Skoda Kodiaq GT: first images revealed

Skoda Kodiaq GT

The SUV-coupe is based on the existing five-door Kodiaq and looks to replicate the success of the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC

Skoda has released the first images of its new Kodiaq GT, a more rakish version of its big family SUV.

The Kodiaq GT is set to be Skoda’s flagship model in China, the only country in which it will be built and sold.

It will be in Chinese dealerships before the end of the year, manufactured as part of a joint venture between local car maker SAIC and Skoda.

The SUV-coupe is based on the existing five-door Kodiaq, which is already built in China for the domestic market.

The Kodiaq GT is new from the front doors backwards, the new car getting a a sloping roofline, sleeker glasshouse, and a new, angular tailgate. In addition, there are new bumpers and tail lights, and the addition of a small rear spoiler.

There are no current plans to offer the five-seater for sale in Europe. Skoda’s European production is understood to be at capacity, and there is simply nowhere to build it. Skoda is reluctant to import from China and would instead prefer to concentrate its efforts on being a success in the the car’s home market.

The Kodiaq GT will look to replicate the success premium brands including BMW and Mercedes-Benz have had with coupe-SUVs, with models including the BMW X4 and X6, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé and GLE Coupé.

Skoda will look to achieve that at a lower price point, and is the latest car maker to offer a coupe-SUV in emerging markets soon after Renault revealed the Arkana for sale in Russia.

Previous information revealed to Chinese media on the car claimed it to be 4634mm long, 1883mm wide and 1649mm high, making it 63mm shorter, 1mm wider and 27mm lower than the regular model. Prices are set to start at around CNY220,000 (around £24,500).

Two turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engines are set to be offered, with outputs of 186bhp and 220bhp, and are attached to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. driving either the front or all four-wheels.

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Source: Autocar Online

1,000mph land speed record project now in doubt due to funding woe

1,000mph land speed record project now in doubt due to funding woe

Enlarge (credit: Stefan Marjoram)

There’s sad news from the UK this morning, and it doesn’t even involve Brexit. (Actually, it does, sort of.) Bloodhound SSC, the land speed record car that’s been designed to break the 1,000mph limit, has entered administration (a process similar to bankruptcy in the US). This isn’t the final outcome for the project, but Bloodhound SSC does need to raise about $33 million (£25 million) in order to see things through to completion. And as if fate were not cruel enough, the announcement comes 21 years and a day after the last successful land speed record attempt, one that involved many of the same people.

Setting a new land speed record is no easy task. First, you have to build a wheeled vehicle capable of the speed required. In this case it’s a single-seat machine, powered by a one-two combo of jet engine (a Rolls-Royce EJ200) and rocket (a hybrid solid fuel/liquid oxidizer design from Nammo).

But even once you have your vehicle working, you need somewhere suitable to run it. A successful land speed record requires timed runs over a one-mile distance, run in both directions within one hour, so even a really long runway is only good if you want to test the first 20 percent of the speed range.

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Source: Ars Technica

Skoda Scala: name of new Ford Focus rival confirmed

Skoda Scala

Skoda Scala

Czech firm picks a Latin-based name for its Rapid replacement, which will be revealed later this year

Skoda’s new Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus rival, due to be revealed later this year, will be called the Scala.

The new car will effectively replace the Rapid hatchback in the Czech firm’s line-up. Scala is a Latin word that means ‘stairs’ or ‘ladder’, and company boss Bernhard Maier said that it represents Skoda’s next step forward in the compact segment. The Scala will also be the first Skoda to feature the brand’s name instead of the logo on the rear boot lid.

Maier said the Scala is “a completely new development that sets standards in terms of technology, safety and design in this class”.

The Scala is intended to be a more direct competitor than the Rapid to the big players in the volume hatchback segment, such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra

Skoda sales and marketing boss Alain Favey confirmed to Autocar earlier this year that the hatchback would not be called Rapid, instead taking a new name.

Favey said: “How should I put this? Our presence [in this segment] is very humble. With the current Rapid Spaceback, we didn’t manage to come through to convince people that we are a credible competitor in this segment.”

He added that the new car would have completely new styling and technology.

A new sketch, released by Skoda recently, hinted at the styling of the Scala, which follows on from the Vision RS concept shown at the Paris motor show.

