FRENCH car-maker Citroen’s first SUV is finally on sale in Australia, two months after the similar Mitsubishi ASX-based Peugeot 4008.
Available in petrol-only Exclusive specification for now, the C4 AirCross will kick off from $31,990 (plus on roads) for the front-wheel-drive model, or $33,990 for the all-wheel drive.
That makes the well-equipped Citroen $500 more expensive than the equivalent Peugeots, although there are minor specification differences between the two.
Furthermore, Citroen has elected not to release a manual version of the C4 AirCross to compete with Pug’s entry-level $28,990 4008 FWD.
Mitsubishi’s own ASX petrol models, on which the French cars are based, are priced from $28,490.
Standard C4 AirCross features include dual front, side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags, ABS brakes with EBD, a hill-hold function, cruise control, climate-control air-conditioning, a trip computer, front fog lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a Bluetooth hands-free phone application.
However, unlike the others, a reversing camera remains on the Citroen’s options list, not standard.
Strangely, unlike the ASX, neither the C4 AirCross nor 4008 will offer a diesel engine option in Australia in the foreseeable future.
Citroen Australia public relations manager Edward Rowe said the lack of a diesel automatic is to blame.
Although the PSA Peugeot Citroen HDi diesel engine offered by both French brands in other countries can be configured with an electronic sequential transmission in other types of vehicles with front-drive transverse applications, it cannot be paired with all-wheel drive.
“Diesel is only available to us with a manual gearbox,” Mr Rowe said.
“And manual diesels make up only about one per cent of this sector, so we’re constrained to the (petrol/auto) drivetrain combination for the C4 AirCross.
“Additionally, manual diesels are usually restricted to the lower end of the SUV market in terms of price and that’s an even smaller percentage of the Australian market, so it makes no sense for us.
“Though the diesel (in the Mitsubishi version) is a PSA diesel, it doesn’t have a conventional auto or EGS that can be attached to a 4WD system.”
Consequently, both C4 AirCross Exclusive variants are solely motivated by a 2.0-litre twin-cam four-cylinder petrol engine.
Armed with variable valve timing, it delivers 110kW of power at 6000rpm and 197Nm of torque at 4200rpm, using 95 RON premium unleaded petrol – though it is claimed to return similar outputs on regular 91 RON fuel.
The combined fuel consumption figure is listed as 7.9 litres per 100km and emissions as 185 grams per kilometre (AWD: 8.1L/100km and 192g/km), while the 0-100km/h sprint time is 10.2 seconds (AWD: 10.9s) on the way to a 190km/h top speed (AWD: 188km/h).
Driving the front wheels is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) featuring a six-step electronic mode acting like conventional gear ratios for drivers to select manually using a pair of steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifts.
In the AWD model, the driver can select between three drive modes – FWD, 4WD for extra traction and a 4WD Lock for when the terrain becomes a more demanding, though the unibody C4 AirCross is by no means an off-roader.
For the record, ground clearance is rated at 200mm, while approach, departure, and ramp breakover angels are 19, 31 and 19 degrees respectively.
At the global launch of the 4008, Peugeot revealed that virtually no sheetmetal is shared with the ASX, and the same applies to the C4 AirCross.
Every panel forward of the windscreen and aft of the rear doors is different, including the unique C-pillar design.
Inside, the French cars receive what is referred to as “more premium” materials for the dashboard and door inserts. Changes have also been made to the instruments, steering wheel and audio system, to convey more ‘European-ness’.
The Citroen version receives a unique nose and trail treatment in line with the marque’s current corporate look.
Though PSA only signed the model-sharing agreement with Mitsubishi in 2010, the French apparently influenced the ASX’s early development during 2008, as the two companies were “in talks” at the time. Rear door length was said to have been altered to accommodate PSA’s requirements.
Tipping the scales at 1395kg (plus 65kg for the AWD model), the AirCross measures 4341mm long, 1799mm wide and 1625mm high, while cargo capacity is 416 litres and the turning circle is 10.6 metres.
It shares Mitsubishi’s GS platform that also underpins the Lancer and Outlander, as well as a range of Chrysler-based vehicles such as the Dodge Journey.
This provides a MacPherson strut front end and a multi-link rear suspension system, as well as electronically controlled rack-and-pinion steering that has been retuned to suit the French cars.
The C4 AirCross will be a niche player in Australia, though Citroen has not divulged sales expectations as it assesses initial consumer demand.
“We won’t know how many we will bring into Australia for a few weeks yet,” said Mr Rowe.