Why Citroen has nothing to fear

I must confess I feared for Citroen when DS came into being.

Citroen C3 Aircross
Citroen C3 Aircross

The idea was to create an upmarket French brand which seemed to indicate that Citroen would be allowed to sink downmarket.

That was a shame for this marque as any motoring historian will tell you has a rich and illustrious past.

Citroen was a pioneer of motoring and its cars were some of the classiest around in the early days of automobiles. Even in the 1950s and 1960s, they were well-equipped and incredibly stylish cars far ahead of their times.

Citroen C3 Aircross

But fear not for Citroen. While DS is making a mark at the posh end of the industry, Citroen is still alive and kicking.

The C3 Aircross tested here is a lovely car for the money. It is stylish and has much more quality than you might expect, both in terms of luxury and safety.

This car is tall and the ride feels almost SUV in its stance. It means the car isn’t the sharpest on cornering but it does feel comfortable, which is down to Citroen’s historical obsession with good suspension.

I know it’s only a minor thing, but I do admire the wheels on this car. They are 17in and the design is called Origami. I parked next to a similar C3 Aircross at a supermarket and it had different – but equally impressive – wheels. They certainly make the car stand out.

Another minor thing which Citroen got right was the seat controls. It is easy to fold the rear seats flat, much better than some of its rivals which have difficult to reach levers. It is a spacious car. The boot is shallow but it holds 410 litres rising to 1,289 litres with the seats down. And there is a 12 volt connection and a light in the boot.

There are some good safety touches. For example, if you brake sharply the hazard lights come on – a fabulous idea. It stands to reason the one time you need the hazards to be on and you’ll be busy reacting to something ahead.

It also has a lane departure warning system and a cruise control with a limiter which should prevent you inadvertently drifting into speeding territory.

The test version added the Origami wheels (£100 extra, which seems reasonable to me) and a Park Assist Pack which includes blind spot monitoring a self parking system (£200).

The cabin is special. You get Citroën Connect Nav with 3D navigation, DAB Radio with six speakers, a 9in touchscreen, Bluetooth hands free and media streaming with USB port and Mirrorscreen compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

C3 Aircross has proved popular. At the begining of this year Citroen said 330,000 such vehicles had been produced since its launch at the end of 2017, C3 Aircross SUV has proved very popular in the B-SUV segment.

And from launch, customers have been impressed by what Citroen call its “ultra-customisable” - or versatile - design, and by its spaciousness and unrivalled practicality.

Showcasing the importance of personalisation, the majority of current C3 Aircross SUV customers have opted for high-end versions, with the ‘Shine Plus’ trim level now accounting for 75 per cent of UK sales. Offering real versatility in use with its compact exterior dimensions and generous cabin space, C3 Aircross SUV is an ideal vehicle for motorists with active lifestyles – particularly those looking for more comfort and practicality from their vehicle day to day.

As ever with a Citroen, comfort is key. In addition to class-leading ride comfort, New C3 Aircross SUV offers even greater comfort when travelling with its new Advanced Comfort seats – an innovation first seen on C4 Cactus and C5 Aircross SUV.

Initial comfort is provided by an insert of an extra 15mm of foam, boosting comfort and support. The difference is noticeable when you first sit down in the car.

It also offers class-leading versatility and spaciousness. With its compact body length of 4.16m, New C3 Aircross features unrivalled cabin space in the segment.

Citroen C3 Aircross Shine Plus BlueHDi 110 S&S 6-Speed Manual

Price: £22,670.

Engine: 1,499cc high pressure turbo-charged direct injection diesel

Power: 350bhp

Performance: Top speed 114mph and 10.8 seconds

Economy: 56.2mpg combined

Emissions: 123g/km

Warranty: Three years, 60,000 miles