Citroen C5 Aircross

Citroen is back. In style. And then some

I can hear some of you grumbling already. But humour me; read on. See, Citroen has enjoyed a chequered history in South Africa — a truly charismatic and pioneering brand, it has come and gone a few times now and more recently, the skeptics’ poison tongues were wagging harder than ever. Rightly or wrongly, fans of the Double Chevron have become concerned in recent months — especially since the brand very much took a back seat to sibling Peugeot. 

Third renaissance
But that’s all changed — not only is Citroen back, but it is back in force as the brand enters its third renaissance in South Africa, now as a fully fledged subsidiary of its French PSA parent company and man, does Citroen have plans for big things. So set those concerns of poor back-up, a lack of parts and the rest aside for a moment and read this story through — I promise you, if you are a Citroen fan or just someone with a penchant for cars that are just a little more special than the rest, be sure to read on…

Citroen today unveiled its comeback range in a splendid trio of the C3, the C3 Aircross and its current flagship C5 Aircross - all three of them stunning brand new models I will tell you a little more about in a moment, but first read this: PSA has engaged South African motor market expert Xavier Gobille to take the brand forward. 

The man who basically put Renault back on the map in this country is not taking any prisoners and he puts the brand first - cleaning out the cubpord, cutting down the number of chefs in the kitchen hand sweeping so hard with that shiny new broom. “The first thing I did was get rid of 45% of our old dealers, who did not cut the mustard,” Gobille told Auto Bakkie Race’s Michele Lupini.

The Citroen customer is king
“You know it is just like racing, if you want to win, you must first get everything right and we are doing just that right now. “The cars we do not need to worry about, you know I am right after just a little time in them today, no? “But the job we have to do is to make sure that the Citroen customer is our king — we will now blow their socks off with service, backup and spares to make they will want to come back time and time again. “Everytihng about Citroen is new in South Africa.

“We have already addressed that parts issue and we apologise to Citroen owners affected in the past — we have already upped our parts basket to 97% of all parts required at any time and we have cut the number of cars stuck waiting for spares from over 500 down to about 90 and there will be none very soon. “In future, if there is a parts problem, the customer will get a courtesy car after one day and they will keep that car until they gets their own car back and running perfectly.

“Our dealers have committed to delivering best possible Citroen customer service across all facets of their business or it will affect their bottom line and we have also brought in several novel and most interesting peace of mind features to cosset and look after our Citroen customers.

Super warranty
“That starts with our brand new new full 5–Year 100 000km Warranty and Service plan and full Roadside Assistance across the range, something that not only brings new owners huge peace of mind and savings, but it also enhances resale values, because that back-up goes with the car to the new owner within that time or distance. “We also offer Roadside Assistance, a service to bring their new Citroen to the prospective customer, as well as complimentary vehicle health checks, licence renewal reminders and even service plan and warranty expiry notification.

“All Citroëns can now also be serviced at any Peugeot Accredited Dealership nationwide and we offer quick and easy optional Microdot identification and dedicated theft detection apps connected to the car, in the event of a Citroen being stolen, as well as Safety Film to prevent smash and grab. 

“So as you can see, we have left nothing to chance — you have my promise, Citroen is now being run right in South Africa now and as you know, the cars speak for themselves!"

C3 - Entry Sexy
Speak for themselves the new Citroens certainly did, starting with the brilliant and distinctive new C3. Typically Citroen chic, the sexy 5-door comes in three cool white, tan and grey launch colours with those side Airbumps and the option of a visual pack with a red roof, wing mirrors and trim. Step inside to find a splendid, surprisingly spacious and so stylish soft-touch cabin complete with full 7” Apple and Android-mirroring infotainment and many ingenious stowage solutions. 

Available in 60kW 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol PureTech in 5-speed manual and an 81kW turbo petrol version of the 1.2 PureTech with a 6 speed EAT autobox, C3 packs advanced driver assistance including lane departure, driver attention and coffee break alerts to offer style conscious lower end new car buyers a sexy, unique, personalised and connected option to set them well apart. 

Gentle on the road, with a distant yet loveable gruff three-pot thrum, this roomy and superbly specced baby is set to throw a Citroen cat among the entry-level pigeons.

C3 Aircross - Assertive 
Citroen promises its all-new C3 Aircross has an assertive personality. All we know is that it is set to cause a stir in one of the busiest little motoring niches on the road. Bigger, broader and more spacious than the hatchback, this people-minded compact SUV version of the C3 stars on versatility with robust and protective styling, raised ground clearance and a command driving position in the same colours as C3 for now, but its visual pack is more citrus than red

There's no compromise on comfort or function in a light-bathed cabin with class-leading space, broad, comfortable seats and exceptional boot volume. The 60-40 split rear sear not only folds flat, but in Shine model, the chairs also shift fore and aft independently. Powered by the lusty 81kW 1.2 PureTech turbo petrol and 6-speed autobox, C3 Aircross gets 16” alloys or 17-inch diamond-cut wheels and adds rear parking sensors and hill start assist to the C3 hatch driver assistance spec.

Boasting typically Citroen ‘magic carpet ride' (cue French accent), C3 Aircross stars on space and much as it does on sexy, but it’s still perky and frisky on the road to deliver a most impressive chic for money bargain, never mind a price to really and truly blew those socks off...

C5 - Aircross Flagship Fantastique!
Last but not least, the flagship Citroen Aircross is set to cause a flutter in the SUV midfield. Clearly taking a styling punt at the Hun, this Frenchman is makes for almost seamless step sideways to many an existing executive model owner faced with a tighter budget in these horrible fiscal climes. 

The big one shares many of the smaller models’ launch traits, but adds much more as part of the deal. Progressive Hydraulic Cushion damper suspension, advanced comfort seats and advanced soundproofing take that magique carpet ride next level, while C5 Aircross adds active lane departure and blind spot monitoring to the already abundant top C3 Aircross driver assistance spec, as well as keyless entry and starting, an electric park brake and a 180° rear camera.  

And while C3 Aircross has a 60-40 folding and sliding rear bench, this big brother has three individual sliding, folding and reclining rear seats and best-in-class boot space. Starting at 520 litres and expanding all the way to to 720 litres with the three rear pews shifted furthest forward — never mind a cavernous 1,630 litres of space to play with the chairs laid flat. Talk about maximum practicality.

Tech rich too, C5 Aircross gets splendid 12.3-inch digital instrumentation and 8-inch infotaiment touchscreen with Apple and Android and even wireless charging on Shine models, while an efficient and high-performance 121kW 240Nm 1.6-litre turbo petrol 4-pot and the EAT6 autobox.

All in all, the new Citroen range certainly does sell itself and with Monsieur Xavier behind the company wheel, we reckon the rest of what you rely on when making a decision as significant as buying that next new car just as irresistible. Vive la revolution! - Michele Lupini

Citroen Range Launch Pricing
Feel 1.2 PureTech 60kW Manual — R239K
Shine 1.2 PureTech 81kW Turbo Auto — R289K
C5 Aircross
Feel 1.2 PureTech 81kW Turbo Auto — R339K
Shine 1.2 PureTech 81kW Turbo  Auto — R359K
C5 Aircross
Feel 1.6 THP 121kW Turbo Auto — R469K 
Shine 1.6 THP 121kW Turbo Auto — R509K