Road test: Citroen C4 Aircross is Japanese and French fusion
CITROEN'S partnership with Mitsubishi has given the French manufacturer access to a "just-add-water SUV" with the skeleton and heart of the ASX crossover featuring as the fundamental components in the C4 Aircross.
The ASX is popular indeed with the same underpinnings also being used in the Peugeot 4008.
While these sorts of arrangements are nothing new, it has allowed Citroen a quick dip of the toe in a rewarding segment and the money saved in the development of an entirely new vehicle has resulted in interesting cost savings for the consumer.
The Aircross has come to the market at a value-for-money $31,990 for the 4x2 and $33,990 for its all-wheel drive counterpart, boasting a list of enviable inclusions.
The interior of the C4 Aircross gives the impression of space but sadly it is immediately apparent that it lacks the French flair one would associate with Citroen.
The front seats are fairly comfortable but lack much side support with the narrower shape of the Aircross showing it disadvantage in the loss of space in the back pew. Head and legroom is generous though and the reclining rear seats offer a 60/40 split with a flap for skis.
Cargo storage is 384 litres with the seats in position, a bit on the small side but big enough to be useful.
On the road
The C4 Aircross comes with only one engine choice - a 2.0 litre four-cylinder petrol with CVT auto - and it is confident but not thrilling performer. It is probably too small for a weighty SUV and while earnest it lacks true power.
There is some hesitation in quick changes of direction and it lumbers when attempting to get up to speed but once there the ride is smooth and comfortable enough to be enjoyable.
The Aircross sticks to the task at hand, the steering is accurate and surprisingly, there is little body roll although it is not very nimble over poor patches of road.
Citroen has paid much attention to sound proofing but the drone of the CVT engine, especially when pushed, is hard to ignore.
What do you get?
Inclusions are one of the main strengths of the C4 Aircross, adding extreme value at a very reasonable price.
Reverse sensors and integrated camera, cruise and climate control, fog lights, 18-inch alloys and partial leather trim are standard as is Bluetooth connectivity and steering mounted audio controls.
A five-star ANCAP rating comes courtesy of seven airbags, hill-start assist, stability and traction control and ABS brakes with EBD and brake assist.
Of course the Mitsubishi ASX ($31,240) and Peugeot 4008 ($31,490) shape as the main contenders but so does the Hyundai ix35 Elite ($32,590) and Kia Sportage SLi AWD ($31,990).
The C4 Aircross has practical value for those looking for the height and ease of a sports utility vehicle but have little intention of taking it out of the city.
It has a great range of inclusions, good visibility and is easy to manoeuvre with an excellent turning circle and good ground clearance. A bigger engine would be a good addition or a diesel option for both variety and performance.
Lugging around almost 1400kg does little for economy figures and we used close to 10 litres/100km during our test week.
Official figures stand at 7.9L/100km but you would need near perfect conditions to achieve those (which is pretty typical with the official average figures across the industry).
Citroen offers a three year/100,000km warranty.
When it comes to servicing parts availability can be an issue and pricing can be at the higher end of the scale depending on what needs replacement.
While the underpinnings of the Aircross is all Mitsubishi, Citroen has taken a firm hand with the exterior to ensure that at the very least the first impression is French.
Apart from the roof and doors all exterior panels have been changed along with the two-segment grille easily identifiable as Citroen.
The SUV market shows little sign of slowing down and the C4 Aircross will play a good hand for Citroen.
It gives buyers good Japanese engineering and a European feel at a more affordable price-tag and that is not a combination which can be easily ignored. While the 4x2 is fine for city and town driving you would be best to opt for the all-wheel drive at $2000 more if you have adventure on the mind.
What matters most
What we liked: Generous inclusions, exterior styling, visibility, drive-away pricing represents impressive value.
What we'd like to see: More powerful engine, infotainment screen, less cabin noise, sat nav as standard.
Warranty and servicing : Citroen offers a three year/100,000 kilometres warranty. Servicing is every 12 months or 15,000km.