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Saturday, 18 September 2021
DRIVING the new Citroën C3 Aircross these past few days — particularly in the snowy conditions — has given me a good opportunity to experience equipment that is fast becoming essential in any modern car.
Not every new car has an abundance of these technological aids (which the C3 Aircross does) and those car makers that do not include such essentials I think are running a serious risk of falling behind.
While I have some reservations about the pace of the race to provide motorists with the “new” at every turn, most of this hot techie stuff improves safety and at the same time makes for more involved driving.
The visual and indeed non-visible aids to the driver — that is, the mechanical devices under the skin — in the Citroen C3 Aircross Compact SUV (sport utility vehicle) are a good example of what we should expect to see in a modern compact car.
Once upon a time your average dashboard comprised simple things such as a speedometer, a fuel gauge, and an analogue clock set in a walnut fascia (if you were lucky).
Today dashboards ripple with hi-tech equipment from climate control and telephone pairing to satnav — devices which are now more than likely neatly gathered together within the confines of a touchscreen.
The C3 Aircross is termed a compact SUV because that’s exactly what it is: if you take larger more familiar SUVs as a yardstick, the C3 Aircross and its ilk are mini-me versions.
This has to also be a good thing, because it means that you get all the advantages of the SUV without taking up more than your fair share of road space.
So first up on my increasingly essential equipment list — as displayed in the Citroën C3 Aircross — is something called a colour head-up display. Among other functions, this gives you speed limit recognition and speed warning plus collision alerts and navigation information.
This pops up on a small screen above the dashboard in the driver’s line of sight that emerges when you switch on the ignition.
The idea is that thanks to the head-up display, the driver can access information that is essential to modern-day driving without taking their eyes off the road.
Actually, on the C3 Aircross there are a total of 12 driving aids including the colour head-up display.
The others are: keyless entry and start, top rear vision reversing camera, park assist, active safety brake, lane departure warning system, blind spot monitoring system, speed limit recognition system and recommendation, intelligent beam headlights, driver assistance alert, coffee break alert and grip control with hill assist.
Grip control I found very useful over the weekend with the first winter snowfall.
The system works with the vehicle’s ESP (electronic stability programme) to maintain the best possible traction from both front wheels. It has five selectable operating modes which can be chosen by the driver from a dedicated control mounted on the centre console. There is standard mode, for grip on normal road surfaces. There is also snow mode (which I used diligently); all-terrain mode for dirt tracks, mud and wet grass and the like; and sand mode if you happen to wander into the stuff.
During the latter mode, the onboard computer allows slight wheel slip on both drive wheels simultaneously, to allow the car to make headway and reduce the risk of getting stuck. If you are feeling brave any time, there is also the ESP Off setting, which disconnects ESP and Grip Control up to 31mph, giving full control to the driver.
Above this speed, ESP Standard mode is selected automatically. Grip Control is available as a £400 option on the Feel and Flair models of the C3 Aircross.
While standard equipment is pretty comprehensive, some of its great features come at extra cost.
For example, the Cosmic Silver metallic paint will cost you £520 but it looked on the test car particularly striking against an ink-black roof. This was topped off by the orange colour pack (as a no-cost option).
The opening panoramic roof (£950) has to be a must for summer touring and the Techno Hi-Fi pack (£650) produced great sounds.
So for a total of £22,690 on the test car, you get a smart looking car that is stylish, functional, fun to drive and you feel safe to be in.
Citroën C3 Aircross Compact SUV Flair S&S BlueHDi 120 Manual
Cost of test car: £22,690
Warranty: three years, 60,000 miles
CO2 emissions: 107g/km
Engine capacity: 1,560cc
Combined cycle fuel economy: 68.9mpg
Standard equipment includes:
• Lane departure warning
• Remote central locking
• Rear parking sensors
• Keyless entry and start
• Seven-inch touchscreen
• Cruise control and speed limiter
• LED daylight running lights
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