The Citroën C5 Aircross C-Series, a uniquely styled family car providing class-leading luggage capacity and a strong basic specification
The Citroën C5 Aircross is, in itself, nothing new. Having been on sale since 2018 with a few minor changes, it has sold well. Citroën recently released a new set of models named the “C-Series”, which offer an impressive specification at a more competitive price to boost sales and keep the momentum going. On paper, at least, it seems like a win-win for both Citroën and its customers.
From the Citroën press release, the C-Series model is defined as “accentuating the character and comfort of the brand’s models, placing emphasis on colours and materials and equipment that facilitates the in-car experience.”
Sounds good, right? Well, let’s find out, as this is the model I had on test for a week…
The first thing that strikes me upon taking delivery of the vehicle is just how big the C5 Aircross is. For a 5-seat car, it shocked me – think Skoda Kodiaq sort of size – but by being a 5-seater, all that room is incredibly usable, and not taken up by squeezing a third row of seats in – points to Citroën here, and in fact the C5 Aircross boasts class-leading luggage capacity, a fact that isn’t hard to believe by the voluminous appearance of the boot space!
On the outside, the styling is best described as divisive. The front end looks a little busy, in my opinion, with its split-level lights, while the chunky side mouldings give the C5 Aircross an unusually endearing ‘Tonka Toy’ style appearance. No doubt it’ll prove popular with children, but throughout my week, I swayed like a broken barometer between loving it for being different and disliking it for being too fussy… I’m nothing if not indecisive!
The exterior is also where we get our first taste of the C-Series model, with the new Anodised Deep Red accents shown on the trademark ‘Airbump,’ front bumpers and roof bars. In addition to this, there are prominent “C-Series” badges on the front wings. Should you not be a fan of the rather lovely shade of red, the colour pack is available in Anodised Silver, Anodised White, and exclusively for the hybrid version, Anodised Blue.
Inside, the cabin has also benefitted from numerous model-specific upgrades, with the typical Citroen emphasis on comfort above all else. This is, after all, the ‘Comfort Class’ SUV. The interior design is unique to the C-Series models, with a Grey TEP dashboard, advanced comfort seats and unique front and rear floor mats. While the changes are purely aesthetic, they certainly help the interior stand out compared to other versions.
In terms of equipment and technology, the C-Series model falls between the ‘Feel’ and ‘Shine’ trim levels, boasting the Driver Assistance pack (including intelligent beam headlights and Adaptive cruise control) smartphone connectivity via the Connect Play software, reversing camera, keyless entry and start and rear privacy tints.
In many respects, the C-Series feels almost like a ‘greatest hits’ of software and features, grabbing the highlights from higher up the range but without all the additional ‘fluff’ that brings up the price of the vehicle. This makes the C-Series the ‘sweet spot’ of the range, in my opinion, and it makes financial sense too – the Citroën C5 Aircross C-Series range starts from just £25,775.
So on paper, the merits of the C-Series model are clear. Equipment, styling and comfort at a price point offering excellent value.
But what about the C5 as a whole? Since this is my first time trying one out, the on-road assessment is the actual acid test.
There is absolutely no doubt that this C5 is everything a large family car should be. Spacious, practical, comfortable and convenient, thanks to the aforementioned high specification.
On the road, the stereo is impressive, the infotainment screen is responsive and easy to understand, the seats are incredibly comfortable, and the six-speed manual transmission is generally well-geared and wonderfully smooth in its action. The space is also astounding. Of course, I’ve already mentioned this is by no means a small car. Still, upfront, the amount of space both for and between both front-seat occupants is commendable, with plenty of well-thought-out storage cubbies for all those random items you have to lug around on a long journey.
Back-seat passengers certainly had nothing to complain about either, and there was enough space in the boot to transport a small whale, should the need arise.
It wasn’t all excellent, however. While on paper and at a standstill the C5 Aircross is excellent, I can’t say I was a fan of its on-road performance.
This isn’t a case of lack of speed – of course, this isn’t a car that’s built for speed, performance or handling prowess, but that wasn’t the problem here. Instead, the problem I had is that I’m fairly sure that steering an ocean-going cruise liner would have more feedback than the C5’s steering feel did.
The steering wheel felt in no way connected to, or even in relation to, the direction of the wheels. Steering inputs would be admitted, and then the car would steer in a vaguely similar direction, often after a noticeable delay when making short, sharp inputs at speed. Similarly, the clutch and throttle response were light as a feather, leading to a feeling of complete disconnection from the car while driving it. All fine while on the motorway (in fact, it’s perfect for it), but on anything remotely winding, I found the feeling slightly unnerving and certainly not to my liking.
Elsewhere, the automatic front braking system is far too sensitive and panics every time you go through any gap smaller than runway two at Heathrow. At the same time, even after a week of regular driving, I still couldn’t quite figure out how to use the cruise control system correctly as it was so unnecessarily fiddly, with vision of the switches and labels obscured by the steering wheel. I understand this is the same as Citroën have used for years, but new Citroen drivers may struggle.
There is also the matter of the door cards being too tough – a trivial complaint, sure, but one that does have an impact on long journeys as you’ll discover your arm and elbow going numb after an extended stint of driving. More pressingly, the un-assisted tailgate is also very heavy. While I have no issue with this, those of a shorter nature or physical impairment may struggle to reach and close the tailgate, especially if juggling children as is often the case with a large family car.
That being said, I feel that the benefits far outweigh the faults here. If you’re looking for a large family car that’s easy to drive, has tonnes of space, an excellent level of equipment and an excellent price point, I can’t particularly fault the Citroën C5 Aircross as a suggestion.
Specifically, I have to give props to Citroën for launching the ‘C-Series’ cars. An ideal way to the Aircross range without paying for unnecessary tech or ‘fluff’ inflating the vehicle’s price point.
The Citroën C5 Aircross C-Series does bring together the best the range has to offer without the ‘filler’. Although my overall rating for the C5 Aircross C-Series is 3.5/5, I must stress that the concept and execution of the C-Series range in itself is a strong 5/5!
Author rating: 3.5/5
Kieran Bicknell offers his fresh take on car reviews by making the most of his dynamic, yet detailed approach to writing. Having graduated from university with a BA (Hons) in Photography and spending a number of years as a freelance automotive photographer. Kieran is now putting his knowledge and writing skills to use, with the ability to supply both written articles and imagery. Kieran feels at home in anything from small superminis to the latest SUVs, and relishes the opportunity to drive, photograph and write about anything with four wheels.
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