27.1.2020Citroen C5 Aircross review
If you're a mass-market manufacturer without a family-sized SUV, you may as well be dead in the water. It's such an important market for car makers, and Citroen hopes the C5 Aircross fits the bill. It's a bit of a departure for a company that prides itself on doing things differently, but first impressions are that Citroen has brought it's distinctive style and ethos to the family-SUV market.
Review by Chris Lilly
Citroen C5 Aircross buyers aren't blessed with lots of choice when it comes to powertrains, but the key bases are certainly covered. Drivers can pick from a petrol or diesel unit, with both producing 130 hp, or a 180 hp diesel. Six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions are on offer with the lower powered engine and automatic gearbox likely to prove a popular pick. There's no stand-out option, with the 130 hp engines covering most drivers' needs, unless you're regularly towing or driving with a fully loaded car. Fuel choice depends on driving requirements, with lots of shorter trips better matched to petrol power, and many longer distance runs suiting diesel. Either 130 hp engine will perform well depending on the circumstances, and both PureTech petrols and BlueHDi diesels are pretty refined, economical, and offer usable levels of performance.
Those looking at a Citroen C5 Aircross to compete with the sportier SUVs on the market may as well head on their way now. This Citroen ain't for you. Now we're clear on that, the C5 Aircross is one of the most comfortable cars in its (and many other's) class. Citroen has long had a reputation for fine handling machines, and the C5 Aircross continues that theme. It's got Progressive Hydraulic Cushions, which are basically little bits of magic carpet situated on each wheel. It's not a perfect system, with very harsh surfaces still being transferred into the cabin, but there isn't a better car in this market in terms of comfort. There is a fair amount of lean in the corners as you would expect for such an apologetically comfortable car, bt it's kept pretty well in check. Grip is good, and the steering well weighted if lacking feedback. Essentially, the Citroen C5 Aircross is an excellent car for a relaxing drive.
Citroen's designs currently stand out nicely from the crowd, with distinctive details, but nothing that is going to put potential buyers off too much. The C5 Aircross is very much in the same camp, with the SUV stylish but not outlandish. It's something that translates to the interior, with some nice details around the place, but everything essentially standard across the board. There are a lot of capacious cubby holes about the cabin, which starts a theme really. There is a huge amount of space inside for occupants and kit, with the boot particularly cavernous. It all makes for a very practical car.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
If you think the suspension is doing all the comfort-biased heavy lifting, think again. Helping the mechanical elements out are a set of seats inside that are plush, welcoming, and the comfiest set of pews this side of a Volvo or Lexus. The front seats in particular are wide and soft, but with enough support to make sure long trips are covered in comfort. The rear seats are narrower, but you do get three individual units, and they will fit both adults and kids seats easily enough. Driver's controls are primarily covered by the central touchscreen system, which is middle-of-the-road when compared to rivals. It's not top quality, is a little laggy, and the graphics aren't the glitziest - though they are sharp at least. However, it does a good job, and there will be few complaints from users. The driver's digital instrument binnacle on the other hand is excellent, and customisable depending on mood or situation.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The diesel options are the champions in terms of fuel economy - that is until the plug-in hybrid version comes along. The 130 hp BlueHDi diesel will comfortably return mid-50s fuel figures, while the petrols are around 10 MPG behind, but better suited to shorter stints than the diesels. None are going to give you stunningly low running costs, but all do a good job at offering frugal motoring for a car the size of the C5 Aircross. The forthcoming C5 Aircross Hybrid will trump all existing options in terms of efficiency when it arrives, thanks to the ability to cover short distances on electric only.
Again, the green champion will be the C5 Aircross Hybrid PHEV, but until that becomes available, the lower powered diesel with an automatic gearbox returns the lowest CO2 emissions. Both PureTech and BlueHDi engines have won numerous awards for efficiency in the past, and Citroen is one of the best mainstream manufacturers in terms of real-world emissions.
There are three core trims to pick from - Feel, Flair, and Flair Plus. Entry-level Feel provides elements such as 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights and wipers, parking sensors front and rear, and 8-inch touchscreen unit with DAB, Bluetooth, USB, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. Moving up to Flair adds voice controls, Citroen Connect Nav, reversing camera, and keyless entry and start. Top spec Flair Plus features 19-inch alloys, comprehensive safety kit, adaptive cruise control, handsfree powered tailgate, and electric driver's seat.
The Citroen C5 Aircross is an excellent family-SUV. It's spacious, practical, and comfortable. It's not going to appeal to all buyers, particularly those wanting a more exciting driving experience. However, many drivers will appreciate the focus on comfort, and the C5 Aircross will win over a great many buyers.
Model tested: Citroen C5 Aircross
Body-style: Family SUV
Engine / CO2: 130 hp PureTech petrol, 130 hp BlueHDi diesel, or 180 hp BlueHDi diesel / 137 - 165 g/km
On-road price: from £25,185
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars