Part Two – Crossovers
Citroen C4 Cactus
Citroen’s new C4 Cactus is designed to fill the void left by the retired C4 Cactus but in a more SUV like way. Gone is the eye catching styling and in place a more muted crossover. And those distinctive Air bumps are now concealed at the bottom of the door but they remain a mark of distinction and a talking point. Inside it is deceptively big and there is adequate room throughout and a surprisingly big boot that can swallow 358 litres. New also is Citroen’s Advanced Comfort Programme, this new suspension means the car ride comfortably over all surfaces and while the drive experience is not notable there is little to complain about. There’s a good selection of engines, ranging from a three-cylinder 1.2-litre PureTech unit to the frugal diesel engines in the range – a 1.6-BlueHDi -with 110hp or 120. The 1.2-litre turbo petrol version, which emits as low as 104g/km of C02 makes a lot of sense though it does make a bit of a racket on the road. Not as quirky as it once was the C4 Cactus will still make you smile, it might even make you happier.
Prices start from €19,995
Bigger than the Nissan Juke but smaller than the Qashqai Honda’s HR-V coupe like styling will undoubtedly turn heads, while touches such as the hidden rear door handles beautifully enhance the look. Step inside and you find the HR-V is brimming with understated style. It is also loaded up with much of the technology drivers have come to expect, including a seven-inch Honda Connect touchscreen that gives fast and easy access to internet-based services including web browsing, real-time traffic, news and weather, social media and internet music stations. It is fitted as standard on grades above entry level. Clever details increase the usable space inside, including the fuel tank, which is in the centre of the vehicle beneath the front seats, allowing for a flat floor and greater legroom for rear-seat passengers. In addition, the versatile ‘magic seats’ offer the ability to carry long, tall, or wide items in numerous configurations and it has one of largest boot in its class, with 453-litre capacity and 1,026 litres with the rear seats folded away. There is a choice of two engines: a 130 bhp 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol or a 120 bhp 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel. Average fuel economy is impressive and the petrol model returns 5.6 litres per 100 or 50.4 mpg with CO2 emissions of 130g/km, so it’s €270 a year to tax. On the road, it is not the most exciting to drive but the use of space inside is clever and it is well equipped, stylish with excellent practicality, making the Honda HR-V a crossover worth considering.
Prices start from €23,995
Chic, sleek, sophisticated, the E-Pace certainly has an edge over rivals. Inside, it is well thought out, modern and comfortable, with nods to the F-Type throughout. It is also awash with charging points and USB connections as well as a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices. Every E-Pace also features the latest generation of Jaguar’s Touch Pro infotainment system. Natural voice control technology, a 10-inch touch-screen interface and a customisable home screen make interactions with the system quick, simple and intuitive. The boot is a spacious 577 litres, but despite its size the car never feels particularly roomy inside and space in the back is far from generous. On the road, the bodywork is heavier than you’d expect, the result is a reassuring sturdiness but the downside is a weighty car that feels cumbersome when compared with the larger F-Pace. If you decide to buy one, there are numerous decisions to make; petrol or diesel, manual or automatic, FWD or AWD and four trim levels, Plenty of people want an engaging and premium SUV that will garner admiring glances in a supermarket car park and for those the E-Pace is a price many will find worth paying.
Prices start from €36,000
Based on the Mazda 2, the CX-3 combines rugged looks and a high-riding driving position but doesn’t sacrifice any of the small car’s sharp handling and general nippiness either. Featuring Mazda’s signature look, the CX-3 is a good-looking car and could easily be mistaken for a CX-5 from a distance. Four trim levels are available: SE, Executive, Executive SE and GT. The range-topping GT adds 18″ diamond-cut alloy wheels and a Bose surround-sound system. Inside it is nicely finished and a 7″ touchscreen and cruise control are standard but the stylish exterior means a compromise with space, so it’s a little cramped and visibility is not great. The CX-3 is available as a 2-litre petrol SkyActiv-G (120ps) in front wheel drive and 1.5-litre diesel SkyActiv-D (105ps) in both front and four-wheel drive versions. On the road its really fun to drive and will make you want to slalom down empty back roads. Safety features are good and the CX-3 was awarded four out of five stars by Euro NCAP. With very smart styling and driving dynamics that outclass many rivals, Mazda has packed a lot into such a small package.
Prices start from €20,995
Looming in the mirrors of the Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 and Opel Mokka, SEAT’s Arona is designed for those looking for style and functionality. Despite being based on its supermini sister, the Ibiza, the Arona is taller, longer and wider so better able to compete as a family-sized crossover.
Outside there is much to admire and while there is no AWD version, the bumpers, wheel arches, extra ground clearance and roof rack all hint at more than just the urban jungle. Inside, the dashboard is all very familiar and is easy to use, but it lacks the styling flair of the exterior. The swathe of plastic across the dashboard is dull and charmless, but overall it all feels of reasonable quality. There are three petrol engines to choose from, a three-cylinder, 95 PS 1.0 TSI, which is linked to a five-speed manual gearbox. Also available is a more powerful 115 PS version and a new four-cylinder, 150 PS TSI mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. A diesel 1.6 TDI will be available with 95 and 115 PS but pick of the engine range is the 1.0-litre TSI. The Arona compact SUV, hits just the right note with sporty styling, keen pricing and good driving dynamics.
30th May, 2018