Citroën C5 Aircross long-term test

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

Filming with the Citroen C5 Aircross

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 13,935 List price £35,395 Target Price £34,354 Price as tested £37,030 Test economy 38.1mpg Official economy 222.3mpg Private price now £22,915 Dealer price now £25,780 Running costs £477.93 (fuel), £24.40 (electric charging)

1 July 2023 – The 'comfort class' SUV

If you were searching the internet for a new Citroën C5 Aircross, you might quickly find first-page results proclaiming that you can "experience ultimate comfort" and that it is "the comfort class SUV." You might guess, then, that a lot of its maker's marketing activity is geared towards making the C5 appear as comfortable as possible.

For a cynic like myself, however, I know that adverts should rarely be taken at face-value. However, after four months and more than four thousand miles covered with the Citroën C5 Aircross, I’ve begun to think that, if anything, the Citroën is under-selling just how comfortable the C5 Aircross is.

C5 Aircross public charging

See, I like to think that during its time with me, I have subjected the C5 Aircross to a huge variety of journeys. I’ve munched through motorway miles, glided along B-roads, and sat in plenty of traffic in Croydon, inching my way to my destination. And whatever the situation, I’ve always been comfortable. The ride is like a pillowy-soft hug, and rarely gets upset even on our  battered UK roads. 

And it’s not just the ride which makes it comfortable, it’s the seats. They hold you in place along meandering country roads, and feel like couch for the motorway. I really believe that if you want to be in a family SUV which is significantly more comfortable than the C5 Aircross, then you’d have to spend a heck of a lot more money.

C5 Aircross reversing camera

While driving up the spiralling ramps of Heathrow short stay is dispatched without fear. Even though the C5 isn’t that wide a car, I’ve found the interior to feel wide and spacious. The reversing camera and wide wing mirrors make it easy to slot the C5 into tight spaces with ease.

My main bug-bear with the C5 Aircross though is to do with its brake pedal, which I’ve always found to be very inconsistent in its feel. I always seem to plant my foot to the floor without getting much of a response, then a few millimetres beyond that I’m pretty much performing an emergency stop. After four months with the car I still haven’t gotten used to it.

As a videographer, practicality is my main priority with any car. And as I've noted in previous reports, the C5’s 460-litre boot was extremely impressive. Even though it’s 80 litres down from the non-plug-in hybrid C5 Aircross, there was plenty of room in the back, with room under the floor to keep the charging cables at bay, and the helpful ability to slide the rear seats forward for a little extra space.

C5 Aircross sliding rear seats

Of course, one of the main reasons for me choosing a plug-in hybrid was the pleasant effect doing so should have on my running costs. Now, it won't surprise you to learn that I never got close to the car's official figure of 223.3mpg – doing so would mean I would have to spend the majority of my time running around on electric power – but even so, my final figure of 38.1mpg was a little disappointing. I did try and keep the battery charged wherever possible, but clearly not enough to bring my economy up beyond the realm of most mild hybrids.

Equally, I never got close to the 'official' electric-only 41-mile range of the C5 Aircross. The highest my range readout ever said was 17 miles, with the actual distance being closer to 13-15 miles. This was usually enough for a journey into London, but if I was unable to charge in the day, it wouldn’t bring me back home on electric power alone.

C5 Aircross home charging

Charging the C5 Aircross is fairly quick though. I was able to charge the C5 from my home wallbox in two hours, so I could get back on the road, while shorter charging stops at restaurants or the cinema would see my range replenished at every opportunity.

All things considered, then, I enjoyed my time with the C5 Aircross. Its quiet ride meant I always arrived at my destination fluster-free and ready to work, with all my camera gear safely stored inside its cavernous boot. And while it didn't slash my running costs to the extent I hoped, it still allowed me to do my bit for the planet by running on electric power where possible. As a videographer's assistant, it gets a passing grade from me.

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