Skoda will drop the slow-selling liftback version and concentrate on the Spaceback hatch for the Rapid replacement.

The five-door Scala will be the first Skoda car to use the Volkswagen Group’s MQB A0 platform, which is already used on models such as the Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen T-Roc

The next Fabia, due in 2020, and Skoda’s upcoming baby SUV, previewed by the Vision X concept, are also due to use this architecture.

Skoda said the platform will allow the new hatchback to have “compact exterior dimensions and generous interior space”. It added that the car would use  “numerous innovative assistance systems in that segment”. 

It will also be the first Skoda to receive a next-generation infotainment system that will then be rolled out across the range. Favey has described it as “state of the art”.

The model will use a range of petrol and diesel engines, including the Volkswagen Group’s three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol with power from 84bhp to 109bhp, as well as a 1.5-litre petrol unit with up to 148bhp. No hybrid or electric versions are planned and are understood to be too expensive to implement in a car of this size and price.

The Rapid is Skoda’s second-biggest-selling car worldwide after the Octavia. In 2017, it sold 211,000 units. Favey predicts that sales will double for the new model.

Read more

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Source: Autocar Online

Skoda Skoda: name of new Ford Focus rival confirmed

Skoda Scala

Skoda Scala

Czech firm picks a Latin-based name for its Rapid replacement, which will be revealed later this year

Skoda’s new Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus rival, due to be revealed later this year, will be called the Scala.

The new machine will effectively replace the Rapid hatchback in the Czech firm’s line-up. Scala is a latin word that means ‘stairs’ or ‘ladder’, and company boss Bernhard Maier said that it represents Skoda’s next step forward in the compact segment. The Scala will also be the first Skoda to feature the brand’ name instead of the logo on the rear boot lid.

Maier said the Scala is “a completely new development that sets standards in terms of technology, safety and design in this class.”

The Scala is intended to be a more direct competitor than the Rapid to the big players in the volume hatchback segment, such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra

Skoda sales and marketing boss Alain Favey confirmed to Autocar earlier this year that the hatchback would not be called Rapid, instead taking a new name.

Favey said: “How should I put this? Our presence [in this segment] is very humble. With the current Rapid Spaceback, we didn’t manage to come through to convince people that we are a credible competitor in this segment.”

He added that the new car would have completely new styling and technology.

A new sketch, released by Skoda recently, hinted at the styling of the Scala, which follows on from the Vision RS concept shown at the Paris motor show.

Skoda will drop the slow-selling liftback version and concentrate on the Spaceback hatch for the Rapid replacement.

The five-door Scala will be the first Skoda car to use the Volkswagen Group’s MQB AO platform, which is already used on models such as the Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen T-Roc

The next Fabia, due in 2020, and Skoda’s upcoming baby SUV, previewed by the Vision X concept, are also due to use this architecture.

Skoda said the platform will allow the new hatchback to have “compact exterior dimensions and generous interior space”. It added that the car would use  “numerous innovative assistance systems in that segment”. 

It will also be the first Skoda to receive a next-generation infotainment system that will then be rolled out across the range. Favey has described it as “state of the art”.

The model will use a range of petrol and diesel engines, including the Volkswagen Group’s three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol with power from 84bhp to 109bhp, as well as a 1.5-litre unit petrol with up to 148bhp. No hybrid or electric versions are planned and are understood to be too expensive to implement in a car of this size and price.

The Rapid is Skoda’s second biggest selling car worldwide after the Octavia. In 2017, it sold 211,000 units. Favey predicts that sales will double for the new model.

Read more

Skoda Rapid review

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Source: Autocar Online

Porsche plans electric SUV and Tesla Roadster-rivalling sports car

Porsche Boxster

Alongside its upcoming Taycan saloon, Porsche is planning a plethora of zero-emission models by 2022

Porsche is planning a battery-electric SUV and all-electric Boxster/Cayman sports car, plus a Taycan Targa, for launch by 2022 as part of its investment in electrification.

Porsche finance director Lutz Meschke revealed the plan for a battery SUV and sports car at an event in Germany last week. “You can expect a SUV BEV [battery-electric vehicle] by 2022 at the latest,” he told journalists, without elaborating further.

