The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
If you’re around average height or above, the chances are you’ll find the pedals, steering wheel and seat well-positioned. Those of a particularly diminutive stature might feel they’re perched over the pedals as if they were playing a pipe organ; this isn’t an issue in the Mazda CX-5 or Peugeot 5008.
You’ll need to upgrade to Flair trim if you want posher leather seats with adjustable lumbar support, and these are certainly comfy on a long journey, but there’s very little side support in bends.
Just like the Peugeot 5008, the C5 Aircross doesn’t have physical controls for its air-conditioning; you have to use the 8.0in touchscreen to make adjustments. That’s fine and dandy when you’re stationary, but far more distracting than physical knobs and buttons when you’re driving.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
First the good news: you sit nice and high up in the C5 Aircross, and this combined with unobstructive windscreen pillars means you get a good view of the road ahead. Unfortunately, the C5’s quirky styling employs small side and rear windows with thick pillars at the back of the car, and these features conspire to make it trickier to see out of than more conventionally shaped rivals with bigger windows, such as the Peugeot 5008 and Skoda Kodiaq.
Thankfully, all versions of the C5 Aircross get rear parking sensors as standard, while you can pay extra to add front sensors and a reversing camera. You get both of those things as standard on mid-range Feel and range-topping Feel Plus trims.
All models get automatic lights and wipers, with Flair Plus adding automatic auto-dipping headlights. Disappointingly, you can't have modern LED headlights on the C5 Aircross – even as an option.
Sat nav and infotainment
You get all the connectivity you really need with entry-level Feel trim, including a DAB radio, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring so you can control certain apps on your phone relatively safely on the move. Move up to Flair trim and you also get a built-in sat-nav with voice recognition, plus wireless phone charging.
All versions have an 8.0in touchscreen that’s essentially the same one you get in a Peugeot 5008. As with that car, though, it can’t match the ultra-crisp, bright graphics of the touchscreens in the rival Seat Tarraco or Skoda Kodiaq.
The systems in those cars are easier to use, too. The C5’s sub-menus have small icons that are tricky to hit with any confidence when you’re driving and, after pressing the screen, you’re often left waiting a while for it to react. We prefer the responsiveness of the Kodiaq’s touchscreen or, better still, a rotary controller interface like the one in the Mazda CX-5.
Were we to base this section on looks, the C5 Aircross’s interior might score quite well. But we don’t, because judging design is your prerogative, not ours; we’re all about the function and feel of fixtures and fittings.
Step inside and you’ll find a few soft materials, including a leather-look finish to the dashboard with matching accents on the steering wheel and gear lever gaiter. However, while gloss-black trims around the air vents and centre console lift things further, things are let down by scratchy plastics on the doors and around the base of the gear stick.
Most of the C5 Aircross’s rivals have classier materials in their interiors that deliver something more akin to a premium feel. The Peugeot 5008, for example, backs modern interior looks with much more substance. Even the cheaper MG HS has the Aircross licked for quality.
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