Citroën C-Crosser Enterprise VTR+

Date: Monday, January 26, 2009

Not everybody looking for a light commercial with off-roading capability wants a dual range, high ground clearance 4x4 like Land Rover’s Defender or Iveco’s Massif. Many operators only spend 20 per cent of their time, if that, sloshing through the mud, so what they really require is a van that’s pleasant to drive on the public highway but won’t get stuck if they need to go up a slippery farm track.

 

They don’t need something that can tackle boulder-strewn terrain with ruts as deep as the Grand Canyon and near-vertical inclines because that’s not where they’re heading. What they’re after is a so-called ‘soft roader’ 4x4 that can carry a bit of cargo; tools and parts usually. That’s the market that Citroën is targeting with the C-Crosser Enterprise; a high-quality conversion executed by specialist Snoeks.

It represents a rare foray by the manufacturer into the all-wheel drive light commercial sector. Receiving its UK launch at last year’s British Commercial Vehicle Show, the van is based on the five-door C-Crosser car. That’s Citroën’s version of Mitsubishi’s Outlander and Peugeot’s 8007.

While Peugeot has yet to introduce a van variant of the 8007, Mitsubishi markets an Outlander commercial. However it uses a less-powerful engine than Citroën’s offering.

Technical

Flip open the Citroën’s bonnet and you’ll find a four-cylinder 2.2-litre 16-valve common rail HDi diesel engine pumping out 156hp at 4,000rpm. Peak torque of 380Nm kicks in at a healthily-low 1,500rpm, the engine is married to a six-speed manual gearbox and the van is fitted with a particulate trap.

To switch to four-wheel drive — it operates electronically and you can engage and disengage it at speeds of up to 60mph — you twist a knob between the front seats. When you’re in two-wheel drive it’s the front wheels that are doing the work. Turn to 4x4 Auto and torque is distributed automatically between the front and rear wheels, going to whichever have the most grip. The maximum permitted front/rear torque split is 70/30. Go to 4x4 Lock, however, and you lock the centre differential giving you a 50/50 front/rear split.

The front suspension employs MacPherson struts while independent trailing arms help support the vehicle’s rear. Anti-roll bars are installed front and back.

We opted for the VTR+ instead of the less-well-specified, but cheaper VTR. One consequence was that our van was fitted with 16in Itoka alloy wheels as standard shod with 215/70 R16 Michelin tyres.

You spend a long time searching for the spare wheel only to discover that there isn’t one. Instead you have to rely on a tyre inflation and sealing system that’s housed behind a panel in the load area, presumably to save on the additional weight of a proper spare. Fine if you collect a minor puncture, perhaps, but just pray that you don’t end up with a long, deep gash in the sidewall of one of your tyres. It’s then that such systems can prove useless.

Discs — ventilated at the front — are fitted all round and C-Crosser Enterprise comes with ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Electronic Stability Programme and Traction Control. Hydraulic power steering is fitted offering a 10.6m turning circle between kerbs and 3.2 turns lock-to-lock.

Grossing at 2,410kg, C-Crosser Enterprise can handle a gross payload of 743kg and it can tow a braked trailer with an all-up weight of 2,000kg.

Load Area

Access to the 2.3m 3 cargo area is by means of a hinged door on each side plus a horizontally-split tailgate. The lower section doubles as a ledge on which goods can be balanced prior to loading. While the load bay’s sides are opaque, the rear hatch is fitted with a heated window plus a wash/wipe system.

Six cargo tie-down rings are provided along with a full-height, glazed, plastic bulkhead that should provide the occupants of the cab with a bit of protection if an unsecured load slide forwards.

Good to see that the cargo box is well-protected against minor scratches and scrapes. The bed is graced by a fitted carpet — not such a good idea of course if you have to transport grubby items — while the sides and the wheel boxes are covered with a mixture of carpet and plastic mouldings.

Maximum load length is 1,720mm. Maximum width is 1,260mm, narrowing to 950mm between the wheel boxes, while maximum height is 1,035mm. Rear loading height is 600mm.

The rear door aperture is 1,092mm wide and 930mm high. Dimensions for the side door apertures are 749mm and 1,066mm respectively, and it’s worth noting that roof rails come as standard should you need to carry more than the cargo area will hold. They matched the colour of our demonstrator’s body as did the mirror housings and bumpers.

Cab Comfort

Boasting an exemplary driving position with plenty of lateral support provided by the height-adjustable seat — the steering column is height-adjustable too — C-Crosser Enterprise comes with climate control as standard.

An MP3-compatible RDS radio/CD player with remote controls on the steering wheel is standard too along with electric windows, electrically adjustable and heated exterior  mirrors, cruise control and driver and passenger airbags. The cab’s occupants are additionally protected by lateral and front curtain air-bags.

Oddment storage facilities include a lidded and lockable air-conditioned glovebox, a lidded bin on top of the facia and bins with mouldings that can accommodate a soft drink can in each of the cab doors. You’ll find a handy cubby-hole at the bottom of the dashboard and a roomy lidded bin between the seats that also plays host to a 12v power point.

You’ll spot another 12v power point just ahead of the gearstick and next to the removable ashtray. Look up and you’ll see a flip-down holder for your sunglasses just above the windscreen. Two cup-holders are located between the seats and a third one pops out to the right of the steering wheel.

On the Road

With plenty of torque in just the right places and sensibly-spaced gear ratios, the attractive-looking C-Crosser Enterprise is a pleasure to drive. That’s the case no matter whether you’re trundling around town, threading your way through the countryside, or making a high-speed intercity dash.

It handles well, with plenty of feedback through the steering and little if any body roll, and its suspension is more than capable of coping with virtually everything that Britain’s pock-marked roads can throw at it. Engine noise isn’t an issue. Neither is wind noise and we’ve no quarrels whatsoever with the vehicle’s build quality.

Take it off-road, however, and you’ll quickly discover its limitations; something we alluded to earlier. With no low-ratio gears and modest ground clearance, you cannot risk indulging in serious mud-plugging. If that’s your aim, then you’ve picked the wrong vehicle. Hacking up and down farm tracks and keeping you moving in snow and ice is well within the van’s capabilities however.

As far as fuel consumption is concerned we averaged 35mpg. CO2 emissions are cited as 191g/km.

Remote central locking with deadlocks is included in the deal along with an alarm. All the doors lock automatically when the van is in motion and re-lock after 30 seconds if it is stationary and has been left unlocked.

The vehicle is covered by a three year/100,000 mile warranty with no mileage limit in the first two years plus a six-year anti-perforation corrosion warranty. Service intervals are set at a generous 20,000 miles.

Our test van was equipped with front fog lights — invaluable at this time of year — and finished in metallic silver paint for an extra £365.22 excluding VAT.

Verdict

Citroën’s C-Crosser Enterprise is one of the most pleasant 4x4 vans to drive that you’re ever going to encounter. It offers plenty of performance, rides and handles well, noise isn’t an issue and it’s well-equipped into the bargain. You’d be more than happy to have one parked on your drive. It’s not the vehicle you want, however, if you’re proposing to tackle some really arduous off-roading. That’s beyond its capabilities. But if all you need to do is get up the odd farm track or two with a couple of boxes of tools and a few parts, then Citroën’s all-wheel drive offering could be the vehicle for you.

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