Citroen C5 Aircross SUV (2018 - ) review
The C5 Aircross is a mid-sized SUV designed to compete against cars like the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Volkswagen Tiguan.
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.0
The C5 Aircross is an eye-catching, practical and comfortable SUV that deserves consideration from anyone shopping for a new mid-sized SUV. It’s not perfect, with iffy interior quality in places and an infotainment system that should be easier to use, but otherwise, it’s a car that’ll rightly appeal to a wide range of people.
- Comfortable ride
- Three proper seats in the back
- Plenty of features
- Interior quality could be better
- Infotainment system could be easier
- Reliability concerns
Interested in buying a Citroen C5 Aircross?
How good does it look?
Looks are always subjective, but the C5 Aircross is unashamed in standing out from the crowd with some eye-catching features, such as split-level front lights, optional coloured grille inserts and Citroen’s Air Bumps – plastic air-filled pockets – on the side to protect against minor dinks. It’s got high ground clearance and doesn’t really look like anything else on the market and, for some, that’ll be a major plus point. There are three trim levels to choose from: Feel, Flair and Flair Plus. Feel rides on 17-inch alloy wheels, while Flair upgrades to bigger, 18-inch wheels and front fog lights. The Flair Plus has big 19-inch wheels and a panoramic sunroof as standard, as well as high-tech Intelligent Beam headlights, which will automatically switch between high and dipped beam depending on the conditions and oncoming traffic. The C5 Aircross comes in white as standard, but there are several optional paint colours to choose from as well.
What's the interior like?
The interior of the C5 Aircross is similarly eye-catching in design, and available in a range of cloth and leather finishes on the seats. However, some of the materials used, and the finish on them, is a bit disappointing compared to rivals. Some cheap, flimsy feeling plastics are all too prevalent. On the plus side, the standard 12.5-inch colour screen that replaces traditional dials is suitably funky, and configurable in a number of different ways. It ties in with the infotainment system, operated through an 8.0-inch touchscreen and aided by an array of touch-sensitive buttons underneath. They’re not sensitive enough, unfortunately, so you find yourself jabbing a finger at them repeatedly in order to get your commands to register, and the on-screen menus are rather convoluted and confusing, too. However, you can get around the iffy operating system by using the Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink smartphone connectivity that comes as standard. The upgraded seats, which are standard on Flair and Flair Plus models, are very comfortable.
How practical is it?
If you’re after a mid-size SUV that majors on practicality, the C5 Aircross is definitely worth considering. For starters, the boot is huge, 580 litres in normal circumstances, but that can be boosted to 720 litres just by sliding the rear seats forward. What’s more, these three rear seats slide – not to mention recline and fold – independently of each other, giving you bags of choice about how you use the space available and boosting versatility. It also helps make the Aircross a car that will seat five people in comfort, rather than the normal situation where you have four comfy folk and one slightly squashed unfortunate in the middle. Fold all your rear seats down, and you cargo capacity jumps up to 1630 litres, which is more than you get in Citroen’s C4 SpaceTourer MPV.
There’s also plenty of storage in the cabin, with good-sized cupholders in the centre console and a huge cubbyhole under the armrest that’s also cooled by the air-conditioning system, making it ideal for drinks and snacks. The glovebox is big, too, and there are storage pockets in all four doors. All-in-all, this is one of the roomiest and most practical cars of its type.
What's it like to drive?
The C5 Aircross is a car that focuses unashamedly on comfort over handling, and it’s all the better for it. All versions feature the same suspension system that uses hydraulics to smooth off the effects of bumps and potholes, and while Citroen’s claims of a ‘magic carpet’ ride are pushing things a little, this is still a car that stays smooth and serene over all but the scruffiest of surfaces. And even when dealing with particularly nasty road imperfections, the car does a good job of minimising their effects.
What’s more, despite the focus on comfort, the C5 Aircross doesn’t disgrace itself when it arrives at a set of bends, either. Sure, it doesn’t feel as sharp or as pointy as many rival SUVs, but the body still manages to stay pretty controlled and stable, and grip levels are reasonably strong, too. The lights steering could inspire a bit more confidence, but it least it makes the car easier to park.
How powerful is it?
There are four engines available in the C5 Aircross, two diesels and two petrols. Both have the same output figures, either 130 horsepower or 180 horsepower. We’ve tried both the 180 horsepower engines so far, and both are pretty good. The diesel has more pulling power than the petrol, so feels slightly more effortless in its acceleration, but the petrol still does a commendable job of hauling the C5 around with a minimum of fuss. We’d suggest that if you’re likely to be doing lots of longer journeys, then the better fuel economy of the diesel would make it worthwhile, but for those that do shorter trips, the petrol should be more than sufficient. The 130 horsepower engines come with a manual gearbox if you want them, but the more powerful ones are automatic-only, and the eight-speed gearbox does a decent job of selecting the right gear for the situation at hand. That means you won’t often need – or want, frankly - to use the manual paddles that allow you to shift gears yourself.
How much will it cost me?
The C5 Aircross costs a roughly similar amount to the Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai Tucson – both very popular cars - but costs a wee bit less than the Volkswagen Tiguan. The Citroen also sits on a par with the Nissan and Hyundai on the strength of its resale values, and a little way behind the VW, which serves to even up the long-term running costs between the three. Choose your version wisely, though, and the Citroen’s figures for fuel consumption and emissions are markedly better than those of its rivals, giving it a very slight edge in overall running costs. Overall, then, the C5 Aircross should prove to be a sound financial bet.
How reliable is it?
As the C5 Aircross is a new model, there’s no specific historical data to look at yet. But unfortunately, Citroen as a brand doesn’t have a good record for reliability in recent years. The 2018 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study ranked Citroen fifth from bottom of all the manufacturers, with a score considerably below the industry average. This represents a fall from sixth worst in 2017. Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index, which also ranks manufacturers, paints a slightly rosier picture with Citroen in a solid mid-table position, but this uses data from older cars that are out of the factory warranty. If something does go wrong with your C5 Aircross, Citroen offers a two-year, unlimited mileage warranty, with a third year added by the dealer, limited to 60,000 miles.
How safe is it?
The C5 Aircross has achieved the full five stars in crash tests by safety organisation Euro NCAP, and that’s no surprise given that the car comes with a huge list of safety features as standard. This includes automatic emergency braking, traffic sign recognition, a lane departure warning system and blind spot monitoring system, while Flair and FlairPlus models come with Citroen’s ConnectedCam, which is an inbuilt dash-cam. It’s an option on the Feel model. All cars have front, side and curtain airbags and three Isofix child-seat mounting points (two in the back and one in the front passenger seat).
How much equipment do I get?
All models of the C5 Aircross come well equipped as standard, with features such as cruise control, DAB digital radio, two USB chargers and Bluetooth included. Dual zone climate control is also included, as are automatic windscreen wipers and rear parking sensors. Upgrade from the Feel model to the Flair and you’ll get grey leather upholstery (or cloth if you’d prefer), front parking sensors and a reversing camera, as well as automatic parking and satellite navigation, as well as electric driver’s seat. Go for the Flair Plus model and it’ll come with keyless entry and start, a hands-free boot lid that you can open by waving your foot under the rear bumper, and some mood lighting inside. A smartphone wireless charging plate is also included.
Like all the best family SUVs, the Citroen C5 Aircross provides lots of space and practicality, along with a comfortable and reasonably quiet driving experience. It also provides lots of equipment – both luxury and safety – for an attractive price. Where the Aircross does things a little differently to the rest, though, is with its quirky styling, and that on its own will be enough for many buyers to sign on the dotted line.