Citroen's C5 Aircross is, according to its maker, 'the most comfortable SUV on the market'. Quite a claim, given that this isn't a large, luxury crossover but is targeted at family buyers currently considering volume mid-sized models in this class like Nissan's Qashqai and SEAT's Ateca. This revised version gets a more assertive look, higher equipment levels and a choice of conventional, mild hybrid or Plug-in Hybrid engines. Plus its smarter cabin is still one of the most spacious and flexible in the segment.
The legendary Citroen 2CV had a reputation for being able to comfortably traverse a ploughed field. That apart though, this French brand can't call on much customer recognition when it comes to vehicles cable of functioning off the beaten track. That has to change, given the current European obsession with SUVs and the company is depending on its Aircross range of models to convince customers of its crossover credibility. The first signs in this regard have been promising for the Gallic maker. The little C3 Aircross, launched in Summer 2017, has sold well in the small supermini-derived SUV sector. This family hatch-based C5 Aircross, which arrived here in 2018, has proved to be equally important. Citroen claims that it brings 'a fresh level of overall comfort' to the segment and there's an efficient range of engines that includes a petrol plug-in Hybrid version. Here, we look at the usefully updated version of this car announced in 2022, then embellished with a 48V mild hybrid 136 model in mid-2023.
This car's key differentiating point is the way it glides over bumps. That ability comes courtesy of its Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension system. This two-stage set-up features a couple of hydraulic stops on each side of the car, one for compression, the other for rebound. For major uneven ground impacts, the hydraulic stops work with the springs and shock absorbers to avoid jerky movements and unpleasant bouncing. Thicker softer seat padding also embellishes the impression of comfort. And double-laminated front windows and engine bay soundproofing play their part in reducing cabin noise Engine-wise, C5 Aircross are offered a choice of four quite different engines. The two conventional ones - a 1.2-litre PureTech petrol unit and a 1.5-litre BlueHDi diesel - both develop 130hp and both can be had with the option of the brand's smooth-shifting EAT8 8-speed autogearbox. The alternative units are electrified - of course. The most recently added powerplant is a mild hybrid version of the PureTech petrol powerplant we just mentioned, which gets a 48V battery that sends power to a 12bhp electric motor offering 55Nm of torque. The mild hybrid system works with a new six-speed dual clutch auto gearbox designed especially for it and offers 'Charge', 'Eco' and 'Power' modes. And has a 135bhp combined output (6bhp more than the non-hybrid petrol variant) with 230Nm of pulling power. At the top of the C4 Aircross range, as before, is a petrol/electric Plug-in Hybrid version, which combines the PureTech 180 engine and EAT8 auto gearbox with an 80kW electric motor, delivering 225hp of accumulated power. It's powered by a 14.2kWh battery and offers instantly available torque of 320Nm, plus an electrified EAER-rated driving range of up to 41 miles. Across the C5 Aircross line-up, there's no 4WD system offered, but buyers do get 'Grip Control with Hill Descent Assist', for extra front-driven traction in slippery conditions. There's also Hill Start Assist, to help you starting off up steep slopes. And Trailer Stability Control, to reduce trailer sway if you're towing. That's about as much as most likely buyers will ever need.
This C5 Aircross was revised in early 2022, borrowing some of the styling cues of the brand's executive C5 X as part of a refreshed exterior design, with a more vertical and modern front end that brought sleeker aerodynamics. The front grille was restyled and gained a revised version of the iconic Citroen logo, seemingly detached from the daytime running lights, with chevrons that appear in black lacquer in a chrome setting, this standing out overtly against the central grille. Around the car, extra glossy or anodised detailing has been added - in colours such as Glossy Black and Dark Chrome, all of it intended to demonstrate the model's more up-market positioning. The C5 Aircross shares the same EMP2 platform as the Stellantis Group's other mid-sized SUVs, the Peugeot 3008 and the DS 7. It's 4.5m long and 1.84m wide with a 2.73m wheelbase, so is a touch bigger than cheaper cars in this class like Nissan's Qashqai and SEAT's Ateca. The brand's signature 'Air Bumps' make an appearance just above the lower side sills, but they're toned down here, just as they are in the latest C4. Inside, front seat occupants get the brand's unique 'Advanced Comfort' seat design, which features a core of high-density foam and an additional 15mm top layer of textured foam to ensure maximum comfort and support for the driver and passengers. There's a 12.3-inch digital driver's display and a revised 10-inch high-definition touchscreen that's been positioned higher up on the dashboard to reduce stress by ensuring the driver keeps their eyes on the road. Nice touches include an active air quality system that uses an air-purifying carbon filter. This Gallic SUV's lengthy wheelbase translates into a cabin that feels significantly larger than that of most models in this class. In the rear, the car features three individual, same-width seats that slide, recline and fold flat. Not only does this mean that everyone on-board enjoys an exceptional level of comfort no matter where they sit, but it also creates the numerous possibilities for configuring the interior space. It means the boot can be increased in size from 580-litres, to 720-litres with the rear seats in place (petrol and Diesel variants), while Hybrid models offer from 460-litres, up to 600-litres. With the rear seats folded down, petrol and Diesel versions offer up to 1,630-litres of boot space, with up to 1,510-litres in PHEV versions.
