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Used test: Citroen C3 Aircross vs Ford Puma vs Hyundai Bayon interiors

Can the C3 Aircross and Bayon take on and beat our small SUV favourite, the fun-to-drive Ford Puma, when all contenders are two-year-old used buys?...

Citroen C3 Aircross 2021 dashboard


Driving position, visibility, build quality, practicality

Set the driver’s seat as low as it will go in all three cars and the Citroen C3 Aircross levitates you farthest from the road, something most potential buyers will consider a good thing. After all, if you like a low-slung driving position with your bum close to the Tarmac, you’re unlikely to be considering an SUV at all. You don’t sit quite as high in the Ford Puma, but you’re still aware you’re in something loftier than a conventional hatchback.

The same can’t really be said of the Hyundai Bayon, in which you don’t feel noticeably higher than you would in a Hyundai i20. But if you aren’t put off by this, the Bayon’s driving position isn’t bad at all. As in all three cars, there’s a good amount of seat and steering wheel adjustment and the pedals line up neatly with the steering wheel. Our only gripes are that taller drivers might find that the edge of the Bayon’s seat squab digs into their hamstrings and that there’s no adjustable lumbar support.

Ford Puma 2021 dashboard

You get adjustable lumbar support as standard on the Puma, something that helps your posture and can ward off back pain on longer journeys. The Puma’s seat holds you in place the most securely when going around corners, but the C3’s sit-up-and-beg driving position is most similar to that of a proper 4x4. Its soft seat bases initially feel comfortable, but you’ll wish for more support on longer jaunts and, as with the Bayon, lumbar support adjustment isn’t available.

Being a taller, squarer car with relatively upright windscreen pillars, the C3 Aircross is the easiest to see out of when you’re looking straight ahead or to the sides. Over-the-shoulder vision isn’t ideal (not helped by the decals on the rear three-quarter glass area on Shine Plus models), but you get parking sensors all round and a rear-view camera to help with reversing.

The Bayon also gets a rear camera and sensors at the back (but not the front) of the car to make up for its even more compromised over-the-shoulder visibility, while the Puma makes do with rear sensors alone. If you want a rear-view camera and front sensors, make sure the original owner paid £450 for the optional Parking Pack. The Puma’s aggressively angled windscreen pillars make it the hardest to see out of when approaching junctions, too – and it’s the only one without modern LED-powered headlights.

Hyundai Bayon 2021 dashboard

The 9.0in touchscreen on the C3 Aircross' Shine Plus trim would ideally be mounted higher on the dashboard and the screen could also be quicker to respond to presses – the operating system isn’t the most intuitive. The graphics on the Puma’s Sync 3 system look relatively basic and the 8.0in touchscreen isn’t super-sharp, but the menus are easy to navigate. The 10.3in screen in the Bayon proved frustratingly sluggish and prone to crashing. The touchscreen is ideally positioned on the dashboard, though, and the menus are user-friendly. All three cars get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.

There isn’t a great deal in it for interior quality, with none of our contenders offering a particularly plush or upmarket ambience. The grey fabric on the C3’s dashboard and its quirky air vents help lift things a little, plus it’s the only one available with leather seats (which were a £990 optional extra when new). There’s precious little in the way of soft-touch materials, though – something the Puma has more of, courtesy of squidgy sections on its dashboard and padded, faux-leather stitched panels on the insides of the doors.

That leaves the Bayon as the most disappointing inside, being little more alluring than the equivalent i20.

Citroen C3 Aircross 2021 boot

A word of warning: avoid the optional panoramic sunroof on the C3 Aircross and Puma if you plan to put tall people in the back. It lowers the ceiling to the point where most six-footers will need to cower. Without this feature, taller adults will fit well enough, although in the C3 Aircross they’ll have their knees close to (or even pressed against) the seat in front.

The Bayon edges the Puma for rear knee room, and not just against the tape measure; anyone tall will notice the difference. Our only grumble is that there isn’t much foot space under the seat in front when it’s all the way down. However, the Bayon’s and Puma’s rear seats are fixed in place, whereas the C3’s rear seats can be slid forwards in a 60/40 split to make the boot a bit bigger.

Ford Puma 2021 boot

That isn’t the C3’s only party piece, either, because its front passenger seat can be folded completely flat, allowing you to slot long items all the way through from the boot to the dashboard (assuming you also fold down the rear seatbacks). The other two have 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks for those occasions when you need to move some furniture or visit the tip, but how much can you fit in the boot with the rear seats up and the parcel shelf in place?

Well, the Bayon has the smallest load bay but can still swallow a respectable five carry-on suitcases with its standard height-adjustable floor set to its lowest position. The C3 Aircross has one of these clever floors too and can hold six cases. And the extra height of its boot compared with the others could come in handy if you need to carry a chunky buggy.

Hyundai Bayon 2021 boot

The Puma’s main load bay also holds six suitcases, but it has a trick up its sleeve. Lift up its boot floor and you’ll find a large well underneath that can swallow a further two cases. If you clip the boot floor vertically against the rear seatbacks, you can stand two sets of golf clubs upright in the well. There’s even a removable plug at the bottom, so you can hose out any mud afterwards.

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