CITROEN C5 AIRCROSS – DELIGHTFULLY DIFFERENT

After some time in the Australian automotive wilderness Citroen, under its new importer, Inchcape, has been rejuvenated, albeit with a range of just three vehicles: the C3 small hatchback and two SUVs, compact C3 Aircross and, our test car, the mid-sized C5 Aircross.

The C5 Aircross, comes in two variants, Feel and Shine, priced at $42,990 and $46,990 plus on-road costs.

STYLING
We love the looks of this big French SUV. The overall shape sticks to traditional SUV body styling but the combination of an imposing grille highlighted by the latest version of the iconic Citroen chevron badge leading to a high-tech two-tiered bonnet, stylish side vents with coloured inserts and four-piece taillights call out ‘Vive La Difference’.

Both sides have lower cladding featuring Citroen’s clever air bumps, a more subtle version of the side protectors that we first encountered in the C4 Cactus.

There’s excellent ground clearance of 230mm and it runs on 18-inch (Feel) or 19-inch (Shine) alloy wheels featuring sharp styling.

INTERIOR
There’s no Gallic quirkiness about the cabin of the C5 Aircross, it’s large, comfortable and functional with a high-driving position and height and reach steering wheel adjustment for maximum driver convenience.

The steering wheel, with built-in controls, has a lovely feel to it. It has a thick rim with a flat base paired with a gloss black and satin chrome finish and, on Shine variants, two-tone full-grain leather.

The seats are wide and very comfortable. According to Citroen they have been inspired by modern bedding and its use of ‘memory materials’, including foams of different densities and hardness depending on the role – support or cushioning – of the component.

Only the Shine variant gets powered driver’s seat adjustment.

There is plenty of practical storage spaces including a large butterfly-style storage box in the centre console. In front of it are two cup holders and a long slot ideal for wallets or phones. At the base of the front console there’s another tray with a USB port and 12V socket at the back.

There’s plenty of headroom both front and rear with the three individual rear seats having multiple adjustment options. They can be slid forward and back, tilted or folded. Behind them C5 Aircross has an outstanding cargo capacity of 580 litres, expanding to 720 litres when the rear seats are moved to their forward-most position.

Both models also have a kick-open tailgate.

ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
CR5 Aircross is powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine which it shares with its Peugeot sibling / rival the 3008. It generates 121 kW at 6000 rpm and 240 Nm at 1400 rpm.

Transmission is through an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. It comes with a ‘Sport’ mode and steering column-mounted paddle shifters.

SAFETY
Standard features in both C5 Aircross variants includes six airbags; enhanced ABS brakes; autonomous emergency braking; lane departure warning; lane keep assist; blind spot detection; speed-sign recognition; driver inattention alert; surround view parking monitor; IsoFix child-seat anchorages; and front parking sensors (rear also in the Shine).

Poor scores in some pedestrian and cyclist safety aspects of the autonomous emergency braking system have led to a four-star ANCAP rating.

INFOTAINMENT
There are two screens, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster in front of the driver and an 8.0-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard. Both are crisp, clear and easy to read.

Unfortunately, Citroen has followed the current trend of tablet-style controls in place of the traditional buttons and knobs. Only the audio on/off and volume control gets the latter, and it’s on the left-hand side of the centre console. Everything else, including the air conditioning controls, need a series of taps with the resultant driver distraction.

By contrast the digital driver display is very user-friendly and provides information with minimal time needed from the road ahead. Even better it can be configured to fits each driver’s preferences.

Integrated satellite navigation is standard as are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto pairing; DAB+ digital radio; voice recognition for phone, radio and SatNav; and USB sockets in the centre console and the rear of the front armrest. Shine adds wireless smartphone charging.

DRIVING
Arguably the best feature of the C5 Aircross is comfort, not only inside but also in its driving qualities. It uses Citroen’s all-new Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension which use two hydraulic stops – one for compression and one for rebound which work in tandem to further slow down the whole action of the shocks

There’s also advanced soundproofing with reduced road and wind noise by using double-laminated front windows, while attention has also been paid to the engine compartment’s soundproofing.

Although C5 Aircross doesn’t come with all-wheel drive, it does have Citroen’s Advanced Grip Control which provides some AWD-like capability on low-grip surfaces – snow, mud, sand, ESP off – through the vehicle’s traction control system.

Performance is much as you would expect from a four-cylinder 1.6-litre engine and six-speed automatic transmission. It works fine around the suburbs and cruises well enough on the motorway but did struggle to accelerate quickly when needed on the hilly segment of our rural test route.

Fuel consumption is listed at 7.9 litres/100 km on the combined urban/highway cycle. On our test we averaged 8.6 L/km.

SUMMING UP
Unfortunately for Citroen the C5 Aircross sits in the large and highly-competitive Medium SUV market segment where it’s up against vehicles such as Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-Trail, Hyundai Tucson et al.

The Shine variant that we tested is priced around the same mark as the top spec models as these competitors and, to date, its sales have been negligible, not helped by previous poor marketing. Hopefully that will change in future because C5 Aircross offers so much in terms of styling, comfort and individuality.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL LINE-UP
C5 Aircross Feel: $42,990
C5 Aircross Shine: $46,990
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Citroen dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Citroen C5 Aircross Shine 1.6-litre turbo petrol five-door wagon)
Capacity: 1.598 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 121 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 240 Nm @ 1400 rpm
Fuel type: Petrol 98 RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 7.9 litres per 100 km
CO2 emissions: 179 g/km

DRIVELINE:
Drivetrain: Six-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4500 mm
Width: 1859 mm (excluding mirrors)
Height: 1690 mm
Wheelbase: 2730 mm
Turning circle: 10.8 metres
Tare weight: 1402 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 53 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Disc

WARRANTY:
Five years / unlimited kilometres

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