Brazilian Aircross has full-length roof rails starting at windscreen base, exterior spare wheel

Brazilian Aircross has full-length roof rails starting at windscreen base, exterior spare wheel

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There is no question the Brazilian consumer likes normal cars dressed up to suggest off-road ability. There is no logical explanation other than Fiat's decision to launch the Palio Weekend Adventure back in 1999, prompting rivals to follow suit ever since.

Citroën simply decided to launch its new C3 compact monovolume with the pseudo adventurers' version named Aircross.

The 'standard' C3 Picasso scheduled for next year, without the special add-ons, will therefore have inverted the conventional launch strategy.

The French brand is yet to estimate the mix between the two versions after production stablises in 2011 but it has forecast 24,000 Aircrosses yearly.

Local CEO Ivan Segal believes the Aircross and C3 Picasso together can take the brand’s market share in 2011 to 3.3% from the current 2.3%.

But global CEO Frédéric Banzet, here for the media launch, has said that keeping up with market growth with so many competitors will be a tough mission.

“We cannot put profitability aside. In 2020 I forecast  we will manage 4% with automobiles and light commercials together”, he told just-auto.

The first Aircross deliveries start on 20 September priced from R$54,000 (US$31,000) to R$62,000 ($35,000).

Top versions have GPS navigation with a seven-inch screen and this is optional on other models for R$2,400 ($1,400).

The model follows the now established pseudo-SUV recipe and Citroën has included full length roof rails that begin at the base of the windscreen.

The exterior spare wheel is on the left of the tailgate compared with the central location used on the rival Fiat Idea Adventure and VW Crossfox.

The compass and two inclinometers are no novelty in this class but the steering wheel with a flattened base assures cabin differentiation.

The wraparound, three-section windshield in fact improves visibility. The glass is acoustic like in the new Fiesta. Steering is hydraulically assisted – assistance is electrical in the C3 hatch – but remains light and variably-assisted. To cope with the 2,083 lb (1,400kg) kerb weight the highest priced version, the differential ratio has been raised 15%.