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Used test: Citroën C5 Aircross vs Mazda CX-5 vs MG HS interiors

Which of these large SUVs makes the best secondhand buy: the comfort-focused C5 Aircross, the plush CX-5 or the generously equipped HS?...

Citroen C5 Aircross interior


Driving position, visibility, build quality, practicality

The MG HS is alone in having full electric adjustment for the driver’s seat. It’s comfortable and holds you in place well, but it’s mounted rather high in relation to the rest of the car, so you feel perched on top of it rather than in it. The pedals line up nicely, but the steering wheel is angled slightly towards the centre of the car. 

At least it’s preferable to the Citroën C5 Aircross, which has an overly flat seat, makes you feel perched right above the pedals and is the only one without adjustable lumbar support. That leaves the Mazda CX-5 with the comfiest driving position: everything is lined up neatly and there’s lots of adjustment in the seat and wheel.

The 12.3in digital instrument display that’s standard in the C5 Aircross allows you to see speed, revs, sat-nav and various other data in a variety of styles, but it’s not as clear as the CX-5’s simple analogue dials, which are augmented by a small screen. The HS gets a clear 7.0in digital screen as well as dials for speed and revs, and on balance, it's the best layout here.

Mazda CX-5 interior

The 8.0in touchscreen in the C5 Aircross is mounted high up and makes use of large icons, making it easy enough to see at a glance. It can be slow to respond, though.

The HS has the largest touchscreen here, at 10.1in, and the system is a doddle to use. It has crisp graphics and includes sat-nav and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring. That said, the menus can be tricky to fathom.

The CX-5 is the champ here, despite its touchscreen being the smallest at just 7.0in. You see, a large dial between the front seats makes the CX-5’s system the easiest to use. It’s helped by easily understandable menus, and the screen is positioned high up and is responsive to inputs. 

MG HS interior

So, what's visibility like? Well, none of these cars has particularly obstructive windscreen pillars, although the HS’s are the fattest. More of an issue is its low-mounted rear-view mirror, which blocks much of the diagonal forwards view of even slightly tall drivers. At least you get standard rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera. Front sensors aren’t available, though.

The C5 Aircross does better, providing a clearer forward view, but over-the-shoulder visibility isn’t great and it gets only rear sensors. The CX-5 has the biggest windows to give the best views and gets sensors at both ends, making it the easiest to manoeuvre.

There are big differences when it comes to interior quality, and the C5 Aircross has the highest concentration of hard plastics. The CX-5 is a cut above, with nicer materials and more precise switches. The real surprise is the HS – it has the most upmarket interior, with lots of leather and faux-leather, brushed metal-effect trims and plenty of plush plastics.

MG HS 2021 interior front seats

The HS’s high-mounted driver’s seat and standard panoramic roof mean it gives you the least head room. However, even a 6ft-tall adult won’t be brushing the ceiling. The other two cars can accommodate a particularly long-legged driver with ease too.

The HS is the most agreeable for rear passengers. There’s only a tiny floor hump for the middle person to straddle, along with the most leg room and plenty of head room. The only real gripe is that the floor is higher than in its rivals.

Rear leg room is tightest in the C5 Aircross, although the upright seating position means there’s still acceptable knee room, and the low, flat floor and individual seats make it the best for putting three in the back. However, there’s an awful lot of roof above the relatively small side windows so taller people get a view that’s part scenery, part headlining, making for a claustrophobic experience. 

Mazda CX-5 rear seats

As for the CX-5, it has the most head room by far, but knee room is only a bit better than in the C5 Aircross and there’s a large hump in the floor to make life awkward for the central rear passenger.

The CX-5 and HS both come with manually reclining rear seats in case anyone wants a snooze. The C5 Aircross wins the award for most flexible rear seats, though: its three equal-sized individual pews not only recline but also slide back and forth. They can be folded individually too. The CX-5’s rear seats are split 40/20/40 to fold down, giving you similar flexibility, while the HS makes do with 60/40.

Even with the rear bench slid all the way back, the C5 Aircross’s boot can take nine carry-on suitcases when its adjustable boot floor is in its lowest position. The CX-5 manages eight but has a fixed floor, leaving a fair load lip. The HS avoids the load lip issue because of its high floor, but that leaves room for just six cases.

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