2019 Citroen C5 Aircross Review
Paul Horrell’s 2019 Citroen C5 Aircross Review with Specs, Performance, Ride and Handling, Safety, Verdict and Score.
IN A NUTSHELL A family SUV that puts comfort and versatility at the top of the agenda, and makes a style statement while it’s at it. The statement being, you can look good without fake sportiness.
2019 Citroen C5 Aircross Specifications (European spec)
Price N/A Warranty 5 years/unlimited km Engine 1.6L petrol turbo Power 133kW at 5500rpm Torque 250Nm at 1650rpm Transmission 8-speed auto Drive front-wheel drive Body 4500mm (l); 1860mm (w exc mirrors); 2099mm (w inc mirrors); 1690mm (h) Turning circle 12.4m Towing weight 1500kg (braked), 750kg (unbraked) Kerb weight 1430kg Seats 5 Fuel tank 53 litres Spare Full-size opt Thirst 5.7 l/100km combined cycle
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The C5 Aircross comes to Oz in the latter part of 2019. Its philosophy and styling are broadly a scaled-up version of the C3 Aircross, which arrives here early the same year.
Citroen’s greatest hits in the distant past always used technical innovation to bring superb comfort. Its recent success back home in Europe has been around MPVs. But the MPV market is collapsing as families move in droves to front-drive crossovers.
What is the Citroen C5 Aircross?
The aim of the C5 Aircross is to bring MPV-alike comfort and versatility to a mid-size crossover. So it’s got three separate rear seats that individually slide and recline. There’s a lot of flexible boot and cabin storage. The suspension uses special dampers – an idea borrowed from the firm’s Word Rally cars oddly – to improve ride comfort. The cabin is light, airy and roomy.
It’s a strict five-seater. It won’t get stretched to seven, and the company has the excellent C4 Grand Picasso for that.
Lots of crossovers use their styling to imply either off-road ruggedness or on-road sportiness – but then you realise they can’t cash those cheques. The Aircross makes no such pretence. Result is an individual and smart vehicle that avoids aggression, but isn’t babyishly cuddly either.
The C5 Aircross shares a platform, engines and underlying infotainment system with the Peugeot 3008. But they’re not just clones. Their characters are quite distinct.
What’s the interior like?
None of that ‘driver-oriented sporty cockpit’ guff here. The simple dash, with its horizontal padded section, and the flattish seat, look more like a booth table in a mildly trendy diner. There are some attractive light-hued cloth and leather schemes on offer too, getting away from the usual all-black. Not so light as to get all stained up in family use though.
But the seats are comfy. A layer of soft padding welcomes your backside when you sit down, but more firm and shaped stuff underneath supports you on long trips or in bends. On high-spec trims there’s even a comprehensive variable massage function, which gets quite kinky if you really crank it up.
In the back we find those three seats, in the manner of the most useful MPVs. They slide and recline separately, so everyone can suit themselves. They don’t come out altogether mind, but they do fold flat.
Leg and head room is pretty good for adults when they’re rearward, but if you’ve just got a small kid in one of the seats it can slide forward. That brings them closer to the front-passenger parent who’s on-demand peeling fruit for them. It expands the boot too.
The front has illuminated cupholders, a huge central bin under the armrests (also lit), decent-size glovebox and door bins and a wireless charge plate. If Citroen was really serious about this MPV business, there would be power outlets and seat-back tables for the rear passengers. But this is a cheaper car than the Peugeot 3008 or or VW Tiguan so there had to be savings. At least there are vents and lights out back.
The driver’s instruments are a big-screen system rather than actual dials, so you can prioritise areas of the screen for navigation view or trip computer or entertainment. There are two types of big speedo to choose from, but the biggest re-counter is only a weeny bar graph, because you aren’t supposed to be driving sportily.
What’s the infotainment like?
All versions have the big driver’s screen, plus an eight-inch central touchscreen. Resolution and response are average-to-good.
All versions get AppleCarPlay and Android Auto too, so unless you routinely drive in areas beyond the reach of cell coverage, there’s no need to step up to the built-in system, which is based on TomTom and has live traffic for main roads. It works smoothly and is pretty easy to fathom.
Citroen annoys us by putting almost all the climate functions onto the screen, so you have to hit the ‘climate’ key before you can begin to adjust temperature or flow or fan. It’s the same with the Peugeots that share this system, but while they use nice aluminium keys to do the job, the Citroen has a row of vague touch-switches that don’t look anything like as nice or give your fingertips any tactile satisfaction.
Still the music sounds satisfactory, with various ambiences to choose from.
What’s the performance like?
Citroen hasn’t announced final engine lineup for Oz. We tested the two most likely, a 1.6-litre turbo petrol making 133kW, and a 130kW two-litre diesel, equipped to meet the very latest emissions standards. Both come with an eight-speed auto as standard. They’re both pretty quiet for their type.
The petrol hits 100km/h from rest in 8.2 seconds.
Unsurprisingly the petrol feels the more awake of the pair, willing to rev and responsive when you do. But it also has reasonable lugging power low down. That said, as we noted in the 508 review, it’s just as well it’s quiet because its sound isn’t all that pleasant. Mind you, few rivals have anything much better. It also shifts gear a bit too often, so I found myself holding it using the paddles.
The diesel is bigger on mid-rev torque and calmer in its transmission strategy. It takes 8.6 seconds to get to 100.
What’s it like on the road?
Given the Aircross is supposed to be about comfort and giving passengers a good time, let’s look first at the ride. It’s pretty good, though not as great as promised.
The dampers add extra resistance progressively as the wheel approaches the limit of its travel, either when the suspension is compressed or extended. This means the springs can be extra-soft in the middle of their travel, where they usually sit. Sure enough on reasonably smooth roads the ride really is excellent, soft and cushioning. There’s also very little tyre or wind noise, so you move along in luxurious tranquility. The name Aircross seems to make sense.
But when the car hits a really sharp edge, like say a big pothole, a smack goes through the body. It’s not terrible, but you notice it all the more because otherwise things are so plush. Even so, we’ve driven the car on dirt roads and it was good.
No surprise that the cornering is also pretty, er, relaxed. It’s not just that there’s a lot of body roll. Citroen has set up the steering to be lighter in weight and gentler in response than other crossovers, especially the related Peugeot 3008.
Even so, the Aircross will plays nicely if you feed in the steering lock progressively. There isn’t much understeer.
This isn’t an off-roader. It’s FWD-only. But ground clearance is a decent 230mm and there’s an optional grip-control system that resets the ESP parameters for various surfaces, and adds hill descent control. Get that with all-season tyres and you’ll be good for tracks that aren’t too steep.
Top-spec versions get a lane-assistance and radar cruise package that works as well as other similar systems. It doesn’t imply it’s driving the car; it ensures you remain alert, but takes away some load of staying in station on a long highway run. Although there’s a camera to spot speed limit signs, it doesn’t adapt the cruise set-speed to match.
What safety features does it get?
There’s no ANCAP safety rating yet, but the closely related Peugeot 3008/5008 has scored five stars, with 86 percent adult protection and 85 percent for children.
Although there are three rear seats, only the outer two have full top-tether child seat mountings. The list of active safety features is pretty good. All models get active city braking and forward-collision warning as standard, and also blind-spot warning and lane-departure assist. Most have a reversing camera. But the standard headlights are only halogen, and there’s no opportunity to upgrade.