Citroën C5 Aircross long-term test review
Citroën's largest SUV is based on the same underpinnings as the What Car? Award-winning Peugeot 5008, but is it as easy to live with? We're finding out...
The car Citroën C5 Aircross Puretech 180 Flair
Run by Alastair Clements, special contributor
Why it’s here Citroën’s new entry into the congested large SUV market offers something different, with an approach that favours comfort over dynamic excellence
Needs to Offer more than just quirky looks and a supple ride. In this class, nothing short of brilliance will do
Price £28,330 Price as tested £29,050 Miles covered 3067 Official economy 28.7mpg (WLTP) Test economy 28.2mpg Options fitted Pearl White pearlescent paint (£720)
23 July 2019 – A design for life?
Styling is entirely subjective, but by the addition of a bit of rigour – asking every family member and friend who has come into contact with the car – I’ve concluded that the Citroën C5 Aircross is very good-looking. In a world of increasingly bland design, particularly in the ever-growing SUV market, it looks modern, distinctive and clearly a Citroën.
The latter point was highlighted when I set out to revive a much-missed friend’s 1982 Citroën GSA. Although the two designs are obviously generations apart, they share a family look with their rolled front ends and pronounced double-chevron grilles, and both look futuristic alongside their contemporaries.
Citroën claims that the C5 Aircross has ‘SUV presence without aggression’, and I can see what it means. For me, it works much better on my car than the smaller, slightly dumpy C3 Aircross. It can be personalised with up to 30 exterior colour combinations, too, and I felt a bit envious of a sister car I spotted in a showroom with its fetching red Airbump trims.
There is one problem, however, and it’s not one that I'd expected: other road users seem to miss the slimline front indicators. I’m not sure if it’s their high-level positioning or their relatively pale colour, but I’ve twice had a near miss on the same mini-roundabout, and I’m convinced it’s because oncoming cars simply haven’t noticed that I’m indicating.
Rather less frustrating are the wheels on my Flair-spec car. The 18in ‘Swirl’ diamond-cut alloys not only look superb but are also remarkably easy to wash – a rare treat when complex, multi-spoke rims are the norm.
The interior is just as bold as the exterior and, to my eyes at least, similarly successful. Everyone who has ridden in it thus far has commented on the comfort of the seats. “It’s like being driven around on the sofa,” says my wife. The combination of leather and two types of cloth is supposedly ‘inspired by quality luggage and the world of travel’, and while I’m not sure about that, it manages to avoid looking fussy and imbues the car with the quirky feel of classic Citroëns.
Once again, though, there are irritations. The infotainment system is generally good, but it’s infuriating that the touch-sensitive icons beneath the screen are sited on the shelf where you naturally rest your hand while inputting a sat-nav address – meaning it usually changes to a different menu halfway through.
There’s also the issue of quality. When the car arrived, I had concerns about the hard, scratch-prone plastics used on the dashboard and the dull thud of the doors, which I often have to check have shut properly.
And while the car is packed with great storage options, the glovebox is decidedly not one of them. It’s compact inside and flimsy outside – as proved by a colleague, whose enthusiastic tug of the handle was enough to break the mechanism inside. Sadly, it’s moulded into the lid, which meant a new glovebox had to be ordered.
No complaints about Citroën’s service, however. A quick call to my nearest dealer, Tates of Crawley, had me booked in, and service manager Tim Smith plumbed in the new unit swiftly.