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Citroën C5 Aircross test drive

Citroën is taking its first steps into the mid-sized SUV market. How does the new C5 Aircross fare in a highly-competitive market?

Citroën has a history of producing cars that focus on the quality of the ride over anything else – most notably the famous DS from 1955 with its incredible ‘magic carpet’ suspension that would glide over any bump, ironing out potholes or uneven surfaces.

The C5 Aircross is a completely new model for Citroën in Europe, although a slightly different version went on sale in China last year, and it combines the great features of the C3 Aircross and C4 Cactus into a larger, more premium package.

What’s new?

There are plenty of recognisable features from the existing Citroën range that will feel familiar in this, but this large crossover is a first for the brand. It’s a five-seater but it boasts a more usable, higher-capacity boot than the C4 SpaceTourer MPV.

Its party piece is the progressive hydraulic cushion suspension, which we would be putting to the test on rough terrain in Morocco – a surface slightly more aggressive than the local high street it’ll have to combat here in the UK.

How does it look?

The C5 Aircross builds on the striking design that Citroën has been developing over the past few years. It’s still got the airbump panels, but they are positioned more discreetly across the lower panels and doors than you would have seen on the C4 Cactus.

The quirky style of the C3 Aircross has been pushed even further, with bold lines carried across the car and to the front light signatures. The airbump design is also used throughout the exterior, with the bubbly shapes featuring on the grille, wheels and lights.

What’s the spec like?

There are three specification levels on the C5 Aircross – Feel, Flair and Flair Plus.

As standard on the entry-level Feel, the C5 gets the safety pack with active safety braking, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning.

Citroen’s Connect Nav with TomTom updates is available as standard on Flair and Flair Plus, which gives clear and easy-to-understand directions. This is also available with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.

Top-spec Flair Plus cars get added benefits such as wireless smartphone charging, panoramic glass roof, cruise control and driver attention alert too.

What’s it like inside?

Citroën C5 Aircross dashboard | The Car Expert

The most important place for Citroën’s comfort features has to be in the interior, and the designers have done a brilliant job here – particularly with the seats. The soft materials, stylish and modern design and memory foam centre give both the look and feel of a truly comfy car seat.

The interior will look familiar if you’ve spent any time in Citroën’s most recent car and it works really well. Good-sized door pockets, glovebox and another storage bin under the armrest will keep your belongings stored well too.

The C5 Aircross also benefits from three independently adjustable rear seats and two ISOFIX points. Boot space goes from 580 to 720 litres depending on how these seats are adjusted, and with them flattened this increases to 1,630 litres.

What’s under the bonnet?

We tested the C5 Aircross with the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol 180hp engine. However, it’s also available with a diesel of equivalent power in the UK and the option of a 130hp powertrain in either petrol or diesel guise, too.

All options are available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic.

The 1.6-litre petrol can hit 60mph in a very respectable 8.2 seconds, while the 2.0-litre diesel with the same power output will hit that only 0.4 seconds slower. For the best economy, the diesel will return 60mpg on a combined cycle, while the petrol claims 49.6.

What’s it like to drive?

Citroën has put the emphasis on comfort at every stage, but that does mean if you’re looking for precise and direct handling you won’t find an exceptional example here.

That’s not to say the Citroën can’t handle itself on both twisty country lanes and out on the motorway – the steering is quick to respond. However, the C5 Aircross offers relaxed and serene driving as it cruises effortlessly over potholes that would make you brace in another car.

Despite looking like a large SUV, on the road it doesn’t feel too big for the track and is easy to manoeuvre through a tight spot, too.


The C5 Aircross sets a new standard for Citroën’s SUV and crossover range. With a striking presence on the road, a more grown-up look and a range of safety and tech features, it’s a great package for a family buyer.

Its tough exterior paired with the super-soft hydraulic suspension makes for an easy life on the road too, although the styling might not be to everybody’s taste.

Similar cars

Kia Sportage, Peugeot 5008, SEAT Ateca

Key specifications

Model as tested: Citroën C5 Aircross Flair
Price, on-road: £28,325
Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Power: 180 hp
Torque: 250 Nm
Top speed: 134 mph
0-60mph: 8.2 seconds
Fuel economy (combined): 49.6 mpg
CO2 emissions: 131 g/km

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