Citroen as a brand is still relatively unknown in India, but unlike Peugeot, which burned its chances in our market many times, this French car-maker looks to have a slightly better strategy.
Recently, Citroen showed the C5 Aircross SUV in India which is due for an end-of-2020 launch. However, that model will not be the volume generator, as for that you need a compact SUV in your portfolio.
That SUV for Citroen is likely to be the C3 Aircross, While the Aircross has not been confirmed for India as yet, we still drove it to give you a taste of what the Citroen experience is all about.
First of all, the French do not subscribe to subtlety or the segment design norms as the C3 Aircross looks radical and futuristic. It is funky and does not look as square jawed like a Brezza, but appears to be unique nevertheless.
There are colour packs or the two-tone shades on offer which look cool, but the big wheels and the compact stance does makes it seem smaller than other compact SUVs.
The C3 Aircross is not actually under 4m but slightly more than that. For India, however, it would be modified to suit that rule (under 4m benefits).
Inside the car, the theme is appropriately youthful. The design is unique and the emphasis is on giving it a squarish appeal. There are colour accents too to liven up the ambience. The quality of the interiors is decent and as per class standards, but it is the equipment list which is interesting.
Thus, while you have a nondescript 7-inch touchscreen on the one hand, there is also a glass panoramic sunroof — something that would endear the car to prospective buyers. Other features include wireless charging, mirror screen and even a heads-up-display.
The boot can be enlarged to a massive 620l and the C3 AirCross still claims to be one of the most modular compact SUVs around. The seats are quite comfortable and seating three at the back is a breeze.
In terms of engine options, there are choices of three and four cylinder turbocharged units. The petrol is a turbo three-cylinder 1.2 unit and that’s what we drove. Bringing 110 bhp to the table, this engine is decent with a focus on in-city driving. This means low-end punch is good, but performance goes flat when pushed hard.
That said, this would work in India considering its reasonably quick and efficient also. There is a 5/6-speed manual offered and also a 6-speed auto. We had the manual on test and the shift action was decent.
Overall, the C3 Aircross provides a crucial preview of what to expect from Citroen and the impressions are largely positive. What stands out is the design and the funky cabin plus and also equipment levels and drive quality.
For India, there would have to be numerous changes made, and these would invclude aggressive pricing. So, while the competition in this segment is tough, there is no doubt that the Aircross is unlike anything else out there in the Indian market. That may ultimately be its trump card.