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Dashboard, infotainment, sat-nav and passenger space

With the exception of one or two fundamental shortcomings, which we’ll come to in a moment, there’s rather a lot to like inside the C3 Aircross. Broad, two-tone seats with a flash of red and resolutely old-school dials lend the cabin a distant similarity with that of an 1980s hot hatch.

Those seats place you higher than in many of this segment’s contenders (to the extent that taller passengers might rue the presence of the optional panoramic roof) and give you a decent view of dashboard, although the 7in touchscreen that comes with mid-ranking Feel spec and above does sit fractionally too low beneath the eyeline for our liking.

The interior isn’t far from being a major selling point. Fun to be in, less so to touch – invest that little bit more in it, Citroën

At this level, it includes DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and, most importantly, Mirror Screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to hook up your smartphone. Citroën Connect satnav doesn’t get included until you reach the top-of-the-range Flair model, which commands a premium of about £1800 over Feel derivatives.

The touchscreen is not complicated to use, but it’s not particularly responsive or graphically advanced, certainly when compared with the technology offered in Volkswagen Group products. The ‘buttons’ on the touchscreen for accessing various functions don’t provide haptic feedback either, which means they can be slightly tricky to use while on the move. It’s by no means a bad system, but there are better ones out there.

It’s a quirky driving environment, and although our test subject’s more eccentric touches were limited to lipstick-red details on the squircle-themed air vents and elsewhere, you can specify the car with matching bright colours running across the curved edge of the dash and around the steering wheel and gearstick surround. There are silver accents here and there too. Overall, the C3 Aircross is able to be interesting and ergonomically sound.

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However, this Citroën’s ace card is that it is formidably capacious given its small footprint. With the back seats up there’s 410 litres of boot space, which grows to 520 litres if you slide the bench forward (it’s worth paying for this option) or 1289 litres with it folded flat. Those figures put it right at the top of its class – they’re greater than you’ll find in a Volkswagen Golf, even – and touches such as a false boot floor for easy loading and a front passenger seat that folds down completely flat advance its cause even further.

Our main criticisms relate to the quality of the C3 Aircross’s larger mouldings – they’re shiny and scratchy, something Citroën might have got away with were it not for the fact that rivals such as the Seat Arona have so ably demonstrated that cars in this segment don’t have to feel cheap. We also saw, as we have in tests of other PSA Group cars of late, the migration of a few too many controls for the car’s secondary systems onto the touchscreen for the sake of easy usability. The car’s climate control should certainly have physical controls to enable quick adjustment.