The Citroen C5 Aircross is impressively comfortable but you’d never call it fun to drive and the automatic gearbox can be slow to respond
You can get the Citroen C5 Aircross with two petrol and two diesel engines, and with either a manual or an automatic gearbox.
The most affordable models come with a 130hp petrol engine that’s most at home pottering around town. It won’t feel particularly fast, but it’ll be the cheapest version to run if you mainly do short trips or spend a lot of time in heavy traffic. It’s the only Citroen C5 Aircross that you can’t get with an automatic gearbox – instead, it comes as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox.
There’s also a 130hp diesel engine that’ll be worth considering if you do more driving on motorways and you’re sticking to a tight budget. It won’t be as nippy as the petrol engine, but It’ll cruise along quite comfortably at 70mph and won’t cost as much to run. It’s available with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox. The latter does a good job blending each gear together but is a little slow to respond if you put your foot down.
Unlike many SUVs, the Citroen C5 Aircross doesn’t try to feel sporty to drive, instead, it focuses its efforts on being as comfortable as possible
The more powerful 180hp petrol and diesel engines are more expensive, but they’ll be noticeably faster and feel less strained when you accelerate hard to join a motorway or overtake slow-moving traffic.
The 180hp petrol is impressively quiet and has a decent turn of speed, but you’ll need to rev it more to accelerate as fast as the more relaxed 180hp diesel engine. The diesel models are also very quiet, especially at motorway speeds where they produce almost no noise or vibrations at all.
If you enjoy serious off-roading, bare in mind the Citroen C5 Aircross doesn’t come with the option of four-wheel drive. You can, however, spec the optional Grip Control which comes with a rotary dial that lets you choose between off-road driving modes and what it does is it uses the car’s ABS and stability control system to give you just the right amount of grip, to stop you from getting stuck. Think of it as a last resort rescue, rather than something that transforms the C5 Aircross into an off-roader.
The Citroen C5 Aircross is very easy to drive. You sit high up and the large windows give you a good view out over other cars. The rear windscreen’s quite narrow, but you won’t have too much trouble parking thanks to the light steering and (albeit rather low-resolution) reversing camera you get as standard in Flair and Flair Plus models. Manoeuvring through tight city streets can be tricky at times, but no more so than in any mid-size SUV.
The Citroen C5 Aircross’ suspension does a very good job of ironing out bumps thanks to a clever kind of shock-absorber that you won’t find in many alternatives. It does an especially good job of absorbing the jarring thud you’ll often feel if you don’t spot a pothole until too late, and it evens out the rumbling you’ll sometimes feel when driving over rough or pitted road surfaces. As a result, the Citroen C5 Aircross is more comfortable and more relaxing to drive than most family SUVs.
A side effect of its soft, cosseting nature, however, is that it tends to lean and wallow in tight corners. It’s not quite enough to make your passengers feel car sick, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near as nimble as the SEAT Ateca when you’re carving through a series of twisting turns.
If you spend more time on the motorway than country lanes, however, you’ll appreciate how quiet the Citroen C5 Aircross is at speed. Sure, you’ll hear some noise from the tyres, but almost no wind or engine noise makes its way into the cabin when you’re cruising along.
Also helping to make the Citroen C5 Aircross very relaxing to spend time in are its many driver assistance systems. Blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and automatic emergency braking that’ll help prevent avoidable collisions come as standard on every new Citroen C5 Aircross and should also help it score highly when it’s crash-tested by Euro NCAP.
To really take the sting out of long journeys, you’ll want to pick a Flair Plus model. These come with adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist that’ll brake, accelerate and even steer for you on well-marked roads – providing you keep your hands on the steering wheel.