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Hyundai Kona, Citroen A3 Aircross and Toyota C-HR Join the B-Segment Bandwagon

AFP Relaxnews

Updated: June 14, 2017, 5:40 PM IST
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Hyundai Kona, Citroen A3 Aircross and Toyota C-HR Join the B-Segment Bandwagon
The Citroen C3 Aircross. (Photo: AFP Relaxnews)
New compact crossovers from Citroen, Hyundai and Toyota are looking to capitalise on record demand for B-segment SUVs on both sides of the Atlantic.

For the past five years, those looking for something with rugged good looks but sufficient nimbleness to negotiate urban thoroughfares only had a handful of stand-out models to choose from: the Nissan Juke, Buick Encore (Opel Mokka in Europe) or the Jeep Renegade. But as the popularity of the B-Segment crossovers continues to swell, the number of carmakers offering something is finally keeping pace with demand.

Following its European roll-out, the Toyota C-HR arrives this week in the US complete with a huge advertising push. Marketed as a huge departure for the brand, in terms of styling, features and positioning, the C-HR has been built from the ground up to really stand out from the crowd, and from other Toyotas. Like the Nissan Juke, its looks may polarise but the company should be commended for creating a car that isn't simply a miniaturised Rav 4 or Rogue. Instead, Toyota has looked to sports coupées for inspiration.

Also trying to inject a little bit of fun and eccentricity into the segment is the Citroen C3 Aircross. Officially unveiled on Tuesday, it's big on character and cabin space – it comes with up to 90 external colour combination choices and offers a 2.4m load space with the front passenger seat folded flat – even though the car itself only measures 4.15m from nose to tail. Like all of the best French automotive designs, the new Citroen manages to remain gender neutral, finding that right blend of elegance and aggression. It's also packed with 12 driver assistance and connectivity tech features. However, which ones will come as standard, which will be options and which will be unavailable will depend on the country in which it's being sold.

The Hyundai Kona takes a different route to the market than Citroen. Unlike the C3 Aircross, the Kona won't be confined to Europe and Asia when it goes on sale. Described as a truly global B-segment car, the Kona is designed to meet a worldwide aesthetic. So, while its exterior lines may seem bold for Hyundai (in terms of its current design language), they're bang-on-trend in terms of the larger market – extenuated wheel arches, a high waistline, and a proud, angular nose with a strong front grille.

But the interior is where the design team has been at its most innovative. The suspension and drivetrain set-up have been selected so that they won't impede on the underfloor and that has enabled the company to pack the car full of clever storage spaces and areas including a dual-level trunk. All of which should make it equally appealing for those taking the kids to school and those taking a weekend break off the beaten track.
First Published: June 14, 2017, 5:40 PM IST
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