“You have arrived at your destination!” The Satnav voice said.
And indeed I had, at home. But the Satnav map showed that we were seventy-three miles away in someone’s back garden near Rugby! One of my initial impressions of Citroën’s C5 Aircross was, therefore, a tad tarnished.
It turned out, Citroen UK later informed me that the system was ‘out-of-date’.
Never mind: annoying, yes, but we all have smartphones, don’t we? (So should we pay for in-car satellite navigation?) When it seems more and more people use their own connection these days.
Moving on, Citroën’s ‘compact’ SUV had a lot to offer.
The test car was the £31,135 ‘Flair’ version, so I was hoping for just that…flair.
And, after a week of the C5 keeping my nice and secure during some of those horribly endless stormy days, I warmed to this comfortable and not un-sporty car.
When you open the door, the first thing you see are the very plush-looking seats — ‘Bonjour, mon ami…climb aboard and settle down,’ they seem to say!
Recalling my first drive of its smaller brother, the C3 Aircross, the ride was outstandingly good. Was I equally impressed with the C5’s? Initially not quite, but overall, a week driving around on ‘Progressive Hydraulic Cushions’ ended with no complaints over all sorts of road surfaces.
This included fording through a fair number of flooded country lanes…in such a car, they’re no problem.
On the open road, the C5 can be brisk enough, with its 2-litre diesel able to get to 62 mph in 8.6 seconds. More important, as ever, is that 400 Nm of torque from 2000 rpm is just right for swift, safe overtaking on dual carriageways and motorways. Out there, the C5 was pleasantly quiet; before that, starting off and accelerating hard, the diesel engine made itself heard.
The fuel consumption, indicated at the end of my week, was a very useful 44.1 mpg.
The car has a very good stop/start system; I have usually found myself turning these off, but here I just let it do its thing and it didn’t cause any problems, such as switching off at just the moment that you want to drive off out of the T-junction you’ve briefly stopped at.
Emissions are impressive, relative to the competition, at an official (to be confirmed) 124-127 g/km.
The engine transmits its power to the appropriate wheels through PSA’s excellent 8-speed automatic. The changes are super-slick-smooth. The only way of telling which gear you’re in is by looking at the telltale in the instrument panel. And, yes, there are paddles if you disagree with the car.
Talking of disagreement, automatic wipers can be a contentious issue, but the Citroën and I always seemed to agree. The automatic headlights and I, however, did not always see eye-to-eye, since the 8-inch touchscreen would go to its dark mode that sometimes was a little annoying. Yes, you can fiddle with the system to change that, but the less fiddling about the better.
The car is comfortable for two in the front, of course; but, unlike some, it is also a reasonable carrier for three adults in the back: somewhat unusually, the person in the middle has enough floor-space that they don’t have to squash their shoes up against their neighbours’.
The boot has a double floor design and a steel spare space-saver wheel., still than a squirt puncture repair, maybe.
If technology is important, this car does well in the connectivity stakes.
If safety is paramount (surely it must be), Citroën is well up with the competition. The whole car is, like others, is aimed at keeping its occupants as safe as the laws of physics allow: skid-prevention is the name of the game, whether under braking or steering input.
After a period of driving, the instrument panel suggests, ‘take a coffee break:’ SO French. Here, we take a tea-break, don’t we?
The Citroën C5 Aircross does have plenty to offer but so do many others.
Car reviewed: Citroën C5 Aircross BlueHDi 180 S&S EAT8 Flair, on the road price £31,135 estimated 0-62mph 8.6secs Top speed 130mph Engine 1997cc 4 cylinder diesel Euro 6.2 Fuel Economy Combined 40.4mpg CO2 emissions 124g/km Max Power 177PS@3750rpm Torque 400Nm@2000rpm Transmission 8-speed automatic with manual mode
Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.
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