TOP OF THE TRIO
Citroën’s first serious off-roader has received some midlife tweaks as well as a new dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Ian Robertson reports.
Anyone that has half an eye on the automotive world will know that when Peugeot and Citroën decided they needed an off-roader to compete with the likes of the Land Rover Freelander, they turned to Mitsubishi of Japan to pool ideas. And while Mitsubishi provided the basic design, PSA Peugeot-Citroën donated the engine – a development of the 2.2-litre HDi engine already seen across the French car makers’ ranges. In this guise, it develops 154bhp and 280lb ft of torque, and is pretty similar to the engine installed in Land Rover’s Freelander 2. Now, two years on from the C-Crosser’s launch, Citroën has taken the opportunity to tweak its off-roader, to up its game, compared to newer rivals.
Most important of all of the changes is the addition of a new automatic gearbox, similar in design to Volkswagen’s acclaimed DSG transmission. Citroën calls their new ‘box DCS, which stands for Dual-Clutch-System. While most buyers will simply choose to use it in its automatic mode, there’s also the option of changing gears manually courtesy of the gear lever, or by the steering wheel paddleshifts. In ‘normal’ automatic mode, the changes are smooth and perfect for lazy motoring, but with the ‘Sport’ mode selected, responses are sharpened considerably, and will be favoured by eager drivers.
On the inside, there’s a new padded design for the dashboard and door inserts, and new chrome inserts around the dials and vents. This lifts the design compared to the previous models, but still leaves large areas of hard plastics where modern soft-touch materials would be found in the majority of the C-Crosser’s main rivals. That said, the materials used feel durable and built to last, while the leather seats are quality items, offering decent levels of support and a comfortable driving position, thanks to plenty of available adjustment. Compared to the leader of this segment, the Land Rover Freelander 2, the C-Crosser offers one clear advantage, and that’s the standard fitment of seven seats. Admittedly, though, the rearmost seats are only suitable for small adults or children, but its inclusion is a plus point nonetheless. In five-seat mode, there’s plenty of luggage space, and the middle seats slide and recline adding to its versatility.
At £27,320, the C-Crosser Exclusive isn’t cheap, but it looks good – certainly the best looking of the Citroën-Mitsubishi- Peugeot trio, has an easy to use selectable four-wheel-drive system, together with a brand new twin-clutch automatic system that offers decent levels of fuel economy and low CO2 emissions compared to traditional automatic off-roaders. There’s electric heated leather seats, a full compliment of safety equipment, xenon headlights, parking sensors, a six-disc CD player and rear privacy glass, over and above the generous amounts of equipment that are found on VTR+ models. Whether the £2,775 premium is worth it, compared to the entry model, only you can be the judge.
RIVALS: Land Rover Freelander 2 TD4 XS, Nissan Qashqai+2 Tekna 2.0 dCi 4×4, Peugeot 4007 GT HD i 156
- Engine: 2179cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel with particulate filter
- Gearbox: 6-speed automatic
- Max Power: 154bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 280lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 2,000kg
- Max speed: 123mph
- 0-62mph: 11.1secs
- Combined Consumption: 38.7mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 192g/km (J)
- Bootspace: 184/1,686litres
- Insurance group: 15
Competitive economy and emissions, refined and comfortable to drive, roomy in five-seat mode.
Some hard plastics spoil an otherwise decent package, rearmost seats quite cramped.