Citroen’s new flagship is the C5 Aircross SUV. The five seat machine is big on comfort and road presence. The five door is more mature than its siblings yet is distinctive if only a little crazy in styling terms. Being a Citroen the exterior is quite customisable with up to 30 combinations available.
The outside is quite blocky with lots of small details that make it distinctive on the road. bright led DLRs set above the headlights and the large double chevron badge are bold identifiers as are the 3D effect rear lights. A small nominal air bump features on the flanks andthe doors are full length so you won’t get your legs dirty getting in and out – even if the car is muddy.
Inside follows the Citroen’s current design language with its nice geometric linear shapes that differentiates it from PSA group partners Peugeot and DS. The driver looks through the steering wheel at a large 12.3 inch TFT screen that has multiple display options. A row of short cut touch buttons feature, they look great but are slow to react. Generally too many touch actions are needed to do the simple stuff as if Citroen is trying too hard. Few cars get “its very comfy” praise from my other half. Often an irrationally harsh critic she fell in love with Citroen’s latest memory foam seats that I must agree really are very comfortable. The magic carpet ride classic like the DS and CX were down to unique suspension. Today the suspension is less revolutionary but still clever thanks to brilliantly engineered shock absorbers called ‘Progressive Hydraulic Cushions’. The suspension and the ‘advanced comfort’ seats combine with great affect and this is the car’s best attribute. Seating is impressive for its flexibility as the three rear seats are full size and adjustable and this is important for families. The front passenger seat has ISOfix child seat anchors. Storage in the cabin is good with lots of cubbies. The boot is big at 580 litre expandable to 720 litres depending on the position of the rear seats. The boot floor is adjustable to make a flat load area flush with the sill. Fold the seats and the Aircross is van like in capacity. A massive sunroof with an electric blind was fitted to my test car.
You can specify an inbuilt dash-cam plus 20 driver assistance systems are available along with level 2 automation. All of PSA’s traction and driving aids like its excellent faux all wheel drive witchcraft ‘Grip Control’ and its hill decent control HAD can be specified. Smart phone wireless charging and connectivity is good with Carplay and Android Auto. The in car navigation is PSAs and is not the best when used in Ireland. My house was built 22 years ago and the navigation doesn’t know the road’s name – unlike rival’s systems. You can personalise secondary and convenience car setting through individual profiles although the odd time my car reverted to French (as did a Peugeot 508 I tested recently) which is ‘assez bizarre’.
The C5 Aircross is built in France and alongside the Euro 6.2 compliant diesel and petrol engines will come a plug-in hybrid by the end of 2019. two engines will dominate sales in Ireland a petrol power 1.2 litre 130hp three-cylinder (a 180hp auto 1.6 is available also) and a 1.5 litre diesel with 130hp (a 180hp 2 litre auto is also available). A six speed manual gearbox is standard with an EAT8 automatic available. The grades are called: Start (petrol only), Touch, Feel and flair.
On the road the C5 Aircross drives as well as rivals and is utterly unremarkable. My 1.2 litre petrol manual Flair test car (€33,695) pushed out 130hp and could cruise and accelerate surprisingly well for such a big beast. In a large car it can be frustrating to shift cogs manually and an auto gearbox makes for a more relaxed drive. Hill starts or junctions can be less hassle and a lot less lurchy with a small engine if it is automatic. Diesel power still dominates this size of car but for city use or a quieter life the petrol is a good effort. Fuel consumption is no where near the diesel and this should be remembered when buying to commute in.