This is the star niche of the moment! Urban crossovers provide the bulk of sales growth in Europe. Citroën has replaced the C3 Picasso by the C3 Aircross, Seat advances an Arona with attractive dynamic pretensions, while the Renault Captur is still a favorite. Which one to choose?
We could have also included the Peugeot 2008, elbow to elbow with the Captur. But the novelty, the C3 Aircross appeared last year will be the representative of the PSA group in this match that led us to Israel, Tel Aviv in the middle of the Negev desert, through Judea - Samaria. A rather unusual setting for a Turbo! Let's face it, our three pseudo-fighters have not really been put to the test of off-road traps. That's hardly what they're asked to do, even if a brief all-day getaway was not finally a mere formality. By the way, only the C3 Aircross, with its protective shoes and prominent wheel arches, vaguely cultivates an adventurous spirit. It is also the only one to offer something to improve motor skills in all-road conditions: the Grip Control is charged € 300 (a kind of improved traction control, as found on the 2008 for reminder).
The other two are less likely to be Sunday explorers. The Captur remains conventional, the discrete restyling of the spring of 2017 having not fundamentally changed its look... nor its success, on the side of sales figures. The Arona, him, takes again the rather sporting drawing of the Ibiza, all in edges and lines cut with the billhook. As the trend goes, all three compete in combination of hues and customization options.
Life on board
In front of the very classic Seat Arona which takes up an environment almost identical to the cockpit of the Seat Ibiza (a bit austere despite inserts of color), Citroën offers the opposite on board the C3 Aircross: it's fun, original and does not look like anything known on the market. Except the C3, which we find here some effects of style. Round ventilators, suspended screen, and saddlery as pleasing to the eye (tweed fabric) as comfortable... but devoid of lateral support! Too bad, it will be the only really noticeable quack of the nice little Citroën crossover, which plays the adventurous spirit even in its position of conduct a little special.
|Citroën C3 Aircross dashboard|
|Renault Captur dashboard|
|Seat Arona dashboard|
His two rivals are quite conventional, in terms of both driving position and layout. Captur and Arona inherit the qualities and defects of the city-dwellers from which they derive. Namely, an interesting modularity, embellished with multiple storage on the Renault side. On the other hand, basic and fragile plastics and slow R-Link interface show a few more years of design than the Arona. The rear space is also slightly less generous than on board its two rivals. Especially the C3 Aircross, the most welcoming of the lot and more finished than the Captur. Some details and plastics unfortunately are poor bill.
Spanish also does not shine by its materials, almost exclusively composed of rigid plastics, but the assemblies are rather treated. And difficult to compete, in terms of simplicity, with the multimedia Seat and its big screen of 8 inches. Question storage and tips by cons, the Arona is content with basic amenities.
Like the space on board, the Seat displays one of the largest chests in the segment: 400 l minimum is better than the Captur (377 to 455 l), and only slightly less than the C3 Aircross (410 to 520 l). However, the Captur benefits from a sliding bench: this figure is measured backrest retracted to the maximum, thus freeing up a wider leg space. We can not have everything. On the Citroën side, we manage to reconcile the two, on our Shine version at least: interesting modularity (sliding and splittable bench, height adjustable boot floor, optional folding front right backrest for € 290) and living space. In the end, the sense of welcome and the counter-current presentation of the C3 Aircross tilt the balance side rafters in terms of life on board.
On the road
Difficult to reach the excellent compromise comfort / dynamism and the precision of the touch of road of a Peugeot 2008, undoubtedly the best of the niche in terms of road benefits. But the Arona approaches it, with its lively chassis and very well kept. Opposite, the Captur shines rather by its smooth walk and its progressivity. Not so precise, at the level of commands and especially the direction, but far from being unpleasant. The bias is different, that's all.
Citroen C3 Aircross
The first contact is more unusual at the wheel of the C3 Aircross. The driving position surprises, a little high pitched, with the foot pedal implanted low. A little utilitarian, it's curious! We get used to it. After a few kilometers, we take advantage of a suspension flexibility and interesting balance, better held than the Captur which has a tendency to crash on its supports. However, the damping a little firm at low speed seems strangely calibrated given the quiet and comfortable vocation of the C3 Aircross. Less drought would be welcome.
Placidity of setting also, side engines. At Citroën, the 110-hp 1.2-liter Puretech three-cylinder engine is only strong enough to be able to play frequently with the long-range gearbox... and whose movements are just as good. Even with the city C3, the Aircross deserves some extra horses despite a rather generous couple: 205 Nm at 1,500 rpm, like the Captur but 500 laps earlier. Opting for the version of 130 hp is probably a good idea (€ 1,000 surcharge), although the performance here is nothing ridiculous in road use (0 to 100 km / h in 10.2 s).
Opposite, the smallest 1.0 TSI of the Arona is not much more powerful (115 hp) but delivers a better approvaland above all, benefits from better insulation (in sound as in vibrations at low speeds). Slightly stronger than the PSA 3 cylinders in recovery, too... but here too, a lack of going low revs is felt (200 Nm to 2,000 rpm). Small weakness which the 1.2 l TCe, unique 4 cylinders of this comparative, does not suffer. Not especially more powerful despite its superior power (120 hp), it is also more linear and less speedy to rev up, but its operation is more discreet and felted. It accelerates and raises just weaker than the Arona (9.9 on the 0 to 100, 1 tenth more), small disadvantage that the Captur owes its weight slightly higher.
This is not always the case, but the smallest engines here are the least greedy: announced at 5 l / 100 km in mixed cycle, the TSI Seat is satisfied with about 7 l in real conditions. Similar score for Puretech C3 Aircross... while Captur requires about 1.5 l / 100 more. Add to this the more precise behavior and pleasant liveliness of the German-Spanish 3-cylinder, and the Arona stands out as the best companion of the trio. Driving, victory Seat.
Captur, a bit of a wise five year career, still excels in compromise... In small urban crossovers, we expect now a little more spice. Citroën and Seat lend themselves to the game, but not really the same way. Sense of hospitality and spirit fighter assumed side Citroën, neat dynamism and techno content for the Seat Arona... we place both tied. Advantage to the youth!