It’s not very often that MG Rover can be credited with being first into a new niche but, lo and behold, just months after the Rover Streetwise was born, not one but two of Europe’s big players are jumping into the ‘urban on-roader’ market.
The VW Polo Trek is just weeks away, and Citroën’s effort at an ‘active lifestyle’ supermini has already landed, in the shape of the C3 XTR.
It might just be a butch, black-bumpered version of the C3, but the French company has high hopes for its new model, despite the XTR not even benefiting from a raised ride height like its Rover rival. On the Continent, a version will be available with raised suspension, a limited-slip diff and sump guards, but in the UK the modifications are purely cosmetic.
The ride is composed over rougher roads, and the variable-assistance power steering is pleasantly light around town, but doesn’t weight up enough at higher speeds. The 92bhp 1.4-litre HDi suits the XTR well (a 1.4 petrol is also available) and returns combined fuel economy of almost 66mpg.
The standard panoramic sunroof, a £500 option on the rest of the C3 range, floods the cabin with light. The roof bars can be switched from lengthways to widthways for carrying surfboards, snowboards and mountain bikes – an obvious essential as these cars are bought to compliment an active lifestyle, according to the marketing campaign. The interior gets XTR-specific two-tone trim and rubber floormats – also vital for those muddy mountain bikers and wet surfers.
Citroën is pitching its XTR, including standard £500 sunroof, at just £700 above the similarly equipped C3 HDi. So it’s moneywise, if not necessarily streetwise.