In Review

Best small SUVs on sale in 2019: Mazda CX-3, Citroen C3 Aircross and more

There's plenty to choose from in one of motoring's most competitive sectors

Some of the best-selling cars on the forecourts today are crossovers. They’re a booming market sector and most major manufacturers now have a small SUV in their line-up.

The crossover’s appeal is simple. It offers rugged SUV looks, practicality and a raised driving position. It’s also inexpensive to run and easy to drive, too.

What makes them such simple cars to drive is that many are based on family hatchbacks. The majority of small SUVs even have the same engines and cabin tech as their hatchback siblings.

As many of them are front-wheel drive, it’s best to stick to tarmac roads and avoid rougher terrain. Some models come with all-wheel drive systems, but a proper 4x4 would be a better choice if you plan to venture off-road.

Here are some of the best crossovers on sale this year: 

Citroen C3 Aircross

Nobody mixes quirky design with high practicality quite like Citroen. The new C3 Aircross is no exception. 

The French carmaker has prioritised comfort over style in the C3 Aircross’s cabin, says Top Gear. This means the company has moved away from conventional interior styling in favour of comfortable seats that look like sofas and fabrics “that resemble home furniture.”

The car is also comfortable on the road. The crossover’s “loping ride makes easy work of urban potholes and the seat comfort adds to the sense of relaxation”, says TG.  

At £14,625, the C3 Aircross is one of the cheapest routes to crossover ownership.

Dacia Duster

Dacia is best known for its £6,180 Sandero hatchback. The cheapest hatchback in Britain has been the butt of many jokes on Top Gear

The firm’s Duster crossover [pictured top] is also inexpensive. In fact it’s the only SUV on sale with a four-figure price tag.  

Priced at £9,995, the entry-level car is a very bare machine. There are no paint colour options – only gloss white is available – and there’s no option for plush alloy wheels. The bumpers, meanwhile, are only available in black plastic and there isn’t even a radio in the cabin.  

Splash out on the £11,695 Essential model, however, and you’ll get a host of creature comforts such as body-coloured bumpers and a DAB radio as standard. 

Although the car is rather basic compared to its rivals, the Duster is “phenomenal value”, says Autocar.

Mazda CX-3

Mazda may be late to the compact crossover party, but that doesn’t mean you should write the CX-3 off from your shopping list, says Top Gear

The CX-3 is essentially a “jacked-up” version of the “terrific” Mazda 2 supermini, boasting a steering system with “pleasing weightiness” and a design that is unlikely to polarise opinion, which cannot be said for its rivals – the Nissan Juke and “Ford’s dog-awful Ecosport”, the website says. 

Auto Express agrees. It notes that the driving position in the CX-3 is relatively low, so “it should be easy for any driver or front passenger to find a suitable seating position”. The 350-litre boot is “bang on” for the crossover class, too. 

It’s also “very attractively priced” at £19,000, the magazine says. Buyers get sat-nav, Bluetooth and DAB radio included as standard, while the average fuel economy of 42.87mpg offered on lower-powered petrol models should mean fewer trips to the pumps.

Nissan Qashqai

The current generation Nissan Qashqai is now approaching its sixth year of being on sale. While it’s no longer the new kid on the block, a comprehensive update in 2017 gave the crossover a new lease of life.

Aside from a few tweaks to the car’s exterior design, the revamped Qashqai comes with a new steering wheel design and “upgraded dashboard materials”, says WhatCar?. The company’s Pro Pilot semi-autonomous system, which prevents users from straying into other lanes while on the motorway, is also available. 

As an extra bonus, the company added support for the smartphone connectivity systems Apple CarPlay and Android Auto at the end of last year. 

Prices for entry-level Visia models kick off at £19,995.

Renault Kadjar 

Buyers keen on the Nissan Qashqai but looking for a car with a sleeker design might want to take a look at the Renault Kadjar. The two cars share the same production platform and the Kadjar’s £19,690 price tag is almost identical to that of the Qashqai.  

Despite having the same underpinnings, the Kadjar is marginally larger than the Qashqai and the Renault’s 472 litre boot is bigger than the Nissan’s 430 litres.

The Kadjar’s impressive practicality and “more upmarket” cabin give it a slight edge over its Japanese rival, says Auto Express

Volkswagen Tiguan

Providing the underpinnings of the critically acclaimed Seat Ateca, the Volkswagen Tiguan has received its fair share of praise from reviewers, with CarBuyer saying it “matches the Nissan Qashqai’s usefulness” with a more upmarket appeal.

The new model builds on the strengths of its predecessor by being more comfortable, with interior quality that is “easily on par with the Audi Q3”, adds the site. 

What Car? says the Tiguan’s handling is closer to a hatchback than a family crossover, offering a sense of agility that surpasses the likes of the Kia Sportage and is “genuinely enjoyable to drive.”

It also has a huge boot compared to most of its rivals, with its “large tailgate and opening" making it easy to load luggage, the website says. 

With prices starting from around £22,625 for the entry-level S model, the Tiguan is a more expensive than the Seat Ateca. However, Autocar says, it is “more fuel efficient than expected” and averages around 50mpg.

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