Why would I buy it?
- Quirky Looks
- Superb engine and gearbox
- High-speed ride quality
Why would I avoid it?
- Diesel thrum audible in the cabin
- Poor headlights in the feel variant
The Citroen C5 Aircross is a breath of fresh air. It has a refreshing design, well laid out and flexible interiors and an extremely potent diesel engine and gearbox. Citroen’s USP with the C5 Aircross has been comfortable motoring and it is an extremely comfortable SUV thanks to the interesting suspension set-up, however, it’s not something that will blow your mind. While the ride quality is superb at higher speeds, it’s lumpy at low speeds. Also while the cabin is silent under most conditions, under constant acceleration the diesel thrum is always audible.
But leaving those small niggles aside, the C5 Aircross does offer a refreshingly different motoring and dealership experience and is sure to be liked by a lot of people. Now what remains to be seen is how well Citroen wants to penetrate the market and they can do that by launching the C5 Aircross at a superb price tag. Fingers crossed!
Engine and Performance
Powering the C5 is a 2.0-litre diesel engine that makes 175bhp and a massive 400Nm of torque and it powers the front wheels only so no AWD here. But you do get to choose between eco and sports mode and should you decide to go off the beaten path you also get 4 traction modes to choose from, standard, snow, all-terrain and sand. Gearbox duty is handled by an 8-speed automatic gearbox. No twin clutch here but a torque converter instead.
Now Citroen claims best in class noise insulation in the cabin and we must say its really good, but every time the throttle comes into play, a slight diesel thrum is always present. But its almost absent at cruising speeds.
But what is phenomenal is the throttle response. Its immediate with no lag whatsoever. Bags of torque along with the well-spaced gear ratios mean the C5 has the performance whenever you call for it. Gearshifts are also quick and you also get the convenience of paddle shifters. The strong performance is further complimented by good fuel efficiency and Citroen claims a figure of 18.6 kmpl.
Ride and Handling
Now let’s get to the ride and handling. And let’s begin with ride first because Citroen claims the C5 to be the comfort class SUV. And we’d better believe them because Citroen has been at the forefront of suspension technology from as early as 1919 with cars like the 2 CV, DS and the GS. The C5 gets what Citroen calls, the Citroen Advanced Comfort Program. So while the regular cars get a shock absorber, a spring and a mechanical bump stop, the C5 gets Progressive Hydraulic Cushions that smoothen out large bumps and minor road imperfections.
Now that’s a lot of technical mumbo jumbo, but does it work? Well its a yes and a no. Driving it around you get a wafting feel like you get in cars with air suspension and that does feel comfy. But low speed bumps especially the sharp ones are felt. Infact at lower speeds the ride quality is good but not much to talk about. Its only when the speeds get above 60kmph that the suspension really gets into its stride absorbing undulations.
On the handling front, the C5 feels surefooted. the steering might not have too much feel but its quick and helps changing directions quickly. But its no corner carver. the tall dimensions and soft suspension setup means there is body roll so its best to take it easy in the corners. Overall the C5 Aircross feels plenty comfortable but not ground breakingly so.
Interior Space and Quality
Getting inside the cabin, the funky exterior design follows on the inside too. You get a grey black combo all over and what is immediately apparent is the fresh-ness the cabin exudes. You get this straight dashboard with these well designed vertical air-con vents. And bang in the center is the 8-inch touch screen infotainment system which we wish could have been 2-inches larger. You get the aircon controls below the screen, but you also get direct control buttons for music, aircon, navigation and more and they are touch operated.
The instrument binnacle is even better. It’s a 12.3-inch digital cluster and can be customized with three graphic modes – Personal, Dual, and Minimum and it looks quite fancy with all the information in front of you. Its also a very practical cabin. The large compartment under the central armrest has a section that can carry a 1.5L bottle, whilst the glove box and door pockets are roomy too. You’ll also get a large storage area at the front of the centre console.
Now lets talk about the seats. Now the C5’s USP is comfort and while one of the key parameters for it is the ride quality, Citroen has also paid special attention to the seats.
For starters they look and feel special. The seats are grey grained leather with a light grey band. But more than just looking special, Citroen claims that along with broad cushions and seatbacks, you also get high density foam at the base and thick textured foam at the surface. And boy do they work well. You get lumbar support as well and there is adequate support all around to make the journeys comfortable. While the driver seat is electrically adjustable, the co-passenger needs to do the adjustments manually. The only thing missing is ventilation which would have made it perfect.
Moving on to the back bench, there is plenty of legroom and the seats are just as comfortable, but they can become even more comfortable because in actuality these are three independent seats which can be reclined or folded down to a flat floor for fitting in the extra luggage.
Even the boot has plenty of space. You do get an electric tail-gate but in the top shine variant. With all the seats in place it has a humongous 580 litres of boot space. Move the rear seats to their furthest forward position and you’ve got up to 720L, giving you the most generous boot in its class. With the modular rear seats folded away, there’s an amazing 1630L of boot space available.
Features and Safety
Now lets take a look at the features that the C5 Aircross packs in. So you get an 8-inch touch screen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and android auto, panoramic sunroof in the shine variant, cruise control, air purifier, automatic headlights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, LED mood lights, Park assist, keyless entry with push button start, dual-zone climate control and more. It’s covered on the safety front too. The C5 gets a coffee break alert, blind spot monitoring system, hill decent and hill start assist, front driver, passenger and side airbags, curtain airbags, ESP and ABS.
Citroen is all set to launch the C5 Aircross in March and it will be launched in two variants, Feel and Shine. Now Citroen has gone in for the top down approach and it will bring in more affordable cars later but for now, the C5 will definitely convey to the masses what the brand is all about. And if the car wasn’t enough, Citroen also has a unique retail experience lined up with its La Maison Citroen concept which will make buying the car a unique experience and you can read more about in the link mentioned in the description.
Now back to the car, we expect the C5 Aircross to go up against the likes of the upcoming Volkswagen Tiguan and prices should start at around 28 lakh ex showroom. The C5 Aircross is stylish, it has presence, it feels luxurious and that ride quality is pretty good too. So if you are looking for a very stylish and premium SUV and comfort is right up there in your list of needs, the C5 Aircross has it all and more.
Pictures by Kapil Angane