhp, the powerplant pro- vides ample acceleration through a six-speed manual gearbox connected to a sophisticated electronically controlled drivetrain. You can easily shift from front to four-wheel drive by using a dial on the centre console. However, if conditions get really slippery, then a Lock function provides even greater traction. Citroen also claims that the C-Crosser has exactly the same suspension settings as both the Peugeot and Mitsubishi.

With car-like responses, the steering is accurate, grip is high and the ride surprisingly forgiving. Only when you take corners at higher speeds does body roll become more pronounced. But otherwise, the C-Crosser proves itself to be an extremely competent performer on the road.

In the UK, only two trim levels will be offered - VTR+ and Exclusive. Both come generously equipped and will no doubt be subject to traditional Citroen dealer offers soon after hitting showrooms. List prices range from £22,790 to £25,490, with the strong 2.2-litre diesel the sole engine option.

With seven-seat practicality, a torquey powerplant and distinctive looks, it seems that the firm could be on to a winner with the C-Crosser.

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