Behind the wheel
Driving position, visibility, build quality
Since you’re in the market for an SUV, there’s a decent chance that you like to sit a good distance from the road. If so, you’ll find plenty to like about the C3 Aircross because, with its driver’s seat set to its lowest position, you’re still a fair few centimetres farther from terra firma than you are in the Arona or Stonic.
But, removing personal preference from the equation, all three have fundamentally sound driving positions, with plenty of seat adjustment and pedals that line up reasonably neatly with the steering wheel. Some of our testers wished the Arona’s steering wheel retracted a bit farther into the dashboard, while others found the C3 Aircross’s gearlever a bit of a reach, but neither issue is a major one.
Long-distance comfort isn’t ideal in the three cars, though. That’s because their driver’s seats simply don’t provide enough lower back support, although the C3 Aircross is worst in this respect. Adjustable lumbar support would help but isn’t available on any of our contenders, even if you’re prepared to pay extra.
Chunky, clearly labelled buttons and knobs make the dashboards of both the Arona and Stonic a doddle to use. If you’re a bit chilly and want to nudge up the interior temperature, you simply twist a dial. In the C3 Aircross, you need to delve into the hopelessly unintuitive touchscreen; it’s such a faff that it would be quicker to stop off and buy a jumper.
They may all look suitably frisky on the outside, but climbing aboard the Arona or Stonic is a bit of a comedown; both interiors are conservatively styled and built with hard, grey and not very appealing plastics. But the face of the Arona’s dash is at least painted a pastel grey to lighten the mood.
There’s more to get excited about inside the C3 Aircross. From the art deco air vents to the silver accents below the touchscreen, everything is just that bit more interesting to look at. You can even choose from various colour schemes if you’re prepared to pay extra, including a two-tone tan and black dashboard and seats, or grey seats with red highlights on the dash. Just bear in mind that the quality of interior plastics aren’t actually any better than those in the Arona.
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