Meschke also told journalists that “the Boxster and Cayman could be suitable for electrification”.

Departed Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller – previously Porsche’s boss – committed every group brand to having an electrified version of every model by 2023, and Porsche was no exception.

Porsche readying electric Taycan for 2019 reveal

Meschke referred to the electric utility vehicle as a “big SUV”, which would indicate a Cayenne-sized car, but the Cayenne is just a year old and not due for replacement until 2024/25. It would make a natural rival for the Tesla Model X.

To get an electric SUV to market more rapidly, Porsche is likely to focus on the replacement for the mid-size Macan – which currently shares its platform with Audi’s Q5 – as it is due for replacement around 2021. However, there are at least three other possibilities: a variant of Audi’s new E-tron SUV, a re-engineered Cayenne, or a ground-up new Porsche all-electric SUV.

Porsche is moving fast in the direction of BEVs post-Dieselgate and the new Taycan four-door has been in development for four years and will be launched in late 2019.

This month, Porsche announced that it will drop diesel from its engine line-up. This will especially affect the Macan, one of its bestselling vehicles and sold with a rich mix of diesel engines.

Porsche is already working on a new, all-electric platform, called the PPE, jointly with Audi for a next generation of electric vehicles. The PPE is all-new, but includes learning from the J1 underpinning that’s the basis for the new four-door Taycan BEV, due on sale “by the end of 2019”.

The Taycan will become a family of models with further strong hints that the Cross Turismo, shown as a concept at Geneva this year, has a production future. “The Taycan derivatives have already been showcased,” said Meschke.

It has also emerged that the Zuffenhausen plant where the Taycan will be built is preparing for a Targa version, for launch in 2020/21. Details are scarce, but the Taycan Targa is most likely to feature a large glazed opening that slides down to the rear hatch area. The J1 underpinning could readily be adapted with a short wheelbase and two-door body as the basis of a new compact Porsche sports car. However, such a mod would reduce battery size, range and performance.

Preparing for more electric models after the Taycan, the new PPE architecture is in development in parallel with the Taycan and could be ready for market in 2022, when Porsche says its BEV SUV will be on sale.

It is unclear if the PPE platform is sufficiently flexible to underpin multiple powertrain layouts and firewall heights, but Porsche has already built an electric Boxster E prototype. A packaging prototype, it was also touted as a possible rival for the Tesla Roadster. But that was seven years ago, an age in electric car development.

The Boxster E had componentry borrowed from VW’s Golf blue-e motion and a 121bhp electric motor fed by a 340-cell lithium ion battery pack, all packaged in the space vacated by the flat-six combustion engine.

Porsche engineers learned a lot from that car, including concerns that the weight of the battery powertrain would affect performance and handling, the latter because the weight raised the centre of gravity. One told Autocar last year that “fully electrified sports cars would work well for longitudinal acceleration, but the weight disadvantage is in the handling”. Whether a future 911 will use solely battery power is also up for debate.

Meschke confirmed that the next 911, in its new 992 guise and due on sale later this year, will include a hybrid version.

The 911 hybrid won’t be available at launch, but is pencilled in to the plan as part of the new model electrification onslaught by 2022 – to fulfil the group strategic target of every model with an electrified version by 2023.

Porsche engineers have previously told Autocar that the packaging issues of a pure battery electric drivetrain were incompatible with the 911 as a fine handling sports car with everyday usable 2+2 seating.

Last year, an engineer told Autocar that next-generation solid state batteries, which are lighter and predicted to be able to be shaped to reduce package space, might be the required breakthrough to make a 911 BEV a reality. However, solid state technology may be a decade from production.

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Source: Autocar Online

Porsche plans electric SUV and Tesla Roadster-rivalling sportscar

Porsche Boxster

Due by 2022, the brand is planning more electric models to run alongside the upcoming Taycan saloon

Porsche is planning a battery electric SUV and all-electric Boxster/Cayman sportscar, plus a Taycan Targa, for launch by 2022 as part of its EU6b investment in electrification.

Porsche finance director Lutz Meschke revealed the plan for a battery SUV and sportcars at an event in Germany last week. ‘You can expect a SUV BEV [battery electric vehicle] by 2022 at the latest,” he told journalists, without elaborating further.

