C5 Aircross
C5 Aircross . . . new take on an old theme.

What is it?

A good litmus test of any review car is the number of times you’re asked: what’s that? (and it was plenty)

The Citroen C5 Aircross is a headturner all right and is shaping up as as the best thing to come out of the French car maker’s factory in a long time.

It’s just as impressive inside too, with a fully digital, fully customisable dash and plenty of other reasons to get excited.

But it’s a Citroen right and in our week behind the wheel, we kept waiting for the catch, the deal breaker — but there’s isn’t one and the wife liked it too.

C5 Aircross
C5 Aircross . . . muscular rear haunches.

What’s it cost?

Prices for the five-seater start from $39,990 for the Feel or $43,990 for the Shine grades.

Both models are powered by the same 1.6-litre turbocharged engine and both are also equipped with an all-new suspension system that features what Citroen calls Progressive Hydraulic Cushions (PHC).

Cloth trim is standard with two-zone climate air and rear air outlets for back seat passengers.

The rear seats by the way can be adjusted individually, with slide, fold and incline adjustment — plus ISOfix points for each.

Citroen claims best-in-class boot capacity, with 580 litres that expands to 720 litres when the rear seats are pushed all the way forward.

The 12.3-inch instrument panel is fully digital with half a dozen different looks, including a setting that displays the navigation map directly in front of you — or it can be personalised the way you like it.

The big easy to use 8.0-inch touchscreen includes navigation, voice control, digital radio plus Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink (never been quite sure of the last one).

Other kit includes LED daytime lights, LED ambient interior lighting, auto lights and wipers with magic wash, plus an auto-dimming rear view mirror.

There’s also Speed Limit Recognition and Recommendation and Top Vision 180-degree parking camera with front and rear parking sensors and a powered wave-your-foot under the back tailgate.

Standard safety gear includes six airbags, rear view camera, Autonomous Emergency Braking (up to 85km/h), Active Blind Spot Monitoring, Active Lane Departure Assist and Four mode Grip Control.

Shine adds:

  • Citroen Advanced Comfort seats with electric driver’s seat
  • Combination leather and fabric-covered seats
  • 19-inch alloy wheels
  • Mobile phone wireless charging
  • Laminated windows and windscreen
  • Aluminium pedals
C5 Aircross
C5 Aircross . . . comfort seats.

What’s it go like?

C5 Aircross stands 4500mm long, 1840mm wide and 1670mm high, with 230mm of ground clearance, and sits on either 18 or 19-inch alloys depending on grade.

The Advanced Comfort seats are touted as a big deal and apparently draw on experience gained from the bedding industry for their design.

Foam of different densities and hardness is used depending on the role of the seat component concerned: support or cushioning.

Can’t say we noticed any major difference in the feel, but the seats in the back are a little on the small side.

They could seat only two adults comfortably and rear legroom is a tad limited too, even though you can slide the rear seats backwards.

Back seat passengers get air vents, but the aircon takes a bit to get going — and the separate recirc button is not apparent.

Decent sized lower door storage bins are a god-send.

Both Feel and Shine are powered by PSA Groupe’s 1.6-litre four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, with 121kW of power and 240Nm of torque — the latter available from a low 1400 revs.

It’s paired with PSA’s generic, full fluid 6-speed auto with steering column-mounted paddle shifters.

Grip Control offers four different mode settings, including snow, sand and mud.

But don’t be misled, because it’s not all-wheel drive.

It’s just designed to simulate all-wheel drive using the vehicle’s traction control system.

Citroen reckons it is up for light off-road duties, in part because of its modest 1430kg kerb weight.

Performance is surprisingly strong, provided you’re up it.

Sport mode helps and putting it in manual mode and using the change paddles provides ultimate control — but it seems to go just as well in Drive.

Under hard acceleration, the engine even produces a subdued and somewhat satisfying snarl.

The steering is overly light and responsive and pushing hard through corners produces a tendency to oversteer, even though it’s front-wheel drive.

The “hydraulic cushions” do a good job of isolating the bumps and the overall ride is very good, but there’s still plenty of body roll.

Weirdly, though Shine gets larger 19 inch wheels, it’s fitted with taller, narrower 205/55 series tyres — Feel gets 235s.

Although satellite navigation and speed sign recognition are part of the deal, unfortunately you don’t receive speed camera warnings.

With a 53-litre tank, it takes 95 premium unleaded and fuel consumption is rated at 7.9L/100km.

We were getting 8.4L after 400km.

C5 Aircross
C5 Aircross . . . fully customisable dash.

What we like?

  • Chunky styling
  • Flexible seating
  • Biggish boot
  • Customisable instrument display
  • Strong performance
  • Excellent fuel consumption
C5 Aircross
C5 Aircross . . . display the map in the instrument panel.

What we don’t like?

  • Awkward location of start button
  • Clunky gear selection
  • Bonnet release passenger side
  • Aircon takes too long to get going
  • Hand brake releases with a bang
  • No active cruise control
  • No speed camera warnings
C5 Aircross
C5 Aircross . . . rear seats are fully adjustable.

The bottom line?

I remember bumping into a colleague a while back who was surprised because he actually liked the Aircross.

I’m pleased to say I rather do too. The styling is “meatier” and more acceptable to the Aussie palette, but more importantly there’s nothing strange about it.

Yes, it’s a Citroen, but quirky it is not.

C5 Aircross
C5 Aircross . . . biggest boot in the segment.

CHECKOUT: Citroen C3 Aircross: Because you can

CHECKOUT: Different, but in a good way — Citroen’s C5 Aircross

Citroen C5 Aircross 1.6 Shine, priced from $43,990
  • Looks - 8/10
    8/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Safety - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Thirst - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Practicality - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Tech - 8/10
    8/10
  • Value - 8/10
    8/10
7.7/10
Citroen C5 Aircross: Quirky it is not

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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