The new Citroen C4 Aircross is based on the Mitsubishi ASX and shares many of its mechanical components and underbody parts with that successful Japanese car.
A solid restyle gives the Aircross a nice dose of French chic and it’s a real looker. All the external panels, with the exception of its doors and roof have been designed by Citroen.
Citroen’s designers have penned a two-segment grille with the company’s ‘interlocking gears’ chevron in its centre. Daytime running lights sit vertically at the outer edges of the grille. To be quite honest we are getting somewhat tired of the currently fashionable, and often aggressive looking, large grilles and it’s good to see Citroen going in its own direction.
Interior space is good at the front and acceptable for adults in the back seats. The front seats are well-shaped and generally comfortable, but don’t offer a lot of side support. Which probably makes sense as few are likely to drive hard and fast in a vehicle like the Aircross. Handling is safe enough but the steering is on the dead side in the straight ahead position and doesn’t provide as much feedback as we like.
Boot volume ranges from 442 litres with the rear seatbacks upright (though this reduces to a safer 384 litres if all the cargo is kept below the parcel shelf) to 1193 litres with the seatbacks folded.
Engine and transmission
At this stage the Citroen C4 Aircross only comes with a 2.0-litre petrol engine that drives thorough an efficient CVT automatic transmission. The engine produces a maximum of 110 kilowatts of power and a strong 199 Newton metres of torque.
The CVT auto has six preset forward ratios to give the driver a degree of manual control. Engine performance is nothing to get excited about, but the auto does a good job of keeping it in the middle of the torque band and there weren’t many occasions when we felt the need to manually shift the gears.
Mitsubishi has recently introduced a turbo-diesel engine on its ASX and Citroen is considering it for importation to Australia. In these early days on the Australian market there’s just one specification level for the new Citroen SUV, tagged as the C4 Aircross Exclusive. Standard are 18-inch alloy wheels, a leather trimmed steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio steaming, steering wheel mounted audio controls as well as voice activation.
Citroen Aircross Exclusive is priced at $31,990 for the 2WD and $33,990 for the 4WD. Both are driveway prices. Citroen’s prices are only marginally above those of the Mitsubishi ASX on which it is based and this gives potential buyers a chance to shop around. Believe it or not, there’s another French entrant in the mix - the Peugeot 4008 shares the same underpinnings.
Our test vehicle was the Citroen C4 Aircross with front-wheel-drive, likely to be the bigger seller as almost all buyers in this class want a people mover rather than a vehicle to be used on unsealed roads.
However, may we suggest that the all-wheel-drive model opens up new horizons for families who like to explore the great Aussie bush? We did a fair bit of driving on dirt roads during the launch of the Aircross and found it competent and comfortable. There’s a 4WD Lock setting for more demanding terrain, but we can’t see many people tackling anything more than mild off the bitumen running.
Fuel consumption on sealed roads was typically in the seven to eight litres per hundred kilometres range in highway driving, increasing to a reasonably good nine to eleven litres around town.
Safety equipment levels on this new French SUV are good with seven airbags, ABS brakes with emergency brakeforce distribution and brake assist, ESP, hill-start assist, reversing camera with rear mirror display, rear park assist and auto hazard light activation under rapid deceleration.