Meschke also told journalists that “the Boxster and Cayman could be suitable for electrification”.

Departed VW Group boss Matthias Muller – previously Porsche’s boss – committed every group brand to having an electrified version of every model by 2023 – and Porsche was no exception.

Porsche readying electric Taycan for 2019 reveal

Meschke referred to the electric utility vehicle as a “big SUV”, which would indicate a Cayenne-sized car, but the Cayenne is juts a one year old and not due for replacement until 2024/25. Of course it would make a natural rival for the Tesla Model X.

So to get an electric SUV to market more rapidly, Porsche is likely to focus on the replacement for the mid-size Macan – which currently shares its platform with Audi’s Q5 – as it is due for replacement around 2021. However, there are at least three other possibilities – a variant of Audi’s new e-tron SUV, a re-engineered Cayenne, or a ground-up new Porsche all-electric SUV.

Porsche is moving fast in the direction of BEVs post-dieselgate and the new Taycan four-door has been in development for four years and will be launched in late 2019.

And this month Porsche announced that it will drop diesel from its engine line-up. This will especially affect the Macan, one of its best-selling vehicles and sold with a rich mix of diesel sales.

Porsche is already working on a new, all-electric platform, called the PPE, jointly with Audi for a next generation of electric vehicles. The PPE is all-new, but includes learning from the J1 underpinning that’s the basis for the new four-door Taycan BEV, due on sale “by the end of 2019”.

The Taycan will become a family of models with further strong hints that the Cross Turismo, shown as a concept at Geneva this year has a production future. “The Taycan derivatives have already been showcased,” said Meschke.

It has also emerged that the Zuffenhausen plant where the Taycan will be built is preparing for a Targa version, for launch in 2020/21. Details are scarce – but the Taycan Targa is most likely to feature a large glazed opening that slides down to the rear hatch area. The J1 underpinning could readily be adapted with a short wheelbase and two-door body as the basis of a new compact Porsche sportscar. Although such a mod would reduce battery size, range and performance.

Preparing for more electric models after the Taycan, the new PPE architecture is in development in parallel with the Taycan and could be ready for market in 2022, when Porsche says its BEV SUV will be on sale.

It is unclear if the PPE platform is sufficiently flexible to underpin multiple powertrain layouts and firewall heights, but Porsche has already built an electric Boxster E prototype. A packaging prototype, it was also touted as a possible rival for the Tesla Roadster. But that was seven years ago, an age in electric car development.

The Boxster E had componentry borrowed from VW’s Golf blue-e motion and a 121bhp electric motor fed by a 340 cell lithium-ion battery pack, all packaged in the space vacated by the flat-six combustion engine.

Porsche engineers learned a lot from that car, including concerns that the weight of the battery powertrain would affect performance and handling, the latter because the weight raised the centre of gravity. One told Autocar last year that “fully electrified sports cars would work well for longitudinal acceleration, but the weight disadvantage is in the handling”. Whether a future 911 will use solely battery power is also up for debate.

Meschke confirmed that the next 911, in its new 992 guise and due on sale later this year, will include a hybrid version.

The 911 hybrid won’t be available at launch, but is pencilled in to the plan as part of the new model electrification onslaught by 2022 – to fulfil the Group strategic target of every model with an electrified version by 2023.

Porsche engineers have previously told Autocar that the packaging issues of a pure battery electric drivetrain were incompatible with the 911 as a fine handling sportscar with everyday usable two-plus-two seating.

Last year, an engineer told Autocar that next-generation solid state batteries, which are lighter and predicted to be able to be shaped to reduce package space, might be the required breakthrough to make a 911 BEV a reality. However, solid state technology may be a decade from production.

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Source: Autocar Online

2019 BMW X7 to be revealed imminently

BMW dark image of X7

BMW’s teaser image of the upcoming X7

BMW’s largest SUV will be sold in the UK from February 2019 and make its public debut at LA motor show in November

The BMW X7 will be revealed imminently according to the German car maker, which has release a dark image of the front of the upcoming large SUV.

Shown on BMW’s Instagram channel, the words accompanying the image said: “The next big thing is coming soon. The first-ever #BMW #X7.”

We’ve already seen hints off the car: in a video released earlier this year (below) showing a disguised X7’s off-roading ability, in patent images which surfaced online and during our recent camouflaged prototype drive of the car.

