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Road Test: Citroën C5 Aircross

By / 2 weeks ago / Road Tests / No Comments

C5 Aircross might be late to the SUV party, but its comfort stands out, discovers Martyn Collins.

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SECTOR: Large SUV   PRICE: £23,225 – £32,725   FUEL: 47.1 – 64.1mpg   CO2: 108-121g/km

Remember the C-Crosser? Citroën would rather you didn’t, as it was a rather unloved, rebadged version of the Mitsubishi Outlander. Well, bad memories or not, are more likely to be at the forefront of buyer’s minds, with the launch of its replacement seven-years later –  the new C5 Aircross.

Outside, the C5 Aircross gets off to a good start, as it looks different and funkier in my opinion than many rivals on sale – utilising and refining many of the design cues first seen on the original 2014 C4 Cactus. This means at the front, the latest version of the twin light signature, with the driving lights at the top, the chrome tipped double chevron grille and most distinctive, the large lower air intakes – because they are available with different colour packs.

At the side, like the Cactus, there’s the subtle airbumps, also with different colour detailing, linking in with the chunky wheel arches. Plus, unsual heavy chrome detailing around the window line.
At the back, there are distinctive, high-set LED rear lights, with the smaller rear window linking into the rear quarter lights.

Inside, like the outside, the C5 Aircross is a development of styling cues already seen, with the central touchscreen infotainment sat at the top of the tall transmission tunnel with digital instruments right in front of the driver. Standard fit Advanced Comfort seats are well described, although lack a little support, but work well with the multi-adjustable driving position. The rear space is unremarkable, but the fitment of three separate seats is welcome and there are no headroom issues. With a practically-shaped 580-litre boot, plus all three rear seats can be folded individually.

Available in Feel, Flair and Flair Plus trim levels, all are well-equipped with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and the latest 8-inch HD touchscreen as standard, the C5 also features the clever ConnectedCAM system and Wireless Smartphone Charging. Also included, is a comprehensive safety suite, including 19 safety and driver assistance technologies, with Advanced Active Safety Brake, Active Lane Departure Warning and Active Blind Spot Monitoring, all standard equipment.

We drove what’s expected to be the top-selling engine for fleets, the 129bhp, 1.5-litre Blue HDi 130 diesel, this time matched with a six-speed manual gearbox, although there’s also the proven EAT8 automatic transmission too. Generally refined, it only gets noticeably noisy when worked, but despite its 10.4 second 0-60mph acceleration and relaxed nature, it’s still easy to make decent progress, with the reasonably precise six-speed manual. The 108-110 g/kg Co2 and 56.1-64.1 mpg figures mean the C5 Aircross should be affordable to run too.
On the road, like the Cactus, the C5 Aircross is fitted with Citroën’s clever Progessive Hydraulic Cushions. This equals what could be the most composed riding SUV in its sector. Bump absorption is particularly good, considering the standard 19-inch wheels that are part of the range-topping Flair-Plus trim level that I drove. The downside of the C5’s comfortable ride, is the body roll in corners, plus the lack of feeling from the steering – all this comfort seeming to come at the expense of any dynamism. Then again, the C5 Aircross is sold on its comfort and refinement, and is perfect for long drives. I’m also not convinced that £400 cost of the Grip Control off-road system is well spent?

Of more interest to fleet buyers and previewed at last year’s Paris Motor Show, is the forthcoming Hybrid model, that will launch later this year and go on sale in 2020.

THE LOWDOWN
Key Fleet Model: C5 Aircross BlueHDI 130 S&S
Strengths: Styling, comfort, practicality
Weaknesses: Comfort has come at the expense of dynamism

THE VERDICT
There’s lots to like about the new Citroën C5 Aircross  – it looks good, plus is impressively comfortable to drive and practical. In Blue HDi diesel form, it should prove affordable to run too.

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Martyn Collins

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