SUVs of all shapes and sizes seem to be casting a spell over the car world as we know it, with the bewitching mini SUV fast becoming the new city car.
The large range of mini SUVs on the market can enchant you with their charming looks and surprise you with their deceptively spacious interior. On the outside, they‘re just small enough to magically squeeze into any parking spot in the city, yet big enough for the whole family, their gadgets and your weekly shopping. In fact, if Doctor Who was looking for a replacement for her TARDIS, the mini SUV would be it!
Among the many mini SUVs, four stand apart as the most captivating and capable - the Citroën C3 Aircross, the Fiat 500X, the Renault Captur and the Ford EcoSport. If you’re in the market for one of these, you might be interested to see how they compare:
As well as all that city car practicality, mini SUVs offer more - more interior space, better loading, higher ground clearance and easier accessibility.
Like Mary Poppins’ handbag, despite their compact size, our chosen models are equipped with numerous aids and features to help make everyday driving safe and enjoyable, without having to resort to any jiggery pokery.
A clever little spell (sliding rear seats) allows the seats-up boot space of the Citroën C3 Aircross to increase from 410 to 520 litres, while an impressive 1,289 litres of total boot space is available with rear seats folded.
The Advanced Comfort® programme provides large seating, appropriate suspension and soundproofing to make every journey magical, with features like lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and emergency brake assist adding a helping hand.
A maximum of 1,000 litres in total of luggage space (350 litres with seats up) gives the Fiat 500X the dinkiest capacity of our four. But it still has plenty of other features to wow you.
Lane assist, traffic sign recognition and intelligent speed assist all come as standard, as does cruise control and Apple/android connectivity. However, you’ll have to look in the direction of the Cross Look to get help from the mystical parking sensors.
With a similar sliding seat party trick, the Renault Captur can expand its normal boot capacity from 377 to 455 litres, increasing to 1,235 litres with all rear seats folded.
You won’t need your wand to direct this little beauty as the keycard allows hands-free entry and push button start. The wizardry doesn’t stop there - hands-free parking and rearview camera and sensors mean perfect parking every time!
Another mini SUV with enough room to hide a magician’s assistant, the Ford EcoSport has 1,238 litres of boot space on offer, reduced to a slightly more snug 356 litres with the rear seats in use.
No one will be able to pull the wool over your eyes with the EcoSport’s Blind Spot Information System and other helpful features such as Ford SYNC infotainment system (including emergency assistance) and Quickclear heated windscreen.
Since all four cars have very similar equipment, we’re awarding the title of the most practical on the basis of boot space. Congratulations go to the Citroën C3 Aircross!
Unless you’ve found the mythical pot of gold at the end of the more often than not, costs are a deciding factor when buying a car.
Let’s steer clear of fantasy and look at the cold hard numbers when it comes to buying and running our fab four mini SUVs.
Bought new, the Citroën C3 Aircross starts at £14,700 for the base model. The better equipped Feel or lifestyle-oriented Rip Curl special edition can cost in the region of £18,000 and slightly over £20,000 for the fully loaded Flair trim.
The most efficient engine is the BlueHDi 100 with 6-speed manual transmission and an astounding 70.6 mpg* in combined fuel consumption. All models sit firmly under Group 20 for insurance with the Touch and some Flair variations as low as Group 6.
For a brand new Fiat 500X, you’ll be looking at between £16,995 for the Urban Look and £18,995 for the Cross Look versions. Optional extras will, of course, cost you more.
The Cross Look has a choice of engines - 1.0-litre or 1.3-litre petrol - with the FireFly Turbo 1.0 120hp Cross Look being the most efficient motor at 48.7 mpg* in combined driving. You’ll find insurance for most variations in Group 10-16, although you’ll be easily impressed by the 1.3 Pop which falls low as Group 5.
The Renault Captur will also amaze and delight with the Play variant starting as low as £15,300. The cost of the best equipped GT Line might surprise you at just £18,300.
Available in the mid-range Iconic and costliest GT Line trim, the dCi 90 Auto EDC MY18 is the most economical engine at 67.6 mpg* (combined). No matter which spec you choose, you’ll find insurance no higher than Group 15.
