Citroen’s all-new flagship model fits perfectly into the bustling SUV market. It’s called the C5 Aircross and blends great styling, a wealth of technology, bundles of space and fabulous driving dynamics into one competitively priced package. Also available with Plug-in hybrid technology.
The goodStyle, practicality, technology and running costs
The badSo much opposition to compete against
Citroen C5 Aircross Shine Plus Plug-in Hybrid (2021)
CITROEN has just strengthened the appeal of its stylish, dynamic and practical C5 Aircross SUV thanks to the introduction of plug-in hybrid technology that brings up to 34 miles of pure electric driving.
The newest addition to the line-up is powered by a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine that works in tandem with an 81kW electric motor fed by a 13.2kWh battery.
Producing a combined 225bhp, 500Nm of torque and mated to a perfectly timed eight-speed automatic transmission, the vehicle can reach 62mph from a standstill in 8.7 seconds and maxes out at 140mph.
But the figures that will catch the eye of anyone who clocks up city centre mileage, particularly those travelling through congestion charge areas, are the 32-41g/km of carbon emissions (zero g/km when driving in EV-only mode) and a combined 157.2-223.3mpg, under stricter WLTP testing.
Clearly these fuel economy figures could only ever be realistically achieved if the car was run in electric-only mode for the majority of the time.
Our five-door C5 Aircross test car, in high-end Flair Plus trim, cost £35,835, increasing to £36,805 with options. There’s no denying it is an attractive looking vehicle with modern design cues and a wealth of top notch technology to explore.
Styling features include a bold upright stance, tinted rear windows, a black roof that contrasts nicely with the white bodywork, roof bars, subtle but distinctive Airbumps, twin exhaust effect trim, 19-inch two-tone alloys, LED headlights with LED daytime running lights and a blue shading on the front bumper and on an Airbump insert.
Step inside and the cabin boasts a clutter-free layout but is ultra-modern with an array of on-board techno treats. The driver’s seat is powered so finding a comfortable driving position is a quick and simple process and all the dials, controls and readouts are perfectly positioned for ease of use on the fly. There is a soft touch matt dashboard with neat grey inserts that looks very upmarket and white mood lighting that can be dimmed.
Techno treats are plentiful and include full smartphone connectivity via Mirror Screen which links both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice recognition for the radio, navigation and phone, an eight-inch touchscreen, wireless phone charging pad, a DAB radio, dual zone air conditioning and a 12.3-inch information display behind the steering wheel that can be fully customised.
And when it comes to driving and performance, the C5 Aircross is an absolute delight to drive with sharp, responsive handling and impressive ride quality. The car’s suspension system includes Progressive Hydraulic Cushions, a system that helps to smooth out all the bumps and dips along the way and this works exceptionally well on our poorer than average roads.
There is little sign of body roll provided tighter bends are treated with a little respect and the road holding on this front-wheel drive model is confident and assured. The car effortlessly cruises at national speed limits eating up the motorway miles and is also nice and agile in busier city centres where the reversing camera is useful when squeezing into tighter parking spaces.
The driver can flick through drive modes called Electric, Hybrid or Sport, along with D or B settings on the gear selector with B increasing the energy recouped during regenerative braking. You can also save the battery charge and even charge the battery on the move via the petrol engine.
There are steering wheel mounted paddles for added driver engagement, but in all honesty, the automatic gearbox is very nicely timed.
The all-round visibility is excellent thanks to the elevated driving position. This is a ‘must’ on a vehicle that will more than likely feature heavily on the chaotic school run with cars, pedestrians and bicycles darting out from all directions.
On the practicality front, the C5 Aircross has all the bases covered with a well-sized boot that is power-operated and can swallow 460 litres of kit. This limit increases to a generous 1,510 litres with the split-folding rear seats dropped flat and there is space to store the charge cable beneath the boot floor. There are also numerous convenient storage compartments scattered throughout the vehicle.
The car can be charged to 100 per cent capacity in less than two hours via a standard 7kW home charging wallbox.
And when you factor in the multitude of safety features that helped it gain four stars when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating (increased to five stars on hybrid models as they gain the Safety Plus Pack), the C5 Aircross is a very attractive option for any active family with an eye on the environment too.
