Citroen C5 Aircross Test Drive Review
We do a detailed road test review of the Citroen C5 Aircross.
Car Tested: Citroen C5 Aircross Feel; Road Test No. 1284; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs 31-35 lakhs (est.)
Comfortable, practical and loaded with tech, the Citroen C5 Aircross is a great premium SUV
It is always a great feeling to see a new automaker entering the Indian automotive market. This time around, we have Citroen which is a France-based automaker, all set to launch their first product for India, the C5 Aircross. The Citroen C5 Aircross is a premium SUV that is going to rival the likes of the Jeep Compass and Hyundai Tucson. Yes, Citroen’s first offering for India is going to be a premium product, in a segment which generates limited sales each month, so it is going to be interesting to see how it pans out for this French automaker but that’s for later. Right now, we’ll check out the C5 Aircross and see what’s good and what’s not so good in it.
Exteriors – The Citroen C5 Aircross is a good-looking SUV that not only looks fresh but also quite youthful and quirky in a good way. The squarish front boasts of a neat design and the Citroen logo is integrated very nicely with the grille. The same design theme is carried over to the side which makes the car look much different than other crossovers and SUVs that we generally see. The rear of the C5 Aircross is flanked by large lights and if you see the general styling philosophy of the exterior, you’ll notice that there are some design elements that catch your eye, such as the silver-coloured trapezoid on either side, just below the front doors and more such things.
The C5’s fresh and quirky design has a lot of interesting design elements helping it stand out from the crowd of other SUVs
Overall, the Citroen C5 Aircross looks beautiful and breaks away from the recent trend of automakers giving their vehicles an “angry face”. The vehicle gets 18-inch wheels and even though this is an SUV, it does not look and feel like a full-blown sport utility vehicle; it actually feels like a large and premium crossover that sits perfectly in today’s urban world. The vehicle will be offered in two trims – Feel and Shine and our test car is the former which means it misses out on LED headlamps, a panoramic sunroof and a hands-free tailgate operation. The Feel variant gets standard halogen headlamps and I personally feel halogen headlamps do not suit a car (in context of aesthetics) which is expected to cost north of Rs. 28 lakhs. However, I did get a chance to drive the car after sunset for a couple of hours and I faced no issue with the throw of the headlamps and even the overall visibility. Goes without saying that the C5 grabbed a lot of attention on our roads because of its styling and since it is a relatively unknown brand for most people here. There are some nice colour options with the C5 and all of them (except black) are available in a dual-tone option too.
Interiors – There are a lot of things to talk about the cabin of the Citroen C5 Aircross with the first being the overall fit/finish and quality. Yes, the vehicle gets a pleasant vibe on the inside and overall quality levels are indeed good. There are some soft-touch materials inside but there are lots of hard plastics as well. Thankfully, the panels and components do not feel low-rent by any chance and the cabin feels well built. You get a dark colour theme on the dashboard and door pads while for the upholstery you get a mix of light and dark grey. You will notice some quirky design elements on the inside as well, especially on the door pads and it’s all tastefully done. Some of the ergonomics will take time getting used to, such as the start-stop button which is positioned behind the gear selector knob away from the driver. Also, this requires a long press not just while starting the car but also while switching it off, and a single tap on the button won’t do anything.
Well built cabin incorporates a funky design and yet there’s a lot of practicality on offer
What kind of features does the C5 Aircross get? You get standard stuff like an electric parking brake, keyless-go with push-button start, auto-dimming inside rearview mirror, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlamps in the vehicle and these are the things that you would expect in a vehicle of this segment. Apart from these features, the C5 gets an electrically adjustable driver’s seat and a fully digital instrument cluster. The C5 Aircross also gets front and rear parking sensors along with a rear camera while there’s no 360 camera present. You do get a top-view display though. The 12.3-inch digital display is crisp and there are a couple of different modes for the display like Dials, Minimal and Personal. If you select Minimal, you only get a digital readout of the speed and that looks cool! The infotainment system comprises an 8-inch screen with the usual connectivity options and 6 speakers. The sound quality is good and even the screen is quite fluidic but a touch too sensitive. There is a row of feather touch buttons just below the screen and you tend to hit your fingers on those buttons while operating the actual screen. It also takes some time to navigate through the menus and get used to the UI.
The seats on the C5 Aircross are one of the biggest USPs of this car. The upholstery is a mixture of leather and cloth. The foaming and bolstering are just spot on the seats are extremely comfortable. You get good support all around and even a long drive doesn’t tire you out. Things get even better at the rear where there is abundant leg space while headroom is also quite good. While most vehicles get a 60:40 split rear seat, the C5 gets three equal seats which can individually be folded, reclined and slid. There’s a sense of roominess in the cabin and you can travel comfortably. There’s no rear centre armrest but you can fold down the rear centre seat and use that to rest your arm. Rear seat passengers get AC vents and a single USB port.
