CITROEN'S relentless product renewal plan continues apace with the imminent arrival of the new C3 Aircross compact SUV.

Unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show the new C3 Aircross ploughs a unique furrow in a market sector populated with identikit soft roaders.

The Aircross is a compact (4.15m long) SUV hoping to carve out a niche for itself in a class full of good cars.

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Of course, it has all the attributes you'd expect of a mid-size SUV including raised ground clearance, a high-set driving position, front and rear skid plates, large wheels and wheel arch extensions.

But the body styling adopts a more friendly approach to SUV design, which makes the Aircross a welcome break from the tiresomely aggressive models which currently dominate the compact crossover class.

At the front, the Aircross features Citroën's two-tier light signature. The lights at the top are the LED daytime running lights, which link to the chevrons via a double chrome strip to enhance the perceived width of the car. The lower units are for the headlights and come complete with coloured surrounds. There is also space to house the fog lamps. A large air intake in the centre strikes a powerful note. Lower down, a protective skid plate looks good but don't be fooled - this ain't no Land Rover.

It does, however, feature Citroen's Grip Control technology which uses the traction control to make the most of the grip available from the front tyres in tricky conditions. There's also Hill Descent Assist which prevents the C3 from sliding down very steep and slippery inclines. The latter can function at very low speeds – as low as 2mph – for added control and safety during what can otherwise be a very stressful manoeuvre.

In addition, it is available with a complete range of driver assistance systems, such as the Colour Head-up Display, Active Safety Brake, Intelligent Beam Headlights and Speed Sign Recognition and Recommendation, as well as useful technologies including Park Assist and Citroën Connect Nav.

Naturally, Citroen offers a full range of engine choices including petrol PureTech models (130/110bhp) and a brace of clean diesels with 100 or 120bhp beneath the bonnet.

The cabin is home to broad and comfortable seats, and offers class-leading space (headroom and legroom), split/sliding rear seats, a fold-flat front passenger seat (for a load length of up to 2.40m) and exceptional boot volume (410-litres, which can increase to 520-litres). The back seats slide a full 150mm and, when the front seat is folded down, the maximum load length is extended to 2.60m.

The cabin is flooded with natural light, thanks to the large opening panoramic glass sunroof.

Citroen says its new baby has the largest boot in the segment. Access is aided by a large tailgate and a low loading sill. The boot's standard volume of 410-litres can be increased to 520-litres with the rear bench in the fully forward position. Total load volume with the rear seats folded down flat is an impressive 1,289-litres. Strong on everyday practicality, the C3 Aircross also features a removable luggage shelf that can be stored in a vertical position behind the rear bench when transporting taller objects. As a further ingenious touch, the dual height boot floor provides the option of a flat floor with the rear seats folded.

Inside  a 7-inch touchscreen acts as the control centre for the vehicle. For example, it incorporates the air conditioning, radio, telephone and Sat Nav controls.

To help customers stay better connected and to improve their driving experience, the Aircross has the full range of high technology.

There's Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink to connect a smartphone allowing drivers to safely enjoy the music and podcasts on their smartphones by replicating and controlling them via the 7-inch touchscreen

Citroën's Connect sat nav solution features connected 3D navigation with voice recognition.

This new-generation navigation system comes with connected services such as TomTom Traffic, for real-time traffic information, service station and car park localisation and prices, weather information, and a local point-of-interest search function. There is even an accident blackspot warning function

Finally, the Citroën Connect Box links you through to a specialised assistance centre in the event of a breakdown or accident.

After the new C5 Aircross, a larger SUV unveiled in Shanghai earlier this year, Citroen has gone full tilt for a family of soft-roaders. When it goes on sale, before the end of 2017, the new C3 Aircross will offer drivers something different - and that could be just the ticket in an increasing homogenous class.