Citroen’s mid-size family SUV has received a midlife facelift, but can the changes translate into sales? Here are five things you should know about the C5 Aircross Sport.
In the crazy Citroen world, it’s a bit bland
It’s less vanilla than most mainstream medium SUVs, yet the C5 Aircross isn’t as extroverted and quirky as we expect of Citroen. Think of the bonkers 2CV, C3 Pluriel and C4 Cactus as examples. Gone are the two-tiered headlights and popping colour air ducts of the pre-facelifted C5s, with Citroen declaring the new car’s styling “more structured”. We want wild exhibitionism, not structure! Little LED strip lights running from the headlamps to the chevron logo are lovely, while 19-inch black alloys, bubble-shaped side Airbumps and a black roof show panache. But body colours are more wet English weekend than French joie de vivre. Choose from black, dark blue, grey or white. The cabin? Black only. Why so serious?
Citroen asks plenty for such exclusivity
The sole variant is a $54,990 Sport grade, meaning the drive-away price nudges $60k. Mid-size SUV price rivals include a top-spec Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-Trail, Toyota RAV4 and VW Tiguan 162 TSI – quality abounds there. Four years ago, when the C5 Aircross launched from $39,990, I called it expensive. This new one may have more performance and specification, but 2023’s price looks even more challenging. If exclusivity’s your thing, though, look no further. Last year Citroen sold just 65 C5 Aircrosses, out of 296 vehicles in total. Australians bought twice as many Maseratis last year. You won’t be a sheep.
It’s as comfy as plunging into fluffy pillows
Whoever is head of cosiness at Citroen needs a pay rise. To drive or be driven in this thing feels like a blend of soothing massage, meditation and business-class seating. If you enjoy Zen-like driving, embrace the cabin silence, sublime bump absorption, one-finger steering lightness and plush perforated Nappa leather seats. Chairs use mattress-like foam padding to help you sink in. They are also power adjustable, heated and – for the driver – massaging too. You’d love them in your lounge room. Also impressive is the “progressive hydraulic cushion” suspension, originally developed for Citroen’s rally cars to eliminate bouncing. Consider your derrière suitably spoiled.
Putting a Sport badge on it is comically false advertising
A turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol offers 133kW and 250Nm, pulling you to 100km/h in 8.2 seconds. As far as sport goes, that’s lawn bowls. An eight-speed auto gearbox shows no athletic intent at low speeds, with response laborious unless in Sport mode. Citroen’s correctly tailored the C5’s handling for lounging family duties, so it feels slightly wobbly when cornering at speed. Combined fuel economy of just 5.7L/100km is pleasingly non-sporty, although our test returned a thirstier 7.2L/100km.
Value for money remains Citroen’s undoing
For $60,000 in the traffic, you’d want the C5 Aircross to have few compromises. Okay, there are strong points. It’s stylish, has advanced safety, the turning circle’s great, the boot’s huge, there’s a panoramic sunroof and the dashboard houses goodies such as a 10-inch infotainment screen and 12.3-inch digital driver’s display. But the rear space trails key rivals, some controls are fiddly and tech such as a head-up display and connected services are missing. There’s wireless charging, but you must plug in for CarPlay and Android Auto. Spoiling the perception of luxury are thin, flexing plastics in the doors. A $2000 five-year service plan’s reasonable, but it can’t help you overlook a purchase price that feels $10k overcooked.