Citroën C5 Aircross long-term test review
Citroën's largest SUV is based on the same underpinnings as the What Car? Award-winning Peugeot 5008, but is it as easy to live with? We're finding out...
The car Citroën C5 Aircross Puretech 180 Flair Run by Alastair Clements, special contributor
Why it’s here Citroën’s new entry into the congested large SUV market offers something different, with an approach that favours comfort over dynamic excellence
Needs to Offer more than just quirky looks and a supple ride. In this class, nothing short of brilliance will do
Mileage 5420 List price £29,350 Target Price £26,906 Price as tested £29,050 Dealer price now £24,985 Private price now £22,207 Trade-in price £22,739 Test economy 30.3mpg Official average 39.6mpg (WLTP) Contract hire £258 Insurance group 24 Total running cost £1057
14 October 2019 – Farewell to the C5 Aircross
Early on in my time with this family-friendly SUV, I concluded that despite its modern style and outlook, the C5 Aircross is definitely a ‘proper’ Citroën, prioritising innovation and comfort over B-road dynamism or ‘premium’ interior finishes. And what better time to be driving such a car than in the French marque's centenary year?
Sadly, I didn’t make it over to France for the official Célébration Centenaire, held from 19-21 July at the company’s old test site, La Ferté-Vidame, in the Loire Valley. However, it has been special to visit classic car shows in the UK and feel a part of the positivity surrounding the Double Chevron badge’s birthday.
And it helps that the C5 Aircross is such a pleasant place to be – at least from the driver’s seat. Sitting on the memory-foam cushions is like relaxing in a favourite armchair, and the clever hydraulic bumpstops in the suspension contribute to a remarkably supple ride, even if there were complaints from some passengers that it made them feel queasy on twisty roads.
But then the C5 Aircross isn't really designed for those; its light steering and substantial body lean tend to discourage you from emulating Sébastien Ogier’s efforts in his Citroën C3 on the stages of the World Rally Championship.
In most conditions, my car's range-topping turbo petrol engine didn’t feel meaningfully faster than the impressive 1.2-litre Puretech 130, but whenever extra performance was needed (to safely overtake slow-moving traffic, for example), the 1.6-litre unit’s 178bhp could take me by surprise as the usually sedentary Citroën picked up its skirt and took off.
I did find that the standard eight-speed automatic gearbox could be hesitant at selecting the correct ratio, particularly on kickdown, and it was very occasionally caught out in traffic by the engine start-stop system being a bit keen to cut in. But drive the C5 Aircross in the laid-back manner that its character encourages and the engine and gearbox remain largely in harmony.
Perhaps inevitably, there have been frustrations over the past four months. I had trips to the dealer to replace a broken glovebox and to attempt – unsuccessfully – to find the source of a mysterious fault code, but the latter seemed to cure itself, and the quality of the fit and finish impressed overall, with few rattles to speak of 5000 miles on.
It did prove pretty thirsty: I spent a lot of time commuting through congested suburban traffic, which certainly didn't help, but my average of 30.3mpg fell well short of even the official consumption figure of 39.6mpg.
Otherwise, though, the C5 Aircross is an easy car to live with. It’s stylish inside and out, well equipped and swallows kids, dogs and the detritus of family life with ease. A particular favourite feature of mine inside is the profusion of cubbyholes and storage areas, which are all large enough to mean there’s no need to trouble the boot during a quick trip to the shops.
The boot itself is huge and very practically shaped, too. Rear seat space is limited, but it was plenty roomy enough for my 10-year-old and 13-year-old, and they loved the quirky stitching of the leather seat trim, which youngest Niamh likened to “a great set of abs”.
But the lasting impression of time spent with the C5 Aircross is one of remarkable comfort. This is a car that cossets and soothes, the antidote to a hard day at the office or a rage-inducing traffic jam. In an area of the car market as competitive as the large SUV segment, where’s it’s hard to see past the established class leaders, the C5 Aircross rises above the also-rans by offering a distinct unique selling point, and it’s here that Citroën has played a trump card. Not a bad birthday present to itself, really.