Citroen C5 Aircross Flair+ 1.5 Auto
It’s a fact that the marketplace is flooded with SUV-styled vehicles these days so any new arrival on the scene needs to be pretty special to stand out from the crowd and the Citroen C5 Aircross does just that.
It’s the French manufacturer’s five-door flagship model and is a real head turner with unique styling cues and an athletic design. It boasts discreet airbumps, a gloss black rear bumper and front grille, narrow LED daytime running lights, twin tail pipes, tinted windows, 3D rear lights and 19-inch alloy wheels.
It’s stunning to look at from any approach and when viewed from the side, it looks like the car has a floating roof thanks to the gloss black A and B pillars.
Our range-topping Flair+ test model also featured some snazzy red splashes of colour on the roof rails, bumper and doors and this contrasted really neatly with the Pearlescent white paintwork.
Move inside and the interior is classy and upmarket with a wealth of on-board techno treats at your disposal. And, in fairness, the car needed to have the ‘wow’ factor with the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar viewed as realistic rivals.
Creature comforts are plentiful and include Nappa leather upholstered seats, along with an eight-inch touchscreen where all the vehicle’s technology can be accessed such as MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, DAB digital radio, navigation system and the climate control.
Powering our car, priced at £30,830 (£32,265 with options), was a punchy 1.5-litre, 129PS diesel engine mated to an eight-speed fully automatic gearbox. It could sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 11.8 seconds, maxed out at 117mph and, according to official WLTP figures, could achieve combined fuel economy of 48.0-56.3mpg with carbon emissions of 106-108g/km.
All SUVs need to be practical and with that in mind, the C5 Aircross tricks all the right boxes with a boot capacity that ranges from 580 litres to 1,630 litres with the trio of individual rear seats dropped flat. These seats also slide forwards and backwards and can be tilted at an angle.
Elsewhere there are 32 litres worth of additional storage places to hide away bits and bobs, including a closed glovebox, open dashboard compartment, a fixed central storage box with sliding lid, front and rear door pockets, front cup holders, map pockets on the front seat backs and garment hooks.
Comfort levels for all occupants are impressively high and the driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility thanks to the elevated seating position. All dials, controls and readouts are well positioned for easy access and the 12.3-inch TFT instrument display is fully customisable.
On the downside, accessing the climate control means taking your eyes off the road while navigating the touchscreen which is quite annoying to say the least. There are quick keys that speed the process up a little, but it’s still too overcomplicated for my liking.
But that was my only gripe during a week behind the wheel of this funky SUV. The driving experience was really rewarding with plenty of power from the diesel engine and smooth gear switches from auto box. The road holding is assured and there is only the slightest sign of any body movement when bends are attacked with a little too much gusto. The highly efficient suspension system also deserves a mention as it did a very valid job of smoothing out the uneven road surfaces.
The C5 Aircross also proved agile in busier town centres where it was easy to manoeuvre through the crowds. That excellent all-round visibility is a plus factor in that setting too with cars, cyclists and pedestrians darting out from all directions.
As one would expect, there are a number of safety features and driver aids to help protect occupants and pedestrians alike. These include anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency brake assist, dynamic stability control, anti-skid system, a driver fatigue monitor, hill start assist and a full suite of airbags.
All in all, the Citroen C5 Aircross may be a little late to the busy SUV party, but it has definitely been worth waiting for. It’s not quite so dynamic to drive as some rivals, but it is a class leader when it comes to comfort and that counts for plenty when clocking up the high mileage.
Citroen C5 Aircross – first drive (2019)
SUV fever is still gaining momentum and just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be room for another model in today’s crowded market, along comes Citroen’s flagship C5 Aircross and it has all the ingredients to make it a great success.
With rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar as well as PSA stablemate, the Peugeot 3008, in its sights, the C5 Aircross needs to be able to make an instant impact. And it does just that with a distinctive style that includes the famous funky airbumps, albeit in a more discreet fashion these days.
The C5 Aircross is most definitely a head turner with its high-sided, dynamic design, complete with a wide, robust front end with slim LED daytime running lights that flow into the large grille housing the Citroen emblem. The side profile is athletic in its appearance with those airbumps, tinted windows, roof rails, chunky wheels and high ground clearance. And at the rear there are 3D lights, a floating roof, twin exhausts, along with plenty of tough cladding to protect the car should it venture away from the Tarmac. Smart splashes of colour to the bumper, doors and roof rails help the car to stand out in any crowd.
