Family life endures a lot and so must their choice of car, writes Robin Roberts.
The Citreon C5 Aircross replaced the smaller C4 and was designed, engineered and is marketed as a more sophisticated model for today’s market. That seems to have clicked with buyers.
Just six months after its UK launch the C5 Aircross passed 50,000 unit sales, a remarkable achievement in a tough British market. In September 2019 when the British market contracted 2.5% over the first nine months, Citroen saw registrations improve 2.6% and 98% of models ordered were the higher two specification levels which helped the C5 Aircross to become Citroen’s second best seller in Britain.
How it has achieved this rate of growth is open to debate but what is not disputed is the very wide choice of colours and packs to personalise together with a reasonable selection of interior colours and materials. It is, compared to many rivals, a highly personable package for any owner or driver to specify.
On today’s busy roads and streets a wide range of safety systems and driver aids will have strong appeal to families. It has secured 4 and 5 stars in Euro NCAP tests depending fitted features. There’re 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and the latest 8-inch HD touchscreen with ConnectedCAM Citroën and Wireless Smartphone Charging.
There is an array of 20 safety and driver assistance technologies, including Advanced Active Safety Brake, Active Lane Departure Warning and Active Blind Spot Monitoring, all of which are standard equipment.
New Citroën C5 Aircross SUV is available with Grip Control and Hill Descent Assist for off-road adventures in complete safety. New C5 Aircross will be the first Citroën model with PHEV Plug-In Hybrid technology, arriving in early 2020.
There are about a dozen derivatives of the C5 Aircross, based on four 130 or 180 petrol and diesel engines with manual or automatic transmissions and in three trim levels.
Our test car is the mid-range choice for those who want useful long range economy on journeys, a good level of equipment and is comparatively cheap to run. Petrol engines are steadily gaining popularity over the diesel equivalents but serious high mileage or long life users are still probably better off with a compression ignition engine, and it helps if you are regularly running with a load or lot of people as the diesel’s flexibility smooths away the miles.
You can go for the slightly peppier 180ps version if you prefer to improve acceleration but the 130ps is really no slouch.
The test car was fitted with the meticulously engineered and developed eight-speed automatic transmission and that’s perfect for the 130ps engine to utilise and for the driver to enjoy.
Changes up and down are almost imperceptible, quick and quiet and there always seems to be something in reserve.
I would have liked stronger acceleration from the engine which took a few moments to get going but in traffic and running mid-range it provided reasonably good acceleration for overtaking and it covered motorway miles without fuss or noise.
The steering was fine on main roads but lacked feedback on twisting sections or country roads and this contributed to a soft edge to the handling most of the time. Brakes were good at all times.
I would have been happier with a smoother ride when I read the C5 Aircross is the first Citroen to be fitted with their Progressive Hydraulic Cushions but I think that was down to the 205/55R 19V tyres fitted more than anything else, but there may be room to fine tune the system’s responses.
Secondary controls were all very good, well placed, silent and identifiable at a glance and it must be said the massive 12.3-inch customizable TFT instruments display was eye-catching as well as very practical and easy to use and matched with a central 8-inch touchscreen for infotainment, but that soon showed finger marks.
Temperature controls were slightly fiddly to use but the system had a wide range, good distribution spread and strong output, backed up by powered windows and a massive glass sunroof, so it will be popular with families.
You could easily load items from the back with its high-lift fifth door or the sides and their wide opening door, and that is not always possible with some shorter SUVs and MPVs. Once inside, the seats really wrap around you and cushion you with only the tallest occupants possibly finding thigh support on the short side.
The C5 Aircross offers a good riding position to see what’s ahead or over hedges and it came with some of the brightest lights I have seen on a modern car, big wipers and powerful wash system.
You feel very much in command behind the C5 Aircross wheel so long as you remember this is not a hard edged SUV.
It generally coped well with a variety of road surfaces but struggled over some bumpy sections and you could hear the system working away and occasionally felt the bumps and ridges.
The test car easily returned good economy and sometimes edged just over 50mpg but a few quick journeys and some busy traffic took down the overall figure, although it’s still respectable.
Considering everything, I think the Citroen C5 Aircross 130 is really a good all-round modern MPV rather than a marketeers SUV. My advice is to go for the most suitable options you want to meet your individual requirements and you’ll have a friend of the family you’ll find difficult to ditch.
|FAST FACTS||Citroen C5 Aircross Flair BlueHDi 130 A|
|Price: £30,355 as tested||Mechanical: 129bhp 4cyl 1500cc T-diesel, 8sp Auto|
|Max Speed: 117mph||0-62mph: 11.8 sec|
|Combined MPG: 45.5mpg||Insurance Group: 17E|
|C02 emissions: 108 g/km||Bik rating: 29% ,£160FY, £145SR|
|Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000miles||Sizes: L4.50m, W2.10m, H1.67m|
|Bootspace: 580- 1630 litres||Kerb weight: 1430kg|
For: Smooth gearchange, good economy potential, roomy and versatile, excellent seats
Against: Road noise and slightly bumpy ride, spongy handling, vague steering, modest acceleration average warranty.