Review

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.

Words by: First published: 16th November 2018
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.1
The C5 Aircross is an eye-catching, practical and comfortable SUV that deserves consideration from anyone considering a new mid-sized SUV. It’s not trying to be exciting to drive, which might put off buyers looking for a sporty edge, and some of the interior materials feel a bit cheap, but overall Citroen have designed a machine that will rightly appeal to a wide range of people, and an an attractive price.

Pros

  • Comfortable ride
  • Three proper seats in the back
  • Plenty of features

Cons

  • Interior quality could be better
  • Not much excitement for those looking for it
  • Reliability concerns

Interested in buying a Citroen C5 Aircross?

How good does it look? 5/5

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 headlights, 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 six optional paint colours to choose from as well.

What's the interior like? 3/5

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 touchscreen and aided by an array of touch-sensitive buttons underneath. It’s not the easiest system to use on the move as physical buttons would be considerably more user-friendly, but it does sport Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink for smartphone connectivity. The upgraded seats, which are standard on Flair and Flair Plus models, are very comfortable.

How practical is it? 5/5

Citroen is making a big deal about the C5 Aircross’ levels of practicality, and we don’t blame them. The boot, for starters, is the biggest in this segment with up to 720 litres of space with the rear seats up and slid forwards (580 with them pushed back). Fold them down, and you’ll have 1630 litres, which is more than Citroen’s C4 SpaceTourer MPV (a car that literally boasts about its roominess in its name). With each of the three rear seats folding down individually, this makes it very configurable. Each of the three seats is identical in size, slides forwards and backwards and reclines too, making the C5 Aircross a car that will genuinely seat five people in comfort, rather than four people and a slightly squashed unfortunate in the middle.

There’s plenty of space in the cabin too, 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? 4/5

Let’s get it straight right from the off: the C5 Aircross is not built for excitement, it’s built for comfort, so if you’re after sharp, nimble handling then we’d point you towards Seat’s Ateca instead. Citroen would have you believe that the suspension gives a “magic carpet-like" ride, which is stretching things a bit, but it does ride rather well. We’ve driven the car on some fairly terrible road surfaces during the car’s launch event in Morocco, and only when the potholes got really serious did the shock absorbers start protesting