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C5 is a breath of fresh air

motoring car citroen C5

ROBUST: Oversize trim details suit the bold look of the new C5 Aircross (Image: Getty Images)

Big and small, SUVs have tempted many buyers out of traditional hatchbacks, estate cars and even people carriers. Which makes Citroen’s new offering in the mid-size SUV market an important one and this C5 Aircross shares design cues with the rest of its rejuvenated range, majoring on comfort and refinement. The slim headlights, wide grille and oversize trim details that form the basis of Citroen’s new corporate identity are all present here. And this design appears to work better on larger models. 

The overall look is one of sensible proportions and a design that flatters the car’s size and height.

Citroen’s “Airbumps” – quirky door trims originally devised to help protect against car park dings – are here too, although they’ve been downgraded to decorative status.

Overall though, the C5 Aircross is destined to be a bold sight in the supermarket car park or outside the local school.

It’s going up against the Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008, the Seat Ateca and Skoda Kodiaq, to name a few of the choices available in the burgeoning mid-size SUV market.

motoring car citroen C5

ACE OF SPACE: The focus is on equipment levels and occupant comfort (Image: Getty Images)

And while Nissan enjoys buoyant sales, Citroen is intent on making the C5 Aircross experience that bit more special, through its focus on occupant comfort, generous equipment levels and keeping sales volumes at a modest full year level of around 9,000.

There’s a lot of under-the-skin commonality between this Aircross and the Peugeot 3008.

Power comes from a handful of petrol and diesel motors, accompanied by a six-speed manual or new eightspeed automatic gearbox.

The 1.2-litre entry level petrol engine’s 128bhp might work for light duties but the 1.6-litre 178bhp petrol may prove a better all-rounder, capable of 0 to 60mph in 8.2 seconds and with a 136mph top speed.

If a diesel is the one for you, the lead-in 1.6-litre 128bhp engine promises the lowest emissions of the range (106g/km) and can be had with either gearbox.

For maximum performance and towing potential there’s a 2.0-litre diesel option with 178bhp mated exclusively to the automatic.

Anyone seeking a hybrid will have to wait until next year when Citroen is expected to launch a plug-in version.

Tested in both petrol and diesel high-power guises, the C5 Aircross successfully delivers on Citroen’s promise of comfort and refinement.

motoring car citroen C5

The overall experience is one that majors on being smooth, refined and comfortable (Image: Getty Images)

Key to this is the inclusion of its trick new suspension technology, which helps the car’s conventional components deliver a softer, more compliant ride.

The technology largely works too, and is good at ironing out most of a bad road’s imperfections. Big potholes might still jar, but the overriding feeling is that the rough edges have been rounded off.

Factor in comfort-oriented seats boasting good levels of support and it’s clear the C5 Aircross is built for making relaxed progress – if you want a sporty driving experience, look elsewhere.

This is no bad thing, as there’s rarely any benefit from throwing around a large, tall-ish car like the C5 Aircross. Just sit back and relax. 

Wafting along is something this SUV does well, which is good as the neither of the flagship engines feel particularly powerful in the real world compared to their on-paper numbers.

“Good enough” would be an accurate appraisal.

The solid performance from that new eight-speed gearbox means that any fuss over outright performance deficiencies can be categorised as nit-picking.

The overall experience is one that majors on being smooth, refined and comfortable.

motoring car citroen C5

The C5 Aircross is built for making relaxed progress (Image: Getty Images)

Citroen has also delivered on the cabin. Few models could get away with brown seats but this does.

Other colour choices exist, but this 1970s throwback should get approval from Citroen fans of old.

The driver is well catered for with a large digital, customisable main display, with an equally large infotainment touchscreen containing most of the car’s functions.

Both work well but the latter can be improved if you connect a compatible smartphone and use their respective interfaces.

What can’t be faulted is the cabin’s space and versatility.

It will accommodate five adults (just) in comfort, thanks in part to three independent folding and sliding rear seats, which allow you to prioritise rear legroom or boot space.

The boot’s flat floor, low loading lip and wide-opening tailgate make light work of tricky loads.

With the rear seats up and positioned for maximum legroom, boot space is a decent 580 litres, rising to 1,630 with them folded.

Occupants are also well served in terms of equipment.

 motoring car citroen C5

Tested in both petrol and diesel high-power guises, the C5 Aircross successfully delivers (Image: Getty Images)

It would be easier to list what isn’t available as Citroen’s kitchen sink approach is a conscious move to stand out in its sector and reinforce its policy of enhanced comfort and refinement.

With prices starting from £23,225, UK buyers are offered three trim levels – Feel, Flair and Flair Plus.

Aside from the usual infotainment, navigation and electric power for seats and mirrors, the top grade cars also gain a panoramic glass roof and a wireless charging pad for mobile phones.

Overall though, Citroen’s focus is on safety, with a raft of passive and active systems such as collision warning, active braking, lane departure warning all standard.

Smart headlights capable of deciding where to direct the light and a traffic sign reader are trim-level dependent, as is a forward-facing camera that can be used as a dashcam.

Citroen’s advanced Grip Control electronic stability and traction control system can also be added to automatic gearbox-equipped cars.

Citroen’s first proper entry in the mid-size SUV market is a good one.

It probably won’t appeal to people seeking a sporty experience to rival the family hatch they’re upgrading from, but if your priorities are refinement and comfort, the C5 Aircross has them in spades, as well as plenty of style.

It looks good, and Citroen hasn’t skimped on creature comforts either.

It’s a well-developed, practical addition to the market, providing a rounded ownership experience that stays true to Citroen’s brand values.

motoring car citroen C5

C5 Aircross shares design cues with the rest of its rejuvenated range, majoring on comfort (Image: Getty Images)


Model: Citroen C5 Aircross

On sale: now

Price range: £23,225 – £32,725

Engine range: Petrol – 1.2, 1.6-litre turbo; Turbo-diesel – 1.5-litre, 2.0-litre turbo

Power: 0 to 60mph in 8.2 seconds, 136mph top speed (1.6)

Average fuel economy: 59.0mpg (2.0TD)

CO2 emissions: 106-129g/km

Rivals: Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008, Seat Ateca

Rating: 8/10

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