The five-door, front-wheel drive vehicle is available powered by two petrol and three diesel engines, and C5 Aircross customers can choose from three richly equipped trim levels called Feel, Flair and Flair Plus with prices ranging from £23,225 to £32,725.
Move inside and the upmarket interior is very easy on the eye with lots of soft-touch surfaces and leather trimmed upholstery on certain trim levels. It looks modern, spacious and practical with three individual rear seats that slide forwards and backwards, can be tilted or folded completely flat. And the storage options impress too with a boot capacity that ranges from 580 litres to a whopping 1,630 litres with the rear seats dropped down. In addition, there are 32 litres of clever storage spaces scattered throughout the car.
Personalisation options are important these days – buyers like to stamp their own individual mark on their car – and the C5 Aircross offers a generous amount of choice. There are seven body colours, three colour packs, along with contrasting roof shades which in total means customers can choose from 30 different combinations.
And of course, apart from being exceptionally practical, modern SUVs need to offer all the latest infotainment and connectivity technology. Once again, the C5 Aircross comes up trumps with the likes of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, DAB radio, Bluetooth, a great sound system, a navigation system, a 12-inch driver information panel, an eight-inch touchscreen and lots more besides.
The cabin is beautifully refined and well insulated against noise with laminated windows helping to keep the outside sounds at bay. And Citroen has worked tirelessly to develop a more cushioned ride to help smooth out undulating road surfaces and smaller potholes – this system seemed to work really well on a lengthy road route around leafy Berkshire with plenty of damaged and worn roads. In addition Grip Control with five settings is available as an option. This will keep you moving during more adverse weather and driving conditions.
We tested a couple of models, both in mid-grade Flair trim, which Citroen is confident will be the most popular choice.
First up was the C5 Aircross 1.2-litre, three cylinder, 129hp petrol driven car with six-speed manual gearbox priced at £25,325 (metallic paint added a further £545 to the cost). This car could reach from 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds, maxed out at 117mph, and according to official WLTP figures, can deliver a combined 40.9mpg with carbon emissions of 121g/km.
Despite being powered by a three-pot engine, the acceleration through the gears was sharp and responsive with ample power on tap at all times. The car was happy weaving through the busy town centre crowds and cruised effortlessly at motorway speeds too.
The road holding proved confident and there was minimal sign of any body sway into tight bends. I should add that the car was sitting on 18-inch wheels which seemed like the perfect match.
With the slightly elevated seats, the driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility and all the readouts and controls are well positioned for ease of use. My only slight gripe was the location of the cup holders behind the chunky gear stick. We had a couple of small water bottles in them and they constantly got in the way. But that aside the car was a delight to drive and offered all the comfort necessary for any lengthy journey.
Next up was the diesel-powered car with a 1.5-litre, four cylinder 129hp engine mated to an eight-speeds automatic gearbox complete with paddles. This car could reach 62mph from a standing start in 11.8 seconds, topped out at 117mph and could deliver 52.3mpg and 106g/km on a combined run.
This model felt a little more refined than the petrol version and was quieter when pushed hard. It also featured a number of options that bumped the price up from £28,425 to £30,790. These included 19-inch alloys, a handsfree tailgate and a panoramic roof that allowed light to flood into the car.
Once again, the C5 Aircross was most accomplished coping well on busy roads as well as out on faster country lanes and motorways. The automatic gearbox was beautifully timed and this test car also boasted a Sport mode to sharpen up its responses. Being the more frugal option this model would be the ideal choice for business drivers clocking up heavy mileage.
Citroen has packed a compressive list of safety features into the C5 Aircross along with 19 driver aids as standard on higher trims or available as options on other grades. These include the likes of highway driver assist that works in tandem with the adaptive cruise control to keep you in your lane while controlling the speed, braking and acceleration. There is also active safety brake, lane departure warning, driver attention warning, collision risk warning, traffic sign recognition, park assist and the Grip Control with hill descent assist.
All in all, the Citroen C5 Aircross SUV is a fabulous all-rounder and is a worthy contender to vie for sales in the bustling SUV market. It looks stunning, drives beautifully, is packed with technology, plus it’s very safe and practical. Quite the complete package then.