What is it?
Contrary to what the name might suggest, the C-Crosser's not a boat, but Citroen's new SUV.
Imagine you’re a greengrocer. You sell a good selection of home-grown fruit and vegetables: apples, strawberries, cauliflower, cabbage. But there’s a sudden rush on bananas. What do you do: attempt to grow them yourself? Not in Blighty. No, what you do is buy a few in and flog ’em as your own.
That sums up Citroën’s approach to SUV-making. Having recognised the current 176,000-cars-a-year boom for 4x4s, parent PSA has gone in with Mitsubishi to develop the Outlander soft-roader for Europe.
It has taken that car, given it styling to suit the brand’s avant-garde image and chassis tuning to suit European roads. The result is the C-Crosser (with Peugeot’s 4007 still to come).
What's it like?
The C-Crosser is equipped only with PSA’s 2.2-litre HDI engine, which pulls strongly, revs quietly and smoothly, and still returns 40mpg.
By buying into an established SUV recipe, Citroen has also given the C-Crosser many of the virtues of the longer-standing members of the class. It’s got lockable four-wheel drive, five roomy seats, two extra folding seats behind those for the kids, a proper tailgate, a flat boot floor and nearly 1700 litres of cargo space.
It even drives well. Although the ride isn’t quite as hushed or pliant as that of a Freelander, the steering’s accurate and has nice weight, and the body’s tautly controlled. Wind and road noise, the quality of the cabin materials, the notchy gearchange and the lack of reach adjustment on the steering wheel could all be improved upon, but they’re secondary criticisms.
What isn’t is the lack of originality this car represents. For the car maker that gave us front-wheel drive, hydropneumatic suspension and disc brakes before any other, that could be a problem; its customers may expect something more innovative.
Should I buy one?
Maybe, but a diesel Toyota RAV4, Chevrolet Captiva – even a Land Rover Freelander – will cost you less. With those caveats, though, Citroën has actually hit the nail pretty squarely, first time out – albeit with a little help from a friend.