X7 prototype drive

Due to make its public debut at the Los Angeles motor show in November, the range-topping SUV, which will also go up against the Mercedes-Benz GLS, is heavily inspired by the X7 iPerformance concept at last year’s Frankfurt motor show.

BMW’s upcoming seven-seater will initially feature a naturally aspirated engine, rather than the hybrid powertrain of the X7 iPerformance. However, a hybrid variant will come later. 

An X7 M50d M Performance, as well as xDrive40i, xDrive50i and xDrive30d variants will be available from launch, with the 3.0-litre diesel in 30d, 40d and 50d guises and the twin-turbo 4.4-litre petrol V8 from the X6 xDrive50i expected to make up the meat of the range. 

It’s not known if an upper M Performance model is will sit above the M50d M Performance – it’s aimed at the US and Chinese markets – so an equivalent to the M760Li could act as the range-topper. X7 xDriveM60i badging could be used.

Sitting alongside the 7 Series at the top of BMW’s line-up, the car is due on UK roads from February 2019. The X7 has been spotted testing several times in the past few months, having been in development since 2015, offering glimpses of the future SUV’s design and scale. It will be the largest SUV yet by BMW.

Its dimensions remain similar to the concept. This means a length of 5020mm, 2020mm width and 1800mm in height, as well as a 3010mm wheelbase, while the car will be roughly 113mm longer, 82mm wider and 37mm higher than the X5, with a 76mm longer wheelbase. 

It’s around 110mm shorter and a little wider than the Mercedes-Benz GLS and around 30mm longer than the Range Rover.

It will have three rows of seats, making it a rival for the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator in the US and China – two core markets for the car. 

Familiar design features such as halo daytime running lights and kidney grilles will appear. The light bar seen on the X7 iPerformance is not carried over to the production model.

While the seven-seat X7 is being developed with the US and Chinese markets in mind, it was confirmed for the UK by former BMW head of sales and marketing Ian Robertson in 2016.

Speaking to Autocar at the New York motor show that year, Robertson said: “We will have some versions that are top-end luxury, as well as more mainstream versions. I can’t talk about pricing now, but given that this car will have all the technology and luxury of the 7 Series, it gives you a pretty good idea of the price point we’re talking about.”

Previously, it was thought that the X7 would be built on an extended version of the X5’s underpinnings, but Robertson said many parts are actually bespoke. “If you put both cars next to each other, the resemblance is small in terms of wheelbase, etc. We’re not going to just extend the wheelbase; it’s a complete new panel cell.”

The X7 will be built at the company’s plant at Spartanburg, USA.

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Source: Autocar Online

Opinion: how Bloodhound can survive

Bloodhound SSC

Despite the project now running under a crew of just 6, its administrator insists that this new court-sanctioned phase in its eventful history is not the end

Everyone at Bloodhound — including the remarkably positive-sounding administrator, Andrew Sheridan — insists that this new court-sanctioned phase in its eventful history is not the end. 

Bloodhound has run out of money, and is currently being operated by a skeleton crew of six people rather than the usual 16. But its technical director Mark Chapman describes the project as “ready to go” to its purpose-built South African track in preparation for its first serious shakedown next year. And administrator Sheridan, whose firm recently found a new owner for the Force India F1 team, makes it clear he wouldn’t have taken this assignment had he not been confident of a good outcome. 

So what went wrong? The problem boils down to financial uncertainties connected with the state of the world economy, and with Brexit. Promising leads have repeatedly evaporated. Global majors, usually public companies capable of financing this project to its three-to-four year, £25million, 1000mph climax, are proving reluctant to make medium term commitments. 

Bloodhound land speed project enters administration

Another unwelcome thread is that, for all Bloodhound’s undoubted success at attracting the UK’s younger generation, especially schoolkids, to STEM subjects, a CO2-heavy land speed record car appeals less today to an electric-aware younger generation than it did even three years ago, and certainly when the project was mooted 11 years back.

Those of us who want success for Bloodhound must depend on the value of the massive global awareness the project has built for itself, and its appeal to the kind of commercial giant that invests in World Cup football or Formula One. As Andrew Sheridan eloquently puts it, the £25m needed to achieve 1000mph is far less than it takes to run the slowest F1 team on the grid. Described that way Bloodhound is a bargain.

