New model aims to be most comfortable and spacious SUV in segment
Available from £23,225 for the entry-level Feel edition, the C5 Aircross is equipped with an eight-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument display, wireless smartphone charging and Citroen’s new Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension system as standard on all models. A total of 20 driver assist systems are included, too.
The Feel trim package comes with a 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder PureTech petrol engine in entry-level form, while a 1.5-litre BlueHDi diesel engine is available from £24,725, both of which produce 128bhp. Buyers also have the option of a 6-speed manual or EAT8 8-speed automatic gearbox.
Mid-level Flair trim starts at £25,325 with the manual gearbox, and automatic variants are an option from £28,425. A larger, 178bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine can be equipped from £30,325. Also available at this level is a contrasting black roof, and a half-leather interior.
A 1.6-litre PureTech petrol engine, offering 181bhp, is an option for both Flair and Flair Plus models.
The range-topping Flair Plus can be equipped with all engines, with top-spec models costing £32,725.
With grey cloth interior fitted as standard to cars with the Feel trim package, Flair and Flair Plus models can be optioned with Brown Nappa leather seats, alcantara seat backs, a two-tone leather steering wheel and a range of metallic and pearlescent exterior paint finishes.
It is the second model to receive Citroën’s new rally-derived Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension system, following the C4 Cactus, which aims to deliver “peerless comfort” while retaining the relaxed characteristics of the company’s long-standing hydropneumatic system.
The two-stage system has two hydraulic stops on either side, with one for compression and the other for rebound. According to Citroën, this results in “a magic carpet ride” even when driving over uneven ground. For major impacts, the hydraulic stops work with the spring and shock absorber to avoid jerky movement and unwanted bouncing.
Advanced Comfort upholstery, unique to the European-spec C5 Aircross, aims to further improve interior comfort with thicker, softer seat padding and greater adjustment. All three second-row seats are the same width, so the middle passenger has just as much room as the others.
Double-laminated front windows and engine bay soundproofing aim to reduce exterior noise, while an active air quality system uses an air-purifying carbon filter.
Citroën head of product Xavier Peugeot said this will make the C5 Aircross «the most comfortable SUV on the market», bringing “an all-new level of overall comfort” to the segment.
The C5 Aircross, which is 4.5 metres long and 1.84m wide, is built on the same EMP2 platform as PSA group’s other SUVs, the Peugeot 3008 and DS 7 Crossback, but with a 2.73m wheelbase that makes it larger than both the Qashqai and Ateca.
This gives the C5 Aircross the largest storage capacity of any SUV in the segment, according to Citroën, with 580-720 litres with the second-row seats in place. All three rear seats slide, incline and fold flat to provide a total 1630 litres of storage.
The production version of the C5 Aircross has been toned down from the concept, with Citroën’s signature airbumps being much less prominent here than they are on the C4 Cactus.
It has a front grille inspired by the China-only C6 saloon and cuts down on the amount of plastic on show to appeal to a Chinese audience, but it keeps an element of the side protection that made the C4 Cactus stand out.
Citroën head of design Alexandre Malval described the C5 Aircross as “an asserted design” that will “enable it to seduce customers in every market around the world”.
It also continues the trend for expansive personalisation options first seen on the C3 Aircross and C4 Cactus, with seven body colours, a choice of 17in, 18in or 19in alloy wheels and three colour packs to add contrasting highlights to the front bumper, Airbump side panels and roof bars.
A plug-in hybrid variant, a first for any Citroën, due in early 2020. It will be the only 4×4 model in the range; the current petrol and diesel variants are two-wheel drive only, but they include Citroën’s Grip Control system to manage traction across Standard, Sand, Off-road, Snow and ESP Off modes.
All C5 Aircross variants will be built in Citroën’s Rennes-La Janais facility, with cars arriving at dealerships in late 2018.
Behind the wheel of a C5 Aircross Prototype
We briefly drove the Aircross in prototype guise on a short, closed-course handling circuit comprised of smooth tarmac, cobbled roads and a fair few speed humps.
As with the C4 Cactus, it was impossible not to notice the extra padding in the Advanced Comfort seats as soon as we sat down: posterior-sinkingly soft at first, but with with sturdy side bolsters and plenty of under-thigh support.
On the move, the progressive hydraulic cushions helped the car glide over normal roads, with less vibration over rougher surfaces than traditional dampers. Unlike older Citroens, which were also renowned for their comfortable, floaty rides, the C5 isn’t upset by high-frequency bumps.
The system isn’t infallible, with speed bumps in particular still able to unsettle the ride, but for the most part it gives the C5 character unique amongst its peers.