After a silent exit Citroën is back in South Africa; WOW sampled the new C3, C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross Citroën at relaunch
You’re forgiven for being surprised that Citroën left the country. When they exited South Africa it was on the quieter end of fanfare; Citroën is back and with much more fanfare for their re-arrival. Heralding their re-emergence Citroën has brought three new models to market. The opening offer in the C3, the C3-platform based C3 Aircross and the flagship model Citroën C5 Aircross.
Citroën is keeping models and spec lines simple, they’ve done their research, narrowed down what the market will need and brought only those models to South Africa. Each model will have only two derivatives; the entry Feel or higher spec Shine. The difference between the spec lines is small ad-ons, safety features don’t change between models, all have multiple airbags, ABS and all the braking systems that accompany it to make their cars as safe as possible. All the models have the Citroën Advanced Comfort Program, what we can summarize as Citroën’s focus on customer well being, space and comfortable seats (and they are so comfortable).
…if Goldilocks’ was on the launch with us she’d definitely have claimed the C5 Aircross for it’s “just right” seats…
The opening offer to the market, a highly stylized city car is the C3. Don’t let the words opening offer fool you, this is a mid-level car taking on the small hatches (Polo, Fiesta), featuring SUV-inspired styling that is appealing if you want a break from the norm. Splashed with bright colour accents in the detailing, bi-tone roof and Airbump (Shine model) patch a la C4 Cactus, it’s a head turner without being gaudy. The interior is comfortable, even the base Feel spec has plenty to offer, ample interior/luggage space and safety features. The 1.2 PureTech naturally aspirated engine is not for everyone, only 60 kW means that it’s mechanically duking it out with the Vivo and Picanto on the road. The thin air in Gauteng left the five-speed manual working hard on the highway, not the hard work that feels rewarding, though it is a competitor in the correct environment. If your domain is city cruising, live close to work or suffering the brutal effects of bumper-to-bumper traffic this little engine is perfect for that context. Safe, frugal, no turbo-lag and comfortable inside, what more do you need. The Shine model gets an uprated 1.2 PureTech turbocharged 81 kW engine with six-speed automatic gearbox. Much like the C3 styling this little three-cylinder engine packs a punch. The 7-inch touchscreen infotainment unit carries a fair bit of gadgetry, combined with the safety features as standard leveraging the asking price to acceptable.
Lend me your eyes and let me tell you the different between the C3 and C3 Aircross. The C3 Aircross is based on the C3 platform, with 20mm of added ground clearance leading to a raised ride-height and seat position, and front and rear scuff plates give it SUV styling cues. Throw in the larger wheels, extended side-mirrors, colour roof rails, and the venetian blinds on the C-pillar and this is not your average crossover. The chrome styling strip serving as a Citroën genealogy marker bisecting the Citroën badging is present, as are LED daytime running lights.
The rear gets 3D effect rearlights, curated by using two-sets of LED lights set apart to create this illusion. The C3 Aircross only has the uprated turbocharged engine in the line-up, so power delivery is not an issue. The Shine model gets tinted windows, fog lights, cornering lights, auto wipers, keyless entry and start, mirror-screen functionality to the touchscreen infotainment unit and satellite navigation. Shine models have the added modularity of the rear seats splitting 60:40, each section can be adjusted forwards or backwards by 150 mm. That’s a practical crossover.
The C5 Aircross is the flagship model for Citroën, moving into the C-SUV segment of the market, which is growing rapidly with every brand wanting a section of this pie. The C5 Aircross brings premium technology, materials and ride quality to the C-SUV game. In line with the Citroën Advanced Comfort programme, the C5 Aircross has a supple ride quality from the Progressive Hydraulic Cushions suspension system (which has 20 patents) that eliminates bounce from the ride. The seats too deserve a special mention, they’re comfortable like your favourite armchair, except in a car, if Goldilocks’ was on the launch with us she’d definitely have claimed the C5 Aircross for it’s “just right” seats. From a styling perspective Citroën styling cues are evident in the front grille with chrome detailing bisected by the Citroën badging, like the smaller siblings. The C5 Aircross takes their ‘Inspired by you’ tagline to heart; everything in the cabin is designed around the consumer.
The interior has minimal noise intrusion owing to advanced soundproofing, double-glazed and laminated front windows and soundproofing the in engine compartment. Like the C3 Aircross the C5 Aircross has individual sliding, folding and reclining rear-seats, except it’s taking this modularity feature one step further that each of the three-rear seats are independently adjustable. These modular seats allow for a best in-class luggage space that starts at 520-litres, expands to 720-litres – all the seats flat (yes, they are truly flat) you get 1 630-litres. The instrument panel is a 12.3-inch digital screen, the infotainment unit being an 8-inch touchscreen. The Shine models get wireless smartphone charging and ConnectedCAM Citroen.
The tried and tested 1.6 THP four-cylinder petrol engine is paired to the C5 Aircross, delivering 121 kW and 240 Nm it’s more than enough to transport a family and the associated accouterment. Ground clearance is a healthy 230 mm; standard across all models are 18-inch wheels. Power is put down through the front-wheels and mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox, no manuals here, Citroën feels that this auto box is best suited to our busy lives.
In keeping with data garnered from AA’s ‘Going Further’ research, Citroen’s standard warranty and service and warranty plans now run to five years. All models get the Citroën Serenity package, a 5-year/100 000 km warranty and service plan.