Read more

Bloodhound land speed project enters administration

Bloodhound SSC: inside the factory building a 1000mph car

Bloodhound wants electric power for its 600bhp fuel pump



Source: Autocar Online

Bloodhound land speed project enters administration

Bloodhound SSC

Citing a shortage of funds, the 1000mph land speed record project founded in 2007 has entered administration

Bloodhound, the 1000mph land speed record project founded in 2007 by previous record holder Richard Noble and current holder Andy Green, has entered administration, citing a shortage of funds since running the car at 200mph on Newquay Airport a year ago.

Team insiders say the project would need around £5 million to run the car at 500-600mph under jet power on its already-prepared 18km track in South Africa, around £15m to achieve 800mph and break the existing record, and around £25m to reach its ultimate goal of lifting the record to 1000mph.  

Despite the “ghastly” connotation attached to administration, the Bloodhound team insists this is far from the end for the project and may well be its means of survival. The FRP Advisory team taking the helm is the same group that recently found new owners and a stable future for the Force India Formula 1 team. Joint administrator Andrew Sheridan appears to share the optimism, describing Bloodhound as “a truly ground-breaking project that has built a global audience and helped inspire a new generation of STEM [science, technology, engineering, maths] talent in the UK”.

“We wouldn’t choose to be in this position,” says one Bloodhound insider, “but we’re greatly encouraged by the behaviour of the administrator. They recognise that we’re unique, and that we’ve already built a great deal of global exposure. They say they wouldn’t take us on if they weren’t confident of a good outcome. The dream scenario is that we’ll be in this state for a month or six weeks, then money will flow again and we can get back into action. We’re ready to go.”

Bloodhound SSC: inside the factory building a 1000mph car

Bloodhound bosses estimate the project would take about 10 months to get ready for its first South African runs, building the team up from the present five or six to around 15 people. For the full-on 1000mph record runs, they’d need closer to 40 people.

In an unusually bullish statement, Sheridan said he believes administration provides the team with “breathing space” to identify new investors. “While not an insignificant amount,” he said, “the £25m Bloodhound requires to break the land speed record is a fraction of the cost of, for example, finishing last in an F1 season or running an America’s Cup team. 

“This is an opportunity for the right investor to leave a lasting legacy. We are already in discussion with a number of potential investors and would encourage any other interested party to contact us without delay.”

Read more

First Bloodhound SSC speed record attempt confirmed for 2019

Bloodhound SSC: inside the factory building a 1000mph car

Bloodhound wants electric power for its 600bhp fuel pump



Source: Autocar Online

Citroen C3 Aircross long-term review

Citroen C3 Aircross Flair Puretech 130 long-term review - hero front

Is Citroen’s high-riding supermini good to live with and to look at? We’re about to find out

Why we’re running it: To see if this quirkiest of compact crossovers has more to offer than its head-turning styling

Month 1Specs

Life with a Citroen C3 Aircross: Month 1

Welcoming the C3 Aircross to the fleet – 12th September 2018

There’s really no escaping the charm of the compact crossover, is there?

Take the humble hatchback, jack it up like it’s on stilts and apply some off-road-inspired design cues. Job done. The great British public has gone mad for SUV-themed superminis, and so manufacturers are sure to keep them coming to satisfy our thirst.

It’s an increasingly crowded corner of the market, so it pays to stand out, which is something the Citroën C3 Aircross has no trouble doing. The Aircross replaces the MPV-inspired C3 Picasso in Citroën’s line-up with the SUV styling du jour, resulting in a crossover that oozes quirky French charm inside and out. It gets Citroën’s trademark focus on comfort, albeit in distilled form, and practicality that’s on par with the best in the class.

This might not be the most dynamic, most luxurious or most affordable car of its kind, but we reckon it’s probably the most interesting. And seeing how it’s already the company’s second-best-selling vehicle behind the C3 hatchback, after a little under ten months on sale, it would seem customers agree.

We called the design “instantly likeable” when we road tested the C3 Aircross, even if we determined it “wasn’t quite a match for the Seat Arona on performance or handling sophistication”. To find out if that matters for day-in, day-out driving, and to discover whether there’s more to like about the Aircross than its standout styling, we’ll be running one for the next six months.

