Two years ago, Citroën presented a new strategic plan for Latin America called Citroën 4ALL, a radical change in its brand and product approach, which seeks to return to its origins, where it offers simple, reliable, bold and accessible cars.
This four-year plan includes the launch of three new models developed under the C-Cubed Project, and achieving a 4% market share in the region.
The first of these models is the New C3, a simple compact, bold in design, spacious inside and well equipped, launched in Chile at the beginning of 2023. This milestone alone allows the brand to jump to 0.7% of participation in 2020, to just under 3% by the end of this year. In Chile, although the effect of the New C3 is not the same, the brand shows an increase of 0.6% in 2023, where it intends to end up with a 2.5% market share.
And what is the reason for so many introductions? Because Citroën today presents the second model of the C-Cubed: the C3 Aircross, a compact SUV revealed at the beginning of 2023, but which will now begin its commercial journey in Brazil with definitive versions.
By the way, the New C3 Aircross will only arrive in Chile in September, due to industrial delays in the production of automatic versions.
C3 Aircross: setting up
This new C3 Aircross has nothing to do with the model presented in Europe in mid-2017, landed in Chile at the end of that year and updated in December 2021, although they share the method and some features.
That model is intended to be the largest SUV in the segment, offering exceptional ride comfort typical of Citroën, functionality similar to an MPV like the C4 Picasso of the time, a lot of technology and, as always with the brand, high fuel efficiency. .fuel. In Chile it was never able to shine as it happened in Europe, mainly because of its low aesthetic appeal and its high price compared to other compact SUVs.
And that second point is exactly what the new regional development is attacking first: being accessible. In Brazil they announced it as the cheapest SUV-B in the market. And according to the general manager of Citroën Chile, Marcelo Sepúlveda, when the model is launched in September it will have really convenient prices.
By the way, the C3 Aircross will be launched in two versions. One for five passengers with Feel Pack equipment and aspirated engine, and one for seven passengers, with Shine equipment and turbo engine. For this reason, the spectrum of its potential competitors is large.
Always depends on the final price of the C3 Aircross, for the first model we can count the Chevrolet Tracker, Toyota Yaris Cross, Nissan Kicks (all manufactured in Brazil), Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, Suzuki Grand Vitara, MG ZS, Chery Tiggo 2 Pros, etc.
For the 7-seater version there are less: Toyota Rush, Suzuki XL7, Mitsubishi Xpander, Changan X7 Plus, Chevrolet Captiva, Kia Carens, Hyundai Grand Creta…
C3 Aircross: parts
For its development, Citroën defined certain special characteristics that the C3 Aircross must have:
- Unique design
- Impossible street presence
- High comfort
- latest technology
To achieve this, it uses the well-known CMP platform that gave life to the C3, but modified for an SUV, with 65% high or ultra-high resistance steels and greater structural strength. It includes the construction of a new rear axle that will allow the third row of seats to be anchored, and a new set of suspensions, that will allow the creation of the comfort needed in an SUV.
The brand indicated that it conducted more than one million kilometers of durability tests before its launch.
The C3 Aircross has the following dimensions:
- Length: 4,320 mm (+339 mm for C3)
- District Axles: 2,675 mm (+135 mm for C3)
- Height: 1.720 mm
- Size: 1.678 mm
- Trunk: 493 liters expandable to 1,080 liters
- Ground clearance: 223 mm
- Entry: 23.8°
- Ventral: 23,1°
- Movie: 32,0°
The mechanical part of the new model will handle the two well-known Stellantis engines.
The first is the 1.6-liter aspirated four-cylinder of the VTi family, which produces 115 HP and 150 Nm, and which will be coupled to a 5-speed manual transmission.
The second is from Fiat and debuted on the Pulse: it is a three-cylinder 1.0-liter turbo, which generates 120 HP and 200 Nm of torque from 1,750 rpm, and which will be managed by a CVT-type automatic transmission.
The chassis includes independent McPherson-type front suspension and semi-independent rear suspension, with a torsion bar with coils, while the brakes are discs at the front and drums at the rear.