The seats offer very good comfort and all the 3 rear seats can be folded, reclined and slid
All three rear seats get an adjustable headrest and a 3-point seat belt each. This layout boosts the practicality of the cabin and you can easily carry odd-shaped items in the car without causing discomfort to the rear passengers. The boot capacity stands at 580-litres with the rear seats in place, and slid all the way back. If you slide them forward, the capacity goes up to 720-litres and if you fold the rear seats down, a generous volume of 1630-litres is liberated. The C5 also gets enough bottle holders and cubbyholes in the cabin. Every door can hold a 1-litre bottle while you also get a couple of cupholders in the centre along with a very large storage area under the front centre armrest.
Performance – The Citroen C5 Aircross will be offered with a single engine for now, a 2.0-litre diesel unit delivering 177 PS and 400 Nm. Power is sent to the front wheels and AWD or 4WD isn’t offered even as optional. The engine clatter is quite prominent outside the car but not much of it is heard inside. NVH levels are indeed good and a lot of unwanted noise is filtered out. Outright performance is impressive and the 400 Nm of twist makes its presence felt as soon as you dab the accelerator. With a very minor hint of low-end lag, the C5 accelerates in a brisk manner and offers a good torque surge in the mid-range.
The torquey diesel engine offers great punch in the mid-range with minimal turbo lag
The SUV is in Normal mode by default and a long press on the Eco or Sport buttons allows you to switch through these respective driving modes. In Eco mode, power is generated in a very relaxed manner and I enjoyed driving the car in this mode. Yes, the lag is felt a bit more and the wave of torque isn’t as strong but if you’re in the mood to take it easy, you’ll like this mode. A significant difference is felt in Sport mode in which the lag is negated and throttle inputs feel more responsive as well. We got a 0-100 km/hr time of 11.08 seconds in Eco mode and 10.49 seconds in Sport mode.
The 8-speed automatic doesn’t get an S mode but there are paddle-shifters for you to take manual control of the gears. The gearbox is smooth and does its job fine, but it is not lightning quick. It is not very slow either and most people won’t even have a reason to complain as such. While the ARAI-rated fuel efficiency is 18.6 km/l, you can expect the real-world figures to hover between 12-15 km/l.
Driving Dynamics – The French really know how to tune the suspensions on their vehicles. We have seen it with Renault and we’re now seeing it with Citroen. The suspension has been set up in a fantastic way and the way this car glides over potholes at both low and high speeds is something that needs to be experienced. The suspension is silent and it eliminates potholes like anything. The ride quality actually gets better as the speeds increase and you don’t really need to slow down for unexpected potholes or even small and uneven speed breakers which the Aircross loves taking in its stride. Full marks for the suspension set-up on this car.
One does not even need to slow down on bad patches of roads, that’s how good the suspension setup on C5 Aircross is
The steering is another thing that’s worth a mention. It feels absolutely effortless at city speeds and it weighs up well as the speeds increase. It also offers a decent amount of feedback and doesn’t feel vague. The C5 Aircross boasts of good driving manners and remains firm and planted. Yes, body roll is felt and this isn’t a car meant to be pushed around corners but it doesn’t mind taking an occasional corner hard if you throw it its way. This vehicle gets disc brakes all around and while the stopping power is good, the bite from the brake pedal feels a bit soft at the start and then it starts becoming sharper. There’s no AWD as such but the C5 gets Grip Control which offers five modes – All Terrain, Traction Control Off, Snow, Sand and Standard.
Safety And After Sales Service – The Citroen C5 Aircross gets front, side and curtain airbags along with ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist, ESP, Hill Descent Control, Traction Control and even a Blind Spot Information System which is useful and works well on our roads. The C5 Aircross was crash-tested by the Euro NCAP and it got a 4-star rating for the standard vehicle and a 5-star rating for one with the Safety Pack. Initially, Citroen will have a limited number of sales and service outlets in the country and the number will gradually increase once they start offering more products.
Verdict – The Citroen C5 Aircross is indeed a very good product. The suspension is awesome and it lends the vehicle a very comfortable ride. The diesel engine has more than enough power while the cabin is brimming with practicality. The vehicle also gets a lot of tech. The C5 Aircross is a great car if you want something that feels a bit premium, is supremely comfortable and delivers good functionality and if you’re hunting for something in this segment, I’d say the C5 is a great rival to the Tucson and Compass.
What’s Not So Cool
Alternatives – Jeep Compass, Hyundai Tucson
Further Reading –