The three-cylinder turbo petrol motor of our test subject is a fairly willing, flexible and likeable engine, though it isn’t about to be lavished with glittering praise for its strength, economy or civility here.
A claimed 0-62mph time of 11.3sec is roughly matched by what we recorded on a chilly test day on track, although it doesn’t make this car one of the more sprightly options among its peers. In 1.0 TSI 95PS guise, the Arona is a second quicker still; so even by the standards of an unelectrifying segment, the C3 Aircross isn’t a gutsy performer.
Tuned to 109bhp, this thrummy 1.2 isn’t a lost cause, however. It’s quiet enough on a part throttle and develops 151lb ft from only 1500rpm, so once up and running will sustain momentum with reasonable ease. Relatively short gearing helps mitigate the slightly soft throttle response the engine has exhibited in other applications, and so there’s decent drivability to tap into here too.
Just remember that overtaking isn’t something to be done on a whim, and that you’ll need to work the slightly rubbery, long throw of the five-speed manual gearlever with patience and deliberate timing in order not to be frustrated by it. When you’re working the engine hard and rushing the changes through, it’s all too easy to fumble a shift. In light of this, we would avoid at all costs the entry-level 82bhp version of this engine, which forgoes turbocharging and frankly isn’t fit for purpose in a car designed to accommodate several passengers and their luggage and be worked a bit harder than the average supermini.