Citroën C5 Aircross long-term test: report 2

Citroën's family SUV has been upgraded inside and under the skin. But what's it like to live with? We're finding out...

C5 Aircross at public charger

The car Citroën C5 Aircross Plug-in Hybrid 225 Shine Run by Kiall Garrett, senior videographer

Why it’s here Can the C5 Aircross PHEV be practical and efficient enough to cope with a What Car? videographer's shooting needs?

Needs to be Have impressive fuel economy on long motorway and town journeys to shoots, while having enough space to store lots of camera equipment

Mileage 10,537 List Price £35,395 Target Price £34,354 Price as tested £37,030 Official economy 222.3mpg Test economy 53.2mpg

23 April 2023 – Expensive electricity

There’s nothing quite like a spontaneous decision to go to the cinema on a Sunday afternoon. Instead of sitting at home watching TV, I decided to take a trip to the local cinema to see Nicholas Cage as Dracula. And, like Dracula, I’m finding my Citroën C5 Aircross to be a little thirsty. My plug-in hybrid Aircross brought me to the local picture house, which, rather conveniently, has five Pod Point chargers in the car park (unfortunately only three of which worked).

C5 Aircross PHEV public charging

Now, because I am unable to charge my C5 Aircross at home, this gave me the opportunity to put some juice into the battery while I sat in a comfy cinema seat for a couple of hours. After a quick McDonald’s stop after the film, I returned to find that the C5 Aircross had gone from fully depleted to a 68% state of charge.

Officially, the charging time is six hours from a 3kW charger. So 68% was a fairly decent boost in charge, although it’s clear that plug-in hybrids are not built for quick top-ups. Even if I’d seen Gone with the Wind, I wouldn’t have got much more charge.

C5 Aircross EV range indicator

But the bigger disappointment to me was that the range indicator was saying I had only 14 miles of electric range. The official range from a full charge is 41 miles, although we all know those figures are some way from being realistic.

And the final nail in Dracula’s coffin was the cost of all this. The privilege of charging at my leisure cost me £3.05.

That doesn’t sound like much. But to get only an indicated 14 miles of range – which in real-world use will be more like 10 miles – is not a good deal at all. In fact, 30p per mile is roughly three times the fuel cost for a relatively efficient petrol engine. Of course, if I had the ability to charge at home, the cost would have been much less – and would make a plug-in hybrid a lot more desirable.

C5 Aircross charging port

But a big positive of charging the battery is the electric driving experience you get in return.

On pure electric power, the C5 Aircross is smooth, swift and quiet – but this pure electric experience is all too short and, when using a public charger, too expensive.

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