Our long-term test car is powered by the PSA Group’s near-ubiquitous 1.2-litre turbocharged three-pot petrol. It’s an engine that can be found in everything from a crossover like this C3 Aircross all the way up to Peugeot’s 5008 SUV, and is seen here in its most potent form. Power and torque outputs of 128bhp and 170lb ft should be well-suited to a compact crossover, while the six-speed manual gearbox will hopefully be a better match for the short-geared, rev-happy motor than the five-speed ’box fitted to our road test car.

Combined fuel economy is quoted at 54.3mpg (NEDC), and while that figure would put it firmly among its peers, we’re expecting inner-city life and all the slow-speed driving that entails to make achieving such a target something of a struggle.

More than half of UK buyers opt for the top-spec Flair trim, so we’ve done the same. It builds on mid-spec Feel variants by adding 17in alloy wheels, along with keyless entry and start, a sliding rear bench for a temporary boost to boot space, climate control, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. It also upgrades the 7.0in infotainment touchscreen with Citroën Connect Navigation, although with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay both included as standard, Citroën’s offering will need to impress if it is to replace the Waze app as our sat-nav system of choice.

We avoided loading our car with options, choosing only the blue paint and contrasting white roof (£520). The silver colour pack, a no-cost option, then added a further splash of colour to the wing mirrors, headlight surrounds and roof rails.

You can buy a C3 Aircross with Grip Control, a £400 option that uses electronics to adjust the traction control in place of four-wheel drive for all-terrain driving, but seeing how few customers feel the need for it, we decided we could live without as well.

With no child seats to fit (in the immediate future, at any rate), we also declined to add the Family Pack (£490) and its fold-flat front passenger seat. We’ll have to wait and see if we’ll regret not ticking the box for the £650 Techno HiFi pack, which adds wireless smartphone charging, a 3.5in colour instrument panel, uprated speaker system and colour heads-up display. As is, the instrument panel makes do with monochrome.

This brought the total cost to £20,105, which is on par with a Seat Arona 1.0 TSI 115 in FR trim – in our view, still the best all-round compact crossover available today. The thing is, while the Seat may offer a better drive, it has a tenth of the Citroën’s personality. That certainly translates into the cabin. Our test car’s mica grey interior is the most subdued colour option available, but the old-school dials and quirky shapes still make a good first impression.

Initial thoughts? The thrummy three-pot has a pleasant amount of shove around town, the high driving position gives a decent view of the road ahead, and there’s no shortage of space in the cabin. With the back seats in place there’s plenty of boot storage, but once the bench is folded flat there’s more room here than you’d find in a VW Golf. That should come in handy for a few of the road trips we have planned for the car.

It’s not all good news, though. The seats don’t have the high-density foam padding of those in the C4 Cactus (in which they’re part of Citroën’s advanced comfort ethos). It might be an issue on longer journeys. Having the climate controls relegated to the touchscreen, instead of on dedicated buttons, makes changing temperatures on the move a bit fiddly, and the square gearknob is overly chunky and awkward to grip too.

Our time with the Aircross so far has mostly been spent in London’s stop-start traffic, where fuel economy has hovered in the mid-30mpg region. Our car won’t be resigned to the city life for long, though: it already has a spot on the Eurotunnel booked for later in the year to see how it performs as a long-distance tourer.

Second Opinion

Driving the C3 Aircross straight after a C4 Cactus, I was disappointed to note the smaller car is more crashy around town. It smooths out at speed, but the Cactus’s hydraulic bump stops are sorely missed here. Another bugbear was the speed camera warning ‘bong’ interrupting the radio, taking a bit of the shine off an otherwise likeable car.

Lawrence Allan

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Citroen C3 Aircross Flair 130 Puretech specifications

Specs: Price New £19,585 Price as tested: £20,105 Options: Breathing Blue paint £520, silver colour pack £0

Test Data: Engine 1,199cc, three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol Power 128bhp Torque 170lb ft Top speed 124mph 0-62mph 10.4sec Claimed fuel economy 54.3mpg Test fuel economy 34.1mpg CO2 119g/km Faults None Expenses None

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Source: Autocar Online

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