Being one of the last car companies to launch a medium-sized SUV, Citroën has been able to take stock of the market, assess the strengths and weaknesses of rivals, and come up with a solution that beats them all at their own game. Two areas were identified during benchmarking that Citroën could excel in, and that was comfort and spaciousness. So, you won’t be surprised to learn that the new C5 Aircross is one of the most spacious mid-sized SUVs on the market – with boot space that is larger than the C4 SportTourer with all passengers on board.
FIRST TEST 2019 CITROËN C5 AIRCROSS FLAIR PLUS BLUEHDI 180
The C5 Aircross journey began almost four years ago, when the Aircross concept was revealed in Shanghai to much fanfare. The bright red show car signified Citroën’s desire to boldly enter the medium SUV market, and apart from some detail changes, the design has translated into production very well. There’s the same complicated nose treatment, the interesting chrome side window signature, and the Airbumps are present and correct, albeit in a slimmed down fashion. The tall stance, colourful highlights and bulbous rear light clusters all remain, too, as a strong link to the show car.
The cabin takes inspiration from recent Citroëns, including the C4 Cactus, with a strong focus on occupant well-being. The Advanced Comfort measures are at work here, with hugely comfortable seats that are designed to cosset, while also offering good lateral support. Their squidgy nature means that you’re enveloped into them, rather than being perched on top. The command-like driving position affords great all-round visibility, thanks in part to deep side windows. Up front, a mixture of soft and hard surfaces are combined with a smattering of piano black and metallic appliqués, all feeling nicely textured and of decent quality.
Move to the back, though, and the door cards feature scratchy plastics that are at odds with the ambience of the front. The eight-inch centrally mounted touchscreen is flanked by eight air vents, while horizontally arranged buttons are grouped logically for ease of use. A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster delivers superb clarity, and all of the major controls are neatly labelled and easily accessible. Space for oddments is superb, with a tray area in front of the joysticklike gear lever, a deep area underneath the central armrest, decent-sized door pockets and a pair of cupholders. There’s also an area next to the gear lever for a smartphone, sweets or coins for parking. Space is generous in whatever seat you choose, with three equally-sized rear chairs that offer plenty of knee and legroom, as well as lots of head space. Front seat passengers have no reason to complain, either, with a lovely cocoon-like effect, thanks to the high centre console. Boot capacity can be altered by sliding the rear seats forward and back, balancing between extra legroom for rear occupants and extra cargo carrying ability. There are 580 litres in the normal position, or 720 litres with the chairs pushed forward, and this can be extended to 1,630 litres by folding the back seats down almost flat.
We’ve tested the 174bhp 2.0-litre BlueHDi 180 unit in numerous other vehicles, but this application is its finest. Neatly hushed with sound deadening material, you barely hear a peep out of it, even with the accelerator pedal flat to the floor. It’s a shame then that road and tyre noise is so noticeable, though it could be that the Moroccan roads that we tested the C5 Aircross on may be to blame. It’s only when we get to the test the car on UK tarmac that we’ll know for definite. Elsewhere, refinement is excellent, with ride comfort that is sublime. The trademark Progressive Hydraulic Cushions are in their element soaking up poor surfaces, and there was little else on the Marrakesh streets. They make UK roads seem like billiard tables in comparison, and this bodes well for when the SUV Citroën arrives over here. Handling is taut and fluid, with very little body lean when cornering. Grip levels are good, and this can be enhanced further in slippery conditions by choosing Grip Control as an option. This system works by utilising the traction control in a clever way, boosting grip in mud, ice and snowy conditions. The C5 Aircross is on sale now and arrives in UK showrooms in February.
To be sold exclusively as a five-seater, there won’t be a seven-seat option. Buyers have the choice of Feel, Flair and Flair Plus trim levels, with all versions generously equipped. 17-inch alloy wheels, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, rain sensor, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and DAB radio are all included as standard. But it’s the mid-range Flair that possibly offers the best package, with a navigation system, half leather upholstery, ConnectedCam, 18-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, reversing camera, front parking sensors and an auto-dimming rear view mirror included within the price tag. The top-of-the- range Flair Plus model features larger 19-inch alloys, wireless phone charging, driver drowsiness detection, keyless entry and start, electric tailgate, active cruise control and a panoramic glass roof.
SPECIFICATIONS 2019 Citroën C5 Aircross Flair Plus Bluehdi 180
On sale Now
In showrooms February 2019
Prices £24,725 to £32,725
Body styles 5-door SUV
Engines 1.5 manual and automatic (129bhp), 2.0 automatic (174bhp)
Trim levels Feel, Flair, Flair Plus
Also consider Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008
Model tested Flair Plus BlueHDi 180
Price in UK £32,725
Built in Rennes, France
Body style 5-door SUV, 5-seats
Powerplant 1,997cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbo diesel
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Stop-start Yes SCR Yes
Max power 174bhp @ 3,750rpm
Max torque 295lb ft @ 2,000rpm
Top speed 131mph 0-62mph 8.6secs
CO2 emissions 124g/km (Euro-6d-Temp)
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 54.3/62.8/60.1mpg
Fuel tank size 53 litres
Range 701 miles Insurance group tba
BIK rate 29%
Size (length/width with mirrors) 4,500/2,099mm
Boot space (min/max) 580-720/1,630 litres
Kerb/max towing weight 1,540/1,650kg
Euro NCAP crash rating Not yet tested
Verdict Hugely comfortable, even over roads that are merely dirt-tracks, the C5 Aircross is spacious, efficient, well-equipped and competitively priced.
Drive-My rating 4.0