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Car reviews - Citroen - C4 Aircross - range

Our Opinion

We like
Citroen styling, steering feel, price point, badge cache, voice-activated Bluetooth, quieter than ASX, decent standard features list
Room for improvement
Lackluster performance, some cheap cabin materials, cushy seats, flat back bench, indirect steering

Citroen logo28 Mar 2013

By DANIEL GARDNER and TIM NICHOLSON

CITROEN purists might have a hard time accepting the French brand’s latest addition to its local model line-up.

You see, the C4 Aircross is not technically a Citroen. The spunky compact SUV is actually a Mitsubishi ASX in French designer clothing. And it is even made in Japan by Mitsubishi. Sacre bleu!

To complicate things further, Citroen’s PSA sister company Peugeot also sells an ASX-based crossover in the form of the 4008 that was released in Australia a month prior to its French family member.

So there are three variations of the same car on sale in Australia right now.

Confused? Don’t be.

Peugeot and Citroen’s local distributor Sime Darby will push to differentiate the two French-branded models and market to different crowds.

The French car-maker is giving the C4 Aircross some airtime by holding an official media launch eight months after it was released under previous distributor Ateco.

Citroen has done well to give the C4 Aircross its own flavor, designing what we think is the best looking of the compact SUV triplets.

Design elements have been taken from Citroen’s DS range with the extended tail-lights, the DS3-esque C-pillar and the vertical daytime running lights in the bumper while the chunky bonnet and huge double-chevron badge dominate the front of the car.

From side-on the ASX roots are evident with the crease line running across front and rear doors coming straight from the Mitsubishi.

Big 18-inch wheels give the little crossover a chunkier look.

Our test drive through the Blue Mountains allowed us to sample both the two- and four-wheel drive variants of the C4 Aircross.

Stepping into the cabin of the front-drive version, we immediately noticed how plasticky the interior was.

Possibly not surprising for a car with a $31,990 drive-away price, but the hard plastics are not appealing and overwhelmed the interior.

The roof lining in our test car wasn’t sealed in at the windscreen which added to the cheap feel of the cabin and didn’t help our opinion of the overall quality of the C4 Aircross.

While the designers at Citroen did a bang up job on the exterior of the car, they mustn’t have had much to do with the cabin, as it has an almost identical centre console to the ASX.

It’s not all bad inside however. The centre stack is logically laid out and features an attractive shined plastic surround and chrome accents throughout the cabin hint at a more premium offering.

Despite the small rear window, outward visibility was pretty decent.

The Rockford Fosgate sound system was top notch and we loved the voice activated Bluetooth set-up that was quick and super easy to use.

Citroen has not included a touch-screen in the C4 Aircross but the screen that pops up in the automatically dimming mirror for the rear parking camera compensated.

The standard cloth seats were well-cushioned and soft, but offered average support. Coughing up for the optional cow’s hide takes away some of that cushy feeling and makes the cabin feel more luxurious.

Rear occupants will find acceptable legroom for a vehicle of this size but the rear bench was flat and offered little support.

Lift the tailgate and the boot appears quite shallow because of the full-size spare tyre hiding under the cover, but Citroen says capacity is 384-litres with the seats up and 1193-litres with seats folded down.

By comparison, the Nissan Dualis has 410-litres of boot space with seats up.

Despite the all-wheel drive option, most buyers in the compact SUV segment would rarely, if ever take their vehicle off-road and the stylish Citroen looked at home on the streets of Sydney.

Citroen has improved the sound proofing in the Aircross over its ASX donor car, and the general consensus was that they had succeeded in reducing the road noise of the Mitsubishi.

Zero to 100 km/h in the 2.0-litre four-cylinder Aircross is recorded at 10.2 seconds for the two-wheel drive and 10.9 seconds in four-wheel drive guise, beating out the Dualis at 10.5 seconds.

The Mitsubishi-sourced 110kW engine sounds like it is working hard when putting the foot down to overtake and it is even more evident when tackling a hill.

We had no problems with the CVT although it added to the whine when accelerating.

While the steering felt nicely weighted, with some welcome firmness, it lacked directness and communication.

The driving route took us through rough (ish) terrain and although we were driving the two-wheel drive as opposed to the four-wheel drive, the Citroen didn’t come off too badly.

Stability control kept the crossover in check when the road got a little slippery, but taking on some of the bigger holes and ridges proved why the C4 Aircross, and most of its counterparts, rarely leave a sealed surface.

The steering wheel rattled when driving over larger bumps but the ride and suspension felt much more assured once we were back on the black top.

And that’s probably where the C4 Aircross belongs. On sealed roads in cities, cruising freeways, darting through traffic to pick up a café au lait.

For the same money or less, there is some solid competition to consider, including the impressive Nissan Dualis, funky Subaru XV or popular Hyundai ix35., But regardless of its rivals, the C4 Aircross will still appeal to buyers looking for something different and stylish with badge cache. Just don’t tell them there is a Mitsubishi hiding under that gorgeous facade.

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