Starting at £17,545 for the Zetec model, the Ford EcoSport is the least costly of our line up and you could fork out as much as £20,595 for the ST-Line. It has other talents, however, returning up to 67.3 mpg* (combined) with the 1.5 EcoBlue 100PS diesel engine.
Insurance starts at a credible Group 8 and works its way up to an easy-to-swallow Group 17 for the Titanium or ST-Line trim.
With the lowest starting price, and the most efficient engine, the Citroën C3 Aircross is a tough act to beat. Although it misses a trick by having the most expensive insurance of the group, some models still fall into the lower insurance categories.
Manoeuvring around the city streets sometimes needs a little wizardry with narrow lanes, poor visibility, and parking spaces quickly doing a disappearing act.
The mini SUV is well-armed to cope with these challenges, but which one does it best?
The dimensions of the the Citroën C3 Aircross - 4.15m in length and 1.75m in width - and turning circle of 11m are comparable with the rest of our programme. The five driving modes, including Sand, All-Road, Snow or ESP OFF make it suited to most terrains.
A 17cm ground clearance and 4x4 option means you can also take it on an off-road vanishing trick.
At 4.24m long and 1.79m wide, the Fiat 500X is our chunkiest performer. The turning radius is still a decent 11m, which will keep all the fans happy when space is at a premium.
Ground clearance is 16cm in both Cross Look and Urban Look with 4x4 as an option, and a driving mode selector adds weight to the steering whenever needed.
With some SUVs measuring over 5m long and nearly 2m wide, the Renault Captur manages an amazing shrinking act at just 4.12m in length and 1.77m in width. It’s got a very handy turning circle of 10.4m - perfect for manoeuvring in car parks and narrow streets.
The Captur has the same 17cm ground clearance as the Aircross and a 4x4 option means some light off-roading is possible without the need for any hocus pocus.
Conjuring up a length of just 4.09m, the Ford EcoSport is the shortest of the four. Its width of 1.76m allows a tidy 10.6m turning circle.
Interestingly enough the EcoSport has either 16cm or 19cm of ground clearance, depending on whether you’re choosing the diesel or petrol version, and intelligent All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system varies road grip when the conditions require.
When it comes to handling and the ability to twist and turn through the town, the Ford EcoSport is a clear winner with the shortest overall length and a decent turning circle, ably assisted by intelligent AWD. Having the biggest ground clearance makes it the most capable light off-roader of the four, as well as the most likely to impress.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we often can’t explain what attracts us to a car, style-wise. Let’s see what these four mini SUVs have to mesmerise us with as they compete for the best looking title.
Citroën has had a long tradition of producing whimsical, outlandish cars with distinctive styling, and the C3 Aircross is no exception. Its boxy silhouette is softened by curved edges and amiable front fascia adds to its flamboyant routine.
The car boasts up to 85 different colour combinations for a more personalised experience. The interior follows the same geometric rules as the exterior and benefits from the natural light of anretractable panoramic glass roof. Open sesame!
As a part of the 500 family, the 500X has all the same retro styling in a more contemporary 4-door mini SUV body, complete with chrome inserts. Much like magician David Blaine has put a new twist on Harry Houdini’s escapology acts, the 500X takes the Italian car into the 21st century.
As with the rest of the range, the 500X is bursting with character on both the inside and outside with two distinctive designs, Urban Look and Cross Look, for town-based or more adventurous magicians… err… we mean drivers.
The Captur is fluid in appearance, with a sportier, more defined shape. One of the main features of the Captur is its contrasting roof, which adds to its individuality and athletic design. As with all our other mini SUVs, you’re able to add a little pizzazz with a range of alloy wheel upgrades.
The interior, however, has no distinct features - a good thing if you’re easily distracted and open to suggestion. The most exciting option here is the part leather upholstery which is standard on the GT-line.
The most conservative of our bunch, and also the most aggressive looking of the four, the Ford EcoSport looks a lot like a Fiesta that has been hitting the gym. One for those who prefer the quiet life, it’ll help you disappear into the background.
Of course options such as a sunroof, HID Xenon headlights and alloy wheel upgrades will always help get you noticed if you really want to play the memory game. On the whole, it’s perfectly suited to the city or the country, whatever the audience.