Citroën C3 Aircross: exterior and interior design
A unique design and an impressive presence on the road require elements that significantly differentiate it from the C3, and this is achieved with a marked visual strength through extended fenders, a wide front, a straight rear end cut with an axe, skidplates. (front and rear skid plates) big and different, and the traditional low plastics around the whole car.
Not only that, but they sport concave and interlocking connected surfaces that emphasize that kind of musculature that the designers tried to print on the bodywork.
At the front it has the traditional Citroën signature light for a while (false V), includes piano black details, 16 or 17-inch wheels and, optionally, two-tone bodywork with white or black roof.
Inside the doors is all the space. Citroën says the volume is perfect for a family car and dares to announce the largest cabin in the segment. The feeling, in any case, is that.
It is worth saying that there is a better perceived quality than the C3, but cheap materials continue to prevail, this time mixed with new textures and colors to give it more sophistication. And the build quality has also improved, it feels more solid, and the brand gives us plugs where in the C3 only one screw is visible.
The driving position and the passenger position are high, resulting in excellent visibility, and the scoreboards and the infotainment system are digital, the first measuring 7 inches (in color and configurable) and the second measuring 10 inches.
It offers wireless connectivity for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but still adds 6 USB ports spread across three rows of seats. We miss the wireless charger, but the brand will offer it as a factory accessory.
There are 15 storage compartments spread throughout the interior, upholstered in leather in the Shine version, air conditioning, air vents placed on the roof and has its own control for the rear seats.
The second row is really big, with plenty of head and knee room, and plenty of room under the front seats to put your feet up. There are two USB ports and the glass controls are located on the center console.
Access to the third row is achieved through two straps, the first folds the backrest and the second raises and folds the seat. The space is not small, but people like me have to do some contortions to get inside.
This line is for children, obviously, because it is placed close to the floor. Although there is room up top, it forces you to bend your legs too much. An adult like me, 1.66 meters tall, can walk there, but only for short trips and less.
The trunk behind this third row does not exist, but the two rear seats can be folded or removed by simply pulling a strap. They are lightweight, they can be stored at home when extra cargo space is needed, or left and folded. This is a solution provided by Citroën since the time of the Xsara Picasso, although in this case, the anchors are much simpler.
Citroën C3 Aircross: contact
We traveled to Salvador de Bahia, in the north of Brazil, to learn about and drive this model, and although it was not a very long driving experience, only 35 kilometers of secondary roads (cobbled) and about road with different surfaces, we can say. something about it, how it behaves.
It’s worth saying that we’ve only driven versions of the Shine with the 1.0 Turbo engine and CVT box, and first impressions are that it falls a little short on thrust. But then, when you take the hand, you realize that the problem is not the engine, but the box that does not handle the engine well.
This Stellantis CVT reacts quite slowly, which results in slowing down the operation of the engine, especially when we need it to act quickly, for example, when overtaking. But it’s a fine line: the engine and transmission are good for 90% of the driving situations one might encounter.
It’s an engine that will push hard if you keep it going, but in that operation it can be quite noisy. And since the C3 Aircross must be accessible, there is less insulating material than we would like, although this does not affect the conversation, of course.
The best thing is the ride comfort, very Citroën style. Some colleagues found it too soft. I think it is very consistent with the roads we found in South America. It was very smooth on rough surfaces like the cobblestone roads we crossed, and comfortable on the races. It could have a little more stability in the curves, but this is a car focused on comfort and it delivers on that.
The steering is the weakest of the pack, but it has the weight and feedback you’d expect from something like this. It doesn’t react quickly, but it works at high and low speeds.
Finally there is the question of operation from the driving position, and starting with a steering wheel of good size and feel, followed by the visibility and accessibility of the various controls, I think that the C3 Aircross fulfills the role of a good family SUV.
It’s not the best handling SUV, obviously, but if we compare it to most of its competitors, it’s pretty high.
It is undoubtedly a good alternative when it comes to Chile, especially for those who need an SUV for seven passengers at an affordable price.