Citroën C3 Aircross Compact SUV
One week into 2018 and early surprise developments have already begun to unfold. Without any prior planning, having woken up particularly blurry-eyed last Monday morning, Mrs Evans and I decided to become part of the Dry January abstemious collective.
Subconsciously on my part, this may also have been largely down to the shock I experienced on New Year’s Eve when I went online to download my regular 17-week training schedule, in preparation for the Virgin London Marathon 2018.
To my abject horror I realised that I was already one week behind. Day one, week one kicked in on Christmas Day. How cruel is that? The news immediately shed light on why we’d seen tens of runners, of all shapes and sizes, in various shades of fluorescent Lycra, pounding the pavements on the way to my mum’s for Christmas lunch.
It has to be classified as a fun car because that’s mostly what it has going for it. Not fun as in fun to drive, but fun to be around and to be in
As far as power is concerned, for a mere 1.2 litres and three cylinders, I found our top-of-the-range Flair more than capable, with plenty of pull once the revs got going
With marathon training, it’s all about getting enough miles in those legs so they are fearless and raring to go come April 22. Fail to do that and you’re going to struggle. I know this for a fact because that’s exactly what happened to me last year. My third marathon in, I took the training far less seriously than the first two, and boy did I pay the consequences on the day. It was horrible.
Never again, I promised myself. Either train properly or don’t bother, you absolute pancake. And yet there I was already a week behind schedule. Double pancake. Not the ideal way to start a new year.
The day of the race should be a euphoric celebration of all the hard work one has put in, as opposed to a needless, miserable, living hell for four-and-three-quarter hours (in my case).
No alcohol, then, for at least a month, maybe all the way to race day. Which would be a) amazing, b) a miracle.
Add to that lots of sleep, tons of water and ultra-sensible healthy food, and I hope I’ll soon get back to where I need to be. For a shuffler like me, marathons have to be fun, otherwise what’s the point?
Talking of fun, this week we have our first fun car of the year, the Citroën C3 Aircross Compact SUV Flair. As well as the fun Flair, there are also Touch and Feel models to choose from in this fun new mini-SUV range.
It has to be classified as a fun car because that’s mostly what it has going for it. Not fun as in fun to drive, but fun to be around and to be in. It looks fun, with its multi-coloured exterior, Lego-style roof rack and car park-proof bumper panels on each side.
Inside, the seats are huge, chunky and comfortable, if a little on the soft side – perhaps due to a general lack of quality necessitated by a rather tight budget. The driver’s arm rest, for example, showed signs of a permanent elbow dent after only a few days’ driving. And there’s yet more evidence of thrift when it comes to the interior finishes. They are by no means unattractive, but harder and more plasticky than one would ideally like.
The maker of a car like this, at a price like this, has to prioritise and predict what is important to its customers, and the more carefully one looks, the more obvious this becomes. Satnav, for example, comes as standard only on the top-spec Flair editions.
So what is on the C3 Aircross
So what is on the C3 Aircross tick list? Economy, for sure. Between 40mpg and 60mpg no less, depending on how gentle or gung-ho you are feeling. The driving position is excellent. And the various driving modes, which include big-boy-sounding Snow, Mud and Sand (with controlled Hill Descent thrown in), all play to the positive mental attitude of a healthy, outdoorsy, can do/will do existence. Good for the soul, good for the psyche. As was the full panoramic sunroof our car was also fitted with. That was an optional extra, though, so make sure you do your sums correctly.
The secret of the modern compact car is to be as small as possible on the outside and as roomy as possible on the inside. And there’s loads of room here, with an easily accessible and relatively big boot, plus very handy 60/40 folding rear seats with the added bonus of a flat-folding front passenger seat to take home any particularly long, late-January sale bargains. Like the tandem bicycle my brother and sister- in-law recently acquired.
The ride is also extremely comfortable, which translates to extremely family-friendly. Comfort is clearly a major fixture on the Citroën design office mood board. We love our Land Rover Defender 110 almost more than life itself, but rarely do we undertake a long journey in it without at least one of us feeling slightly Tom Dick. No such worries in this little funster, which is softly sprung from back to front. It’s also a very friendly compact car to drive. The steering is light around town and the clutch pedal and gearbox have that non-confrontational feel to them. Precise, but not so precise as to intimidate.
As far as power is concerned, for a mere 1.2 litres and three cylinders, I found our top-of-the-range Flair more than capable, with plenty of pull once the revs got going. The brakes are the only uncharacteristically harsh ingredient of an otherwise highly agreeable set-up.
Slightly annoying for lefties will be the tailgate grab handle, which is on the extreme right. While more than slightly annoying for everyone will be the temperature controls, the most fiddled-with controls in any car, which can only be accessed via the touch screen. When it comes to air-con, analogue rules, end of story.
Would the Evans family consider one of these as a full-time and trendy weekend fun bus? You know, I think we might. Already a fan of the funky-looking C3, we would probably go for one of the more colourful paint-and-trim combos, and with 90 to choose from we might even achieve something approaching garish, our favourite.
As a replacement for the legendary Picasso, yet another MPV victim of the unstoppable SUV market, we give a robust thumbs-up to an extremely well-priced, mini all-rounder. Entry level starts at a mere £14k, the Flair starts at £18k (with our model coming in at a touch over £21k). Excellent value for the kind of cute but competent car that makes you smile and want to get out there and do things with your life.
So how about this? Get out there, strike a good start-of-year deal on a brand-new C3 Aircross and then get back to those January sales to pick up a tent, sleeping bags, waterproofs, walking shoes, bike rack, mountain bikes, gun dog and whatever else it takes to make you feel and look the part.