Body design of the C3 Aircross is SUV style, but the interior is MPV inspired for space and comfort

Body design of the C3 Aircross is SUV style, but the interior is MPV inspired for space and comfort

Groupe PSA's Citroen brand is aiming to boost its annual volume by a third by 2020, led by a product offensive in the B- and C-Segments and a focus on the European and Chinese markets.

Citroen sold 1.2m vehicles worldwide in 2016, but wants to sell 1.6m a year by 2020. This year it says it's best-selling car is the C3 hatchback, which is already over 200,000 units sold since launch at the turn of the year.

Citroen is now launching the C3 Aircross in Europe. C3 Aircross is a compact SUV crossover that was developed in Europe in partnership with Opel/Vauxhall (it is made at Opel/Vauxhall's Zaragoza plant on the PF1 platform alongside the Opel/Vauxhall Crossland X).

The Opel engineering team in Rüsselsheim led the engineering execution of the joint project. PSA Peugeot Citroen supplies powertrains for all applications.

The C3 Aircross replaces the C3 Picasso and shifting output from the Trnava plant freed up the Slovak plant for the latest Citroen C3.

Although Citroen describes C3 Aircross as an SUV, drive is to the front wheels only.

Citroen is dovetailing launches for its compact SUVs in its core regional markets - Europe and China. The plan is to launch C3 Aircross in Europe this year and in China in 2018. The C-Segment SUV C5 Aircross is launching in China this year (it is made in China), but comes to Europe in 2018 (when production in France is also planned to start).

Citroen executives told just-auto at the UK market launch event for C3 Aircross that design and comfort are key brand attributes and differentiators for the Citroen brand. In replacing the compact MPV C3 Picasso with C3 Aircross, the decision was made to go down the SUV or crossover path, but to get the 'best of both worlds' with SUV attractiveness in terms of design and performance, but with interior space and functionality of an MPV. The car is designed to appeal to B-Segment buyers looking for MPV inspired space, functionality and comfort, but in a compact SUV design.

Citroen says the unique body styling of C3 Aircross is representative of the current Citroen range, along with all the attributes of a robust and protective SUV – raised ground clearance, an elevated driving position, front and rear skid plates, large wheels and wheel arch extensions. The body styling also features touches of colour on the roof bars and the 'Venetian Blind' rear quarter-lights.

Citroen stresses the large number of personalisation options; there are 85 exterior colour combinations, including three roof colours for two-tone models and four 'Colour Packs', plus five interior design schemes.

On the comfort front, Citroen claims C3 Aircross is the most spacious and modular SUV in the compact segment. There is a large opening panoramic glass sunroof to emphasise space and natural light. It is also available with a complete range of driver assistance systems, such as the Colour Head-up Display, Active Safety Brake, Automatic High Beam Assist and Speed Limit Recognition and Recommendation, as well as useful technologies including Park Assist and Citroen Connect Nav.

Prices in the UK start at GBP13,995.