2020 Citroen C5 Aircross 1.2 Puretech 130 EAT8 review price, specs and release date

The Citroen C5 Aircross 1.2 Puretech 130 is now available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, is it worth the extra over the manual?...

2020 Citroen C5 Aircross driving front

Priced from £28,335 | On sale Now

Don’t allow familiarity to breed contempt. Think of it instead as knowledge, to be used wisely. Take football. It’s called the beautiful game and, if you’re familiar with it, you’ll know to watch Barcelona, not Burnley, if you want to see it played at its prettiest. In case you’re wondering, Burnley will demonstrate hard-edged northern grit.

Cars are the same. Different manufactures have different strengths, and anyone searching for quirky styling and a squidgy ride should check out the Citroen C5 Aircross – those being Citroen’s specialities, you see. What you might not know is that now the best engine in the range – the 1.2 Puretech 130 petrol – has just been made available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. We’ve been familiarising ourselves with it to see if the pairing is good.

2020 Citroen C5 Aircross rear static

2020 Citroen C5 Aircross 1.2 Puretech 130 EAT8 on the road

This is a large SUV, so don’t go expecting 129bhp to present a seismic surplus of speed: you’ll be left wanting. But this automatic version is quicker, its eight gears helping to knock a couple of tenths of a second from the 0-62mph time of the six-speed manual version. Even so, it’s not as lively as a Skoda Kodiaq 1.5 TSI 150 DSG.

Still, if you’re not a tearaway it’s perfectly adequate. Surf the engine’s low-end shove for easy progress around town, and it’ll meander up to motorway speeds merrily enough. It’s only when you need that sudden burst of power – for overtaking on a country lane or pulling you up a steep incline with the family on board – that it may be found wanting, even with the accelerator pedal nailed firmly to the floor.

And when you do that the turbocharged three-cylinder engine emits a noticeable thrum, but the rest of the time it stays very much in the background. Indeed, with low levels of wind and road noise at 70mph, this is a more relaxing long-distance machine than the noisier Honda CR-V.

Swerving the manual C5’s vague gearshift and springy clutch rewards you with smooth gear changes from this automatic. Okay, it’s not the most responsive auto ‘box when compared with the Volkswagen Tiguan’s dual-clutch equivalent, but the momentary pause when you kick down isn’t so pregnant as to be frustrating, and it's less jerky at parking speeds than the Tiguan.

The ride also fits the car’s generally laid back attitude. It’s about as soft as you’ll find among its peers, and much more absorbent over big bumps than the sportier Mazda CX-5, and also less unsettled on motorways. The only time we felt any noticeable thudding was if the sizeable 19in wheels fitted to this top-spec Flair Plus ran over a particularly punitive pothole.

That oh-so-soft suspension does mean some side-to-side sway over undulations. It’s very gentle, though, in the manner of a tree branch moving lightly in a breeze, and not the rather aggressive tossing motion that we experienced the latest Ford Kuga PHEV.  

Just don’t buy a C5 Aircross expecting anything remotely sporty. The steering is light and accurate enough and there’s plenty of grip, but there's more body lean and less agility than the handling heroes of the class, such as the Tiguan and CX-5.

2020 Citroen C5 Aircross front seats

2020 Citroen C5 Aircross 1.2 Puretech 130 EAT8 interior

The C5 has a fine driving position, with loads of adjustment to its steering wheel and driver’s seat, which, for this top-spec Flair Plus trim, is electrically operated. There’s also adjustable lumbar support, and the seat is so squishy it’s like parking your backside on a sumptuous sofa stuffed with the finest duck down. It doesn’t offer a lot of side support in corners, though.

Visibility is decent and all models come with rear parking sensors, which is extended to front sensors and a rear-view camera from mid-level Flair trim. The infotainment system isn’t nearly as responsive or easy to master as a Skoda Kodiaq’s, but thankfully Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included. As a result, you can bypass Citroen’s software and use your phone’s apps instead.

There are fewer supple materials than you’ll find in a Ford Kuga but on the whole it looks and feels better screwed together. It’s nothing like as high-end as the classy CX-5, mind, but it is as roomy, with space for up to five six-foot occupants. Roomier rivals are available, including the C5’s sister car, the excellent Peugeot 5008, which comes with the same engine and gearbox combination, the same useful sliding and reclining rear seats, but more rear leg room, seven seats as standard and a bigger boot. That said, the C5’s boot isn’t small; we were able to fit nine carry-on cases below its tonneau cover.

If you want more details on the interior and the sensible stuff, like running costs, have a look at our main Citroen C5 Aircross review. Or, to see how much you could save on a new SUV, check out our New Car Buying service.


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