When our editor called to say it was my turn for some ëFlairí, in the form of our long-term C3 Aircross, I may have struggled to sound jubilant. My past experience of CitroÎn audio systems has led me to believe they are rather terrible, although ëourí Flair trimmed car does boast six speakers, rather than four in the entry-level petrol-powered Touch version. A minor worry perhaps, but Iíve been rather spoilt by the Bose sound system in the Renault Scenic I was stepping out of, and music on the road is important to me. Iíve also enjoyed huge amounts of space for all my camera gear in the Scenic, and having driven a C3 hatchback last year ñ the supermini the Aircross is based on ñ I feared the manual gearbox would feel like stirring soup on the hob.
I love the refreshing look and design of the smaller CitroÎn C3, but after finding the supermini had a somewhat lazy gear change and floaty ride, I could only imagine the taller Aircross SUV version would be even softer in its responses. With no time for a quick spin to disprove any judgements Iíd made on a car before even sitting in it, I packed photography gear and a couple of suitcases into the boot ñ I donít travel light ñ for a work trip down to the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
ìI wasnít expecting thatî was my first thought, when I closed the boot with the last of my gear on board. Apart from a few smaller bags and a tripod which I positioned across the rear footwells, everything went in the boot. I slid the rear seats as forward as they can go and tilted the seat backs into their most upright position, winning a few extra litres of space. For even more room, you can also put the boot floor in its lowest position, or take the plinth out altogether.
I was impressed again when I hopped in and connected my phone to the Bluetooth system, with phone calls and music streaming all set up in a matter of seconds, thanks to an intuitive setup process. Setting off and reaching for the gear lever, I was also happy to find it didnít feel at all like preparing a cup-a-soup, even if neutral seems to be positioned where Iíd expect third gear to be. Around 200 yards after leaving my house, I discovered that the engine pulls well, too.
Heading onto the M40 and picking up speed for the trip south, I chose some music and cranked up the volume. Low and behold, itís rich in bass and clear enough to enjoy at 70mph. I just wish it went a bit louder, so if I was configuring an Aircross myself, Iíd opt for the £650 Techno HiFi Pack, which not only upgrades the audio system, but also adds a head-up display, wireless phone charging and colour instrumentation on the dashboard, making it a rather good value option. On reflection then, the C3 Aircross might be alright after all.
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Date arrived 24th January 2018
Fuel economy 68.9mpg (combined) 48.1mpg (on test)
The air vents work well and have a great design.
Storage is meagre for an SUV, lacking hidden cubby holes and large oddment bins.