Citroen offers an SUV in NZ for the first time

DAVE MOORE
Last updated 12:32 21/06/2012
Citroen Aircross
Fairfax NZ

CITROEN AIRCROSS: Clever design detailing around the car's nose and rear pillars disguises its Mitsubishi derivations well.

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The new Citroen C4 Aircross, like the Peugeot, does not include a diesel variant, just a series of two and four-wheel-driven, 2.0-litre petrol offerings.

That the car is here at all is a nice surprise. Citroen didn't bother to import its other Mitsubishi-based soft-roader, the up to seven-seater C-crosser, which, like the Peugeot 4007 (which did reach these shores two years ago), was based on the Japanese company's Outlander model.

Citroen's importer, Ateco, will launch the light SUV in New Zealand in July, when it will become the final offering in Citroen's lineup of 4-series models, joining the Citroen C4, Citroen C4 Picasso and Citroen DS4 models.

"Although these four models sit in the same size category, they are four distinct models in their own right," Citroen New Zealand general manager Lawrie Malatios says.

"By providing them with their own platforms and differing drivetrains, Citroen has allowed them not to be variants of one model and to carry the restrictions in their abilities that this would cause, but to be much more capable vehicles designed to meet the specific needs in each of their own market sectors and offer Citroen customers a wider range of choice."

The basic C4 is a traditional five-door hatch, the seven-seat C4 Picasso on its own separate platform is a full seven-seater people mover, and the DS4 is a stylish prestige coupe/hatchback with a unique chassis.

It has to be said that Ateco could have done well to bring in the shorter-wheelbase, five-seater version of the C4 Picasso too - an immensely capable car without the prospect of having two empty seats most of the time.

As with the Peugeot 4008, the C4 Aircross is powered by Mitsubishi's 2.0-litre, 110-kilowatt engine, and will be available with a choice of two or four-wheel-drive and a CVT self-shifting gearbox, although, unlike the 4008, a manual option is being offered. That suggests the Citroen might even undercut the CVT-only Peugeot's $37,990 starting price.

Pricing has not yet been revealed.

The four-wheel-drive variant offers a choice of two-wheel-drive for economy, four-wheel-drive for difficult going, and 4WD Lock for semi-serious off-road conditions. These settings can be chosen by way of a twist selector on the car's centre console.

With the previous Outlander- based C-Crosser and 4007, the Citroen seemed to have been at the front of the queue when the front and styling were handed out, but in this case, the jury is out as to whether the Citroen or Peugeot is better looking.

The styling of the C4 AirCross certainly draws upon the brand's DNA, with the twin-chromed bars and the Citroen double chevron in the centre looking like a startled electrocardiograph.

Citroen says the car's sculpted horizontal lines and aerodynamic vents at the front are meant to accentuate the model's compact appearance, with the contours of the bonnet, the wide wheel arches and the reduced front and rear overhangs combining to enhance an impression of robustness.

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A comprehensive equipment list and pricing will be announced at the car's launch next month. Fairfax NZ

- © Fairfax NZ News

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