Citroën belatedly joins the medium SUV segment. Citroën has announced first details of the European version of the C5 Aircross SUV, a model that shares its underpinnings with the Peugeot 3008 and DS 7 Crossback, but with a quirky design and Citroën’s Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension. First seen at the Shanghai motor show in April 2017, the SUV will be in showrooms later this year, with Citroën’s first-ever plug-in hybrid model following a year later.
CITROËN C5 AIRCROSS FIRST DETAILS REVEALED
Sharing its design theme with the C3 Aircross crossover, the bigger model has distinctive Airbump cladding around its door sills and bumpers and a choice of 30 exterior colour combinations. Seven paint colours can be combined with a body-coloured or black roof and a pack of silver, white or red trim accents. Blacked out pillars create a ‘floating roof’ effect, only broken by a swathe of chrome that kicks up behind the rear windows. A bonnet with deep scallops at either side, two-tone roof rails and intricate three-dimensional rear light clusters are a few more striking features that will help set the C5 Aircross apart from rivals.
There’s a focus on horizontal lines inside, both for the wide dashboard and Advanced Comfort seats (inspired by those fitted in past models like the Citroen CX and Citroen Xantia no less), with an armchair style and contrasting stripes across their shoulders. The fascia is dominated by an eightinch capacitive infotainment screen, flanked by four air vents stacked vertically at either side. There’s also a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and a new flat-bottomed steering wheel to make getting in and out easier. Elsewhere there are very few buttons and a selector wheel for the driving modes takes pride of place on the centre console, in front of backlit cupholders.
Measuring 4,500mm in length, 1,840mm wide and 1,670mm tall, the Citroën is 53mm longer than the Peugeot 3008 and the same width, but Citroën claims the C5 Aircross has class-leading flexibility and luggage space. The latter can be adjusted from 580 to 720 litres by sliding the individual rear seats forward, and you can also fold them or recline the backrests. With the seats folded down, there’s up to 1,630 litres on offer. Citroën has also concentrated on maximising the size of the boot aperture, making the luggage area a square shape and providing a low lip to take the strain out of loading bulky items. There’s also a powered tailgate offering hands-free opening.
There are three diesel versions from launch, starting with the 1.5-litre BlueHDi 130 unit with a six-speed manual gearbox, or equipped with an EAT8 eight-speed automatic and “stop-start”. The range-topper is the 2.0-litre BlueHDi 180 engine that comes with the automatic gearbox as standard and no manual option. Economy figures won’t be available until closer to its on-sale date, but Citroën claims the new automatic is around seven per cent more efficient than the old EAT6 transmission thanks to its extra gear ratios, updated design and wider “stop-start” operating window – at speeds of up to 12mph.
Power is sent to the front wheels, but Grip Control has off-road modes to aid traction in slippery conditions, while Hill Assist Descent and mud and snow tyres will be offered as an option. If you want an all-wheel drive SUV, you could wait for the plug-in hybrid version to arrive in 2019, with an electric motor powering the rear wheels and an all-electric range of up to 37 miles.
Citroën has pushed the boat out when it comes to driver aids, hailing it as a ‘major step towards autonomous driving’, and the C5 Aircross can automatically keep pace with traffic (from 19mph to 112mph), and take care of steering, although you’re still required to keep your hands on the steering wheel. It can also brake automatically to help avoid collisions. Order banks for the new C5 Aircross will open later this year, with the first examples arriving in UK showrooms before the end of the year.
“There are three diesel versions from launch, starting with the 1.5-litre BlueHDi 130 unit…”