By: Sam Bisby
Compact crossovers are taking the market by storm, as more and more manufacturers recognise the importance and demand of having a such a practical yet manoeuvrable model in their line-ups.
Into this fast-expanding sector enter a quartet of new-comers to rival the likes of the Nissan Juke and Vauxhall Crossland. Competitors from Citroen, Hyundai, Kia and SEAT are all vying for attention and have emerged at similar times.
As such, we felt it necessary just to highlight what makes these new compact crossovers worthy of your attention.
Based on the C3 supermini, the C3 AIRCROSS SUV continues with its city car sibling’s modern, quirky styling and adds a does of rugged flair. Its predecessor, the C3 Picasso, took the form of an MPV, but the demand for cars offering more style and brawn has seen Citroen alter its approach, much like its compatriots Peugeot with the 3008/5008 models.
In its design, the C3 AIRCROSS SUV takes notable cues from the C-Aircross Concept first shown a the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, as well taking influence from the C4 Cactus. The C3 AIRCROSS SUV’s large front end gives the impression of a much bigger car, while its chunky bumpers and scuff plates let you know that this isn’t your standard run-of-the-mill compact crossover.
A choice of three petrol units and two diesel engines are on offer, the most powerful of the former serving up a useful 128bhp and the latter a 118bhp option. Inside the C3 AIRCROSS SUV you’ll find a similar arrangement to the regular C3, as well as comparable equipment, including Park Assist to make light work of manoeuvres and a seven-inch touchscreen for all your infotainment needs.
However, practicality is something which certainly separates the two cars, with the AIRCROSS having a rear bench able to slide back and forth and, with the rear seats down, offers a total boot capacity of 1,289 litres.
The South Korean manufacturer has taken somewhat of a gamble with the Kona, producing a car which perhaps doesn’t match the safer styling of other cars in the Hyundai range. However, a result of this is a truly distinctive and bold compact crossover to really make its mark in this competitive segment.
In a similar way to the Citroen, the Kona has a two-tier lighting arrangement, with a thin strip of LED daytime-running lights above a bigger cluster which features lighting for night driving. Meanwhile, a large hexagonal grille and a horizontal vent above it allows the Kona to more than stand out. Additional styling such as the standard roof bars give the Kona a real feeling that it’s not just at home on the school run.
Technology featured on the Hyundai includes standard safety equipment such as Driver Attention Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Hill Start Assist and Downhill Brake Control. Additional features include cruise control and a speed limiter function, while a DAB radio and a five-inch LCD centre console display can feature in the Kona’s grown-up cabin. A head-up display, meanwhile, makes an appearance for the first time on a Hyundai. In regards to practicality, the Kona offers on the S trim a 361-litre boot with the seats up, expanding to 1,143 litres when folded down.
At launch, a selection of two petrol engines will be available, with a 1.6-litre CRDi diesel joining the range later down the line. The most powerful of the petrol units offers a very handy 175bhp through a seven-speed DCT dual-clutch automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. To make for a more engaging drive, the Kona uses a complex multilink suspension set-up at the rear and also utilises a system labelled Advanced Traction Cornering Control to help improve traction and damping in the bends.
In the wake of the new Rio comes Kia’s attempt at the compact crossover - the Stonic. With its compatriot and partner Hyundai going bold with the Kona, Kia knew it had to go a bit further to help the Stonic stand out, and has done so by creating its most customisable car to date.
Although a much more conventional design to the Kona, the Stonic’s handsome styling and Rio-inspired features have been placed upon a bigger platform, offering that mini SUV experience. Kia is offering five different variants of the Stonic, with two trim levels and a choice of three engines. A 1.4 and a 1.0 turbo make up the petrol options, while a 108bhp 1.6-litre diesel is the most economical of these, offering up to 67.3mpg.
Technology available on the Stonic include the likes of Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management and hill-start assist, all of which are standard across the range. Meanwhile, optional equipment such as Autonomous Emergency Braking and the Lane Departure Warning System can be optioned for on the ‘2’ trim, but are standard on the ‘First Edition’, as is Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
In the Stonic’s cabin you’ll find a seven-inch display which provides a DAB radio in ‘2’ trim levels, while the ‘First Edition’ gets a seven-inch touchscreen that allows for navigation and infotainment services. you’ll be glad to know that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the range. On the practicality front, the boot in standard form offer 352-litres of capacity, but 1,155 litres with the rear seats folded.
The Spanish manufacturer is perhaps one of the most active firms on the SUV front, having recently launched the Ateca and doubles its SUV offering with the Arona, with more to follow. Based on the same platform as the Ibiza, the Arona is a bit bigger than its supermini sibling at 4,138mm long - 79mm more stretched than the now five-door-only hatchback.
The Arona is noticeably larger than its peers featured above, and is evident when looking at the rear of the car and its 400-litre boot with rear seats up. Meanwhile, you’ll find a height-adjustable floor as standard on every Arona, helping reduce the lip at the boot entrance and gets rid of any step in the floor when the rear seats are folded down.
The Arona’s choice of engines are virtually identical to the Ibiza offering, with a selection of three petrol units and a single diesel engine available at launch. The most powerful of the petrol options, a 1.5, serves up a hearty 148bhp and features cylinder deactivation to help improve on economy. The 1.6-litre diesel can be had with 98bhp or 115bhp.
Like the Stonic, SEAT has ensure customisation plays a big part in the Arona’s appeal and the Spanish firm claims a total of 68 combinations to be had for the car’s lower and upper body. Anyone familiar with the latest Ibiza will find the Arona’s cabin familiar, with an eight-inch touchscreen display the centre-piece of the car’s interior. Available safety equipment includes Multi-Collision braking, Blind Spot Detection and Rear Traffic Alert.
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