The start point for the best source of fleet information
16in steel wheels, Bluetooth, lane departure warning, cruise control, air-con, DAB radio
The C3 Picasso was far from a sales flop for Citroen; in fact, over 500,000 were sold in Europe when it was launched in 2009.
However, when the time came to replace the Picasso MPV, Citroen bosses were confronted with a not-so-difficult decision; stick to the old trusted formula or transform the car into a more modern SUV. Cue the C3 Aircross.
Meanwhile, the C4 Cactus is set to be repositioned in the line-up to make way for this new car and will be replaced with a new 'hatchback-inspired' model set to be revealed next month.
Practical and spacious
Not only is the C3 Aircross almost guaranteed to be more popular than the Picasso it replaces (SUVs are still selling like hotcakes after all), on first impressions it certainly looks more exciting too. Its chunky design, 17.5cm ground clearance, black wheel arches and skid plates give it a rugged yet characterful look, while the new trademark 3D light signature and wide range of personalisation options help the car feel more youthful and unique.
But the C3 Aircross doesn't just score well in the looks department; one of the car's standout features is its roomy cabin, one of the best in the segment. Measuring 4.15m in length and 1.76m wide, the C3 Aircross boasts a wheelbase of 2.6m, meaning rear legroom is very good, while headroom is also good for adults - unless the optional panoramic sunroof is fitted, which will impede anyone over 5ft 7in.
Boot volume also impresses at 410 litres, which can be expanded to 520 litres thanks to an optional sliding rear bench that can be moved forwards by up to 15cm as well as tilted five different ways. For anyone that loves surfing, the front seat can also be folded down on higher-trimmed cars to allow items up to 2.4m to be transported. Handy stuff then - the only real niggle is that there is no height adjustment for the front passenger seat, which means you sit very high in the car.
The C3 Aircross is available in the familiar three-trim line-up that starts with Touch, then Feel and finishes with Flair.
Standard equipment across the range is average with key features such as parking sensors, automatic wipers and automatic air-con all missing. Options are cheap, however, and here we're testing a top-of-the-range Flair model, which comes with plenty of mod-cons for a very reasonable price, including Apple CarPlay, 17in alloy wheels, LED lights, automatic lights and wipers, keyless entry and start and sat-nav.
The cabin is very similar to the C4 Cactus and C3 hatchback, and offers an abundance of flair and practical storage features. There are a few cheap plastics lurking within but no worse than rivals from Nissan or Vauxhall, and while the Citroen may fall down slightly next its Peugeot or Volkswagen competitors, when you consider it's the cheapest of them all, it's a very small compromise to make.
Although loaded with lots of technology, the infotainment system is also starting to look and feel its age, and it's not as intuitive or sophisticated as some either. The head-up display uses a Perspex-style screen to transmit information, which again looks a little on the cheap side.
Variety of engines
You can choose the C3 Aircross with either a 1.6-litre diesel engine or a 1.2-litre petrol under the bonnet in a variety of outputs. Petrol is expected to take the lion's share of sales here in the UK, and it's this 110hp version of the 1.2 that is likely to become the most popular option.
On the road the C3 Aircross handles neatly, the engine provides enough oomph to tackle even tricky inclines with confidence, and the steering, although lacking feel, is very nicely weighted too.
Here the engine is mated to an EAT6 automatic, which, while not our preferred choice, actually proved to be well-matched to the engine and offered timely gear changes - although in our opinion it is still not worth the £1,100 premium and 11g/km CO2 penalty.
There's some bodyroll, but not as much as you may expect, and the car's compact dimensions mean it's easy to drive around the city too. In Corsica, the roads are particularly rough, so it's hard to comment on the C3 Aircross's ride quality at this stage; we will reserve judgement until it arrives on UK shores but we're expecting the SUV to score well in the comfort stakes.
Available in the UK as an option will be Grip Control, the firm's traction system for soft off-roading, along with hill decent control for £400. Although most of us will never really have a need for this system, the car proved very competent on rough surfaces and tackled inclines and steep descents with poise and control, offering lots of grip on a variety of terrains.
The whole-life costs are out already for the new C3 Aircross and thanks to its low P11D value, the car does very well against its rivals. Residuals are also competitive, while opting for the manual gearbox will help reduce running costs further as well as improve residuals slightly.
The C3 Aircross manages to be everything the Picasso was and more, remaining a practical and comfortable family car, but offering more character and more style. Plus, unlike the car it replaces, it's not easy to forget, something that will prove essential with the likes of the Seat Arona, Kia Stonic, Volkswagen T-Roc and Hyundai Kona all coming to the UK by the end of the year.
Citroen C3 Aircross 1.2 PureTech 110 EAT6 Flair
P11D Price: £18,985
On sale: August 2017
Residual value: 33.1%
Service, maintenance and repair: £2,117
Cost per mile: 48.6p
Fuel consumption: 50.4mpg
CO2 (BIK Band): 126g/km (24%)
BIK 20/40% a month: £76/£152
Boot space: 410 litres
Engine size/power: 1198cc/110hp
Cheap to buy
Lots of space inside
Not as refined as rivals
Interior quality and infotainment system a little off the mark