Expect pricing fractionally above this car's cousin, the Peugeot 3008. Which means a £28,000-£38,500 bracket, spread across 'Sense Plus', 'Shine', e-series and 'C-Series Edition' trim levels. Even with base 'Sense Plus' trim, owners benefit from features including 18-inch 'Pulsar' diamond-cut alloy wheels, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, Keyless Entry & Start and electric folding exterior mirrors. With 'Shine Trim', buyers enjoy the Drive Assist Pack with Adaptive Cruise Control, Advanced Comfort Seats with Alcantara upholstery and Active Safety Brake with video and radar assistance, while the 'Urban Black' interior ambience brings an upmarket feel to the cabin. The 'C-Series Edition' sits at the top of the range. It has been tailored specifically for the UK market and gains a 'Perla Nera Black' bi-tone roof with an exclusive Anodised Bronze Colour Pack. There is also an opening panoramic glass sunroof, wireless charging and a motorised tailgate with hands-free access. Safety-wise, there are a total of 19 driver-assistance systems available across the range, including Highway Driver Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Active Lane Departure Warning. Buyers can heavily personalise their C5 Aircross, creating a model that suits them perfectly, primarily through Colour Packs which add flourishes to the front air intakes and the side Airbump panels. Four Colour Packs are available: Glossy Black, Dark Chrome, Anodised Bronze and Energetic Blue. There's also a wide choice of body paint colours intended to complement the more assertive look: Polar White, Pearl White, Perla Nera Black, Platinum Grey, Cumulus Grey and a fresh shade, Eclipse Blue.
Citroen's BlueHDi diesel and PureTech petrol engines have already proved themselves to be efficient and frugal in the brand's other models and that's carried forward here. The BlueHDi 130 diesel manages up to 145g/km of CO2 and up to 54.1mpg on the combined cycle. The non-electrified version of the PureTech 130 petrol unit puts out up to 148g/km of CO2 and up to 46.4mpg on the combined cycle. Choose the PureTech petrol engine in 48V mild hybrid form and efficiency improvements of up to 15% are promised. Expect around 50mpg on the combined cycle from this variant - and a CO2 return rated at 129g/km. Impressive engine technology also plays its part in this strong efficiency showing. The PureTech petrol Hybrid 136 model has a powerplant featuring over 40% new parts and can drive in town for short periods (or when doing parking manoeuvres) on battery power only. A digital display shows information on battery charge level, energy flow and a tachometer to show when the car is running 100% on electric power. To do better, you'll need the plug-in petrol/electric Hybrid version. This is WLTP-rated at 168mpg, with a WLTP emissions figure of up to 29g/km; and there's up to 41 miles of EAER-rated electrified driving range if you keep it fully charged. Whatever C5 Aircross you choose, garage costs can be kept in check by an affordable three year servicing plan that's available at point of purchase. Finally, there's the usual Citroen three year / 60,000 mile warranty.
In an SUV market as crowded as this one, any mainstream product simply has to bring something different to the table. Fortunately, this C5 Aircross has, its progressive hydraulic cushion suspension delivering a noticeable ride quality advantage over obvious rivals. Some of these handle better, but we think the way that this Citroen cruises over bumps and tarmac tears will be of more interest to likely family buyers. The updates we've covered here are welcome, but it's likely that this Gallic SUV will still remain quite a rare sight on our roads. Citroen hopes the availability of plug-in technology may get this car on to the radar of likely customers in the mid-sized family crossover segment. Anyway, it's refreshing to see this Gallic brand getting back to what it does best. This car stands out as a result. As it very much needs to.