Monday, 13 August 2012


Citroen’s new C4 Aircross is based on the old Mitsubishi ASX. There, I’ve said it. This will become important when I put things into perspective later. Launched to a dazzled Mzansi motoring media fraternity in Mozambique, the C4 Aircross is the French company’s first foray into SUV territory, although it’s had some wagons/ estates in the past.

While the car shares much of its underpinnings with said ASX, in terms of look and feel the two are different. For example, outside the 4.3 metre long C4 Aircross features an elegant facial expression, accentuated by a front end with big headlights, drooping LED daytime running lights and a wide front grille. The rear end is also quite stylish, with axe-shaped rear lights and a kind of seamless integration between the darkened C-pillar and the back window.

There’s basically four trim levels, two of which I managed to drive through the picturesque old Moz. Two-litre 2WD manual Attraction, Seduction, Seduction with a CVT transmission and an AWD CVT Exclusive. Possibly the weakest link in this chain is the engine itself. With Citroen being one of the leaders in new engine technology, it’s quite a setback for them to use an old 2.0-litre for this first entry into the highly-competitive mid-sized SUV market.

The 2.0-litre is of course naturally aspirated and only puts out 113kW and 198Nm of torque, which is about the same as a modern 1.8 or a 1.4-litre turbo. The company has an array of excellent turbos, including the 1.6-litre shared with Peugeot and BMW. Why not use that? So the 5-speed manual uses a long gearshift for its purposes and goes on well in everyday situations. Even on roads not meant for normal cars, it gives back some good vibrations, sends messages of comfort and keeps going smoothly. The CVT on the other hand, is as CVT as they get. Screamy on takeoff and not very fuel-friendly, it nevertheless is the right solution for places like Jozi where traffic jams can occur as frequently as the public exposure of a corrupt politician.

If you are looking for value in terms of price versus features, this is probably the SUV to check out first. Standard features include bits like ABS braking, a front centre armrest, electric mirrors, front fogs, an onboard trip computer and four electric windows. For the larney among us (aka buyers of Exclusive models), certain goodies are standard, such as Bluetooth connectivity, Hill Start Assist, those LED daytime running lights, automatic rain sensors and rear parking sensors. The Bluetooth function is one of those cool ones that not only lets you hear calls through the car’s speakers, but it also plays music stored in your cell phone through the same speakers.

During our sojourn into the rural Moz side, we sampled different types of roads, including soft beach sand and some thick forest action where we got to change tyres as some of the hazards got the better of our road-biased tyres. And from the reaction of passers-by, this is a very good-looking motor car.

So while the C4 Aircross represents a breath of fresh air in its market, with good features, very good looks and some off-road capability in the AWD model, I just couldn’t shake off the “old” ASX feeling. And the engine didn’t add to its points tally either. It’s a car for people who probably choose looking good first over capability.

Citroen C4 Aircross Pricing
2.0 Attraction (R269 900)
2.0i Seduction (R294 900)
2.0i CVT Seduction (R309 900)
2.0i CVT 4x4 Exclusive (R369 900)

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