In case you felt you didn’t have enough choice when it comes to choosing a mid-sized SUV, there is another model that has just placed its best foot forward. The French-built Citroen C5 Aircross is the name. It continues the nameplate after the C5 sedan was recently retired.
Citroen claims it has developed the C5 Aircross with practicality as the top priority – and it shows. There’s a huge boot, many storage options, and versatile rear seats to play with. It also portrays a funky design that differentiates itself from the rest of the pack.
The lineup is basic in Australia. We can choose the Feel or the Shine. Both variants are fitted with the same turbo-petrol 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine matched to a six-speed auto. Sadly, only front-wheel drive is on offer. Prices begin at $39,990 for the entry Feel. We’re testing the Shine, which retails from $43,990 (plus on-road costs). This makes it quite affordable for a mid-size SUV.
2019 Citroen C5 Aircross Shine – THE SPECS
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder
Output: 121kW@6000rpm / 240Nm@9000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 19-inch alloy, 205/55
ANCAP: Four stars
Tare weight: 1420kg
Power-to-weight: 11.73:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 7.9L/100km
Economy during test: 8.5L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 53L/95 RON
Power efficiency: 15.31kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 4.35 seconds*
0-100km/h: 9.67 seconds*
60-110km/h: 7.09 seconds*
1/8 mile: 11.07 seconds at 107.5km/h*
1/4 mile: 16.95 seconds at 136.0km/h*
Max acceleration: 1.282g
100-0km/h braking: 3.07 seconds at 37.30 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.545g
Decibel at idle: 41*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 82*
Priced from: $43,990
* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different
2019 Citroen C5 Aircross Shine – THE PACKAGE
We really like the fresh and funky design of the C5 Aircross. It’s youthful yet practical. On the outside, we think the front follows similar design cues seen on the Renault Koleos, with a tall, rounded bonnet and high-sitting headlights that blend into a well-defined grille. The Shine has some cool red design craters throughout the exterior, adding flair. At the rear, Citroen gets trendy with some eye-catching ‘floating’ square-shaped LED taillights. They look like they are suspended away from the car. In white, as featured here, it all looks brilliant, with contrasting black areas and red highlights.
Round-corner squares seem to be the design theme throughout, and not just on the outside. The interior air vents, door trims and even the fonts of any of the text adopt the unique shape. But, in our opinion, there are too many hard plastics applied, making the interior feel less premium than it could be. Luckily, the vibrant seats grab your attention quickly. Again, they are refreshingly different to what we’re used to seeing here. They are made up of a hard-wearing fabric and leather, in multi-shade grey, reminding us of a trendy surf-branded backpack.
There are some giant door pockets and a huge centre bucket under the armrest to store your belongings. We love the look of the LED rings around the cup holders at night time, and the overall brightness and airiness in the front. On that note, the front row is the best place to be in the C5 Aircross. The front seats are beautifully soft and supportive for the longest of trips, helped by the use of “Citroen Advanced Comfort” memory foam, and a wide range of electronic adjustment for the driver. It’s also blissfully easy to get in and out of thanks to the perfect seat height and lack of side bolstering on the seats to shuffle over.
In the rear, you get versatile but firm, three-way split seats, giving you more options to drop down one, two or all three seats to increase the boot size. They also recline and slide on rails, individually. Although, it would be good if they could slide further back to give you more legroom in the rear, as it is a little tight for taller passengers. There is a small drawback to these flexible rear seats; unless you’re skinny, the seatbelt buckle digs into your derriere and it cannot be flexed around you.
Boot space is one of biggest in this market space, measuring 580 litres. It’s equal to the Toyota RAV4, but bigger than the Mazda CX-5 (442L), Nissan X-Trail (565L) and the Hyundai Tucson (488L). You can also increase it to 1630L if you fold the rear seats down. A 12V power socket is on the boot wall for your convenience, and there are tie-down hooks, and an adjustable boot floor.
Tech-wise, you get an 8.0-inch centre touch-screen that supports Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink. A word of warning for the techies out there; it can only read USBs formatted with the old-fashioned FAT32 file system. NTFS format cannot be read. You also get sat-nav, digital radio, wireless phone charging, a 12.3-inch TFT digital instrument cluster, keyless entry, electronic tailgate with foot gesture control, and auto wipers and headlights.
Safety-wise, the C5 Aircross Shine comes standard with forward collision warning with auto emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and departure warning, driver attention alert, a terrible quality rear-view and 180-degree camera, road-sign recognition, auto-steer parking, front and rear parking sensors, and 19-inch alloys. Unfortunately, ANCAP has only awarded four stars for safety. It would be nice to see adaptive cruise control thrown in as standard, too. It’s not available, even as an optional extra.
Citroen as a brand does not have the greatest reputation when it comes to servicing costs and reliability. But recent years have seen improvements made here. To convince us further, the French brand now offers five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Add to that, servicing is only required every 20,000km or 12 months, and Citroen is currently running a deal offering free servicing for the first three years.
2019 Citroen C5 Aircross Shine – THE DRIVE
Overseas, there are various engines to pick from. But here in Australia we only get the one four-pot 1.6L turbo-petrol engine for now. It’s not the most outstanding aspect of the C5 Aircross, to be frank. It produces a conservative 121kW of power and 240Nm of torque. This means it won’t blow your hat off, but it will keep up with everyday demands adequately. You do have to give it the custard on hills with a full load, or if you require a brisk overtaking move. Citroen claims 0-100km/h happens in 9.9 seconds, but our timing showed a class average of 9.67 seconds.
The six-speed Aisin-developed auto gearbox does its best to help move things along, but we could not overcome an unforgivable acceleration delay on take-off, or on re-acceleration at lower speeds. At first we thought it was a dual-clutch thing. But this is a conventional torque-converter auto. We put it down to the computer programming, which, knowing Citroen, has focused on comfort above all else. It causes you to become an erratic driver in our opinion, as it’s near impossible to conduct a smooth take-off. Very unpardonable.
For decades now Citroen has always focussed on creating a comfortable and soft ride in all of its cars. The C5 Aircross continues with this trend with a new “Citroen Advanced Comfort” hydraulic suspension setup that Citroen calls “Progressive Hydraulic Cushions”, or PHC for short. On the road, the Aircross is about as soft as they come. All bumps are glided over, and at highway speeds, the softness will send your kids to sleep.
But this means that in combination with the greater ground clearance, when you want to drive it fast around corners, you get a bouncy, leaning, pogo-stick-like experience. That acceleration lag and jerkiness mentioned also plays in with the soft and bouncy suspension setup to create a wishy-washy sensation. In fact, our Vbox Sport seemed a bit thrown off by this, returning an outlandish g-force reading of almost 1.3G during quick acceleration – that’s supercar levels. During braking tests the Vbox also showed a peak g-force of 1.5.
The C5 Aircross looks like a very competent SUV off-road on the outside. There are selectable driving modes for snow, dirt, sand, and steep declines. But we’re not sure how useful they would be given that power only goes to the front wheels. However, the Michelin tyres provide excellent grip, and the brakes feel very confident, refined, and don’t seem to fade.
Being a smaller four-cylinder engine might have you thinking the C5 Aircross will be frugal. Not so much. Like us, you might find yourself needing to push your right foot down more often than normal to get the job done. For us, this resulted in an average of 8.5L/100km, which is not too bad but not great for a 1.6. The official average is 7.9L/100km. It’s not the most economical, given the meagre engine performance, and given that it only weighs 1402kg. It also requires a minimum of 95 RON petrol, which will send your fuel price further north.
Look, we are being a bit harsh on the Aircross in the commonly tested areas. However, there are plenty of aspects to this SUV that really stand out. If you want a very comfortable drive, and we mean seriously relaxing, you won’t find anything in this class that does better. We also think the overall ambience and cartoonish nature of the design and features makes for a surprisingly entertaining drive. It puts a smile on your face. And not many SUVs in this otherwise boring segment can do that.
2019 Citroen C5 Aircross Shine – THE VIDEO
2019 Citroen C5 Aircross Shine – THE VERDICT
When we first laid our eyes on the Citroen C5 Aircross we were excited by the funky exterior design and playful and practical interior. If you don’t drive the car, it could be a great car. But when the wheels are rolling there are some unforgivable traits that can become elephants in the room. If Citroen improved the acceleration delay and jerkiness, offered a torquier engine, and released an all-wheel drive version, it would have created a much more attractive proposition for the typical buyers in this class – the just-revealed 165kW/320Nm C5 Aircross Hybrid promises just that (only 2WD), and is under evaluation for Australia.
And that’s the problem we think. It is quirky and very practical in some areas, and it is actually great value-for-money when you stack it up against the rivals, spec-for-spec. But unfortunately (for Citroen) most consumers in this segment in Australia want a sure and solid vehicle, even if it means being a bit boring.
– Fresh and funky design, inside and out
– Class-leading boot size and first row area
– Flexible rear seats
– Plenty of standard features
– Good value for money
– ‘Hydraulic Cushion’ suspension is comfortable but can seem overly soft
– No adaptive cruise control
– Front-wheel drive only
– 4-star ANCAP rating
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