New car review

Citroën C5 Aircross review

Does Citroën’s new compact SUV have what it takes to stand out in a crowded market?

Summary

The Citroen C5 Aircross will turn some prospective buyers away with its looks, while attracting others. But all will agree that, in terms of function, this newcomer is right up with the best in its overcrowded segment and very much worth checking out.
Design
8.0
Comfort
8.0
Driving
7.0
Value for money
8.0
Safety
9.0

Summary

The Citroen C5 Aircross will turn some prospective buyers away with its looks, while attracting others. But all will agree that, in terms of function, this newcomer is right up with the best in its overcrowded segment and very much worth checking out.

60-second summary

What is it?
The Citroën C5 Aircross is the brand’s new compact SUV model line.

Key features
Strong style, versatile interior, plenty of standard safety tech.

Our view
The Citroën C5 is a distinctive new offering in the overcrowded compact SUV market.

Its style will attract praise and criticism in equal measure, but there’s no denying its versatile interior, effective if not particularly engaging performance and impressive levels of technology.

Similar cars
Kia Sportage, Renault Kadjar, Peugeot 3008

Citroen C5 Aircross review - The Car Expert


Full review

Introduction

Everyone wants an SUV and it’s a buyer’s market because just about every manufacturer now makes one. So when Citroën came to design its new compact SUV, the French brand says it did the obvious thing – asked its customers what they didn’t like about SUVs.

So the all-new Citroën C5 Aircross is said to answer the three major criticisms – the fact that SUVs generally aren’t that great to be in, don’t really have versatile interiors and don’t offer much space in the boot.

One thing one can say about Citroën is that the brand brings a little welcome distinction to a market bulging with cars that look very much like one another.

First seen as a concept at the Shanghai motor show in 2015 (and on sale in China since 2017) The C5 Aircross completes a complete revamp of the brand’s model range with five major launches in two years – and whether you are a fan or not of signature styling touches such as the horizontal dashboards and ‘airbump’ plastic bulges on the flanks, at least these cars are a bit different.

The C5 Aircross adopts some of the family traits already seen on such models as the C4 Cactus family hatch. It has a high, horizontal bonnet with a two-tier headlight signature. The body is low but placed high, standing 23cm from the ground. There is a C-shaped chrome strip bordering the rear screen pillar, and the contrast finish of said pillar gives the illusion of a floating roof.

The airbumps are restricted to the sills on this model, but of course one on each side is highlighted in a contrasting colour. In fact, there are seven body colours, three colour packs and the opportunity to specify a two-tone contrasting roof – in all 30 colour combinations are available for those who seek the personal touch.

Buying and owning a Citroën C5 Aircross

C5 Aircross models offer with five drivetrain options, of which notably three are diesel-powered – Citroën clearly believes there’s life in the oil burner yet. New to the car is an eight-speed automatic transmission, claimed to offer 7% fuel economy gains over the previous six-speed unit.

Prices start from £23,225 and the prospective buyer has three trims to choose from, dubbed Feel, Flair and Flair+.

Citroën has made much in recent times of its desire to offer the most comfortable ride in the market but you have to choose the Flair variants – expected to be the best sellers – to get the brand’s ‘Advanced Comfort System’ seats with 15mm of extra foam.

However, the Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension, which adds extra valves at each end of the dampers to smooth out jarring potholes and such, is standard across the range.

Perhaps more importantly, every C5 Aircross gets a suite of safety features, including autonomous emergency braking, blind spot and lane departure warnings, and a connected box which can alert emergency services if the car is in an accident.

The C5 Aircross has not been crash-tested by Euro NCAP yet, but Citroën will be hoping for a five-star rating, having been stuck on four stars with the current C3 hatch and C4 Cactus models.

It’s easy to see why the Flair is expected to take most sales. The £2,100 higher bill produces a host of extra equipment, including the ConnectedCAM Citroën that is effectively a built-in dashcam.

While every car gets Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink smartphone compatibility, you need a Flair for Citroën’s own connected navigation, while front parking sensors and a rear camera, electric heated folding mirrors also stand out on the specification.

As for the Flair+, another £2,400 pays for several luxury items, such as an electric tailgate, auto main-beam headlamps, wireless smartphone charging and keyless entry, plus an opening panoramic glass sunroof.

You also get active cruise control on the top model, which in versions with the auto transmission includes a stop and go function for an easier life in congested traffic. And the system includes a level 2 autonomous system called Highway Driver Assist, which keeps the car in the middle of its motorway lane.

Continued on next page: Interior, drive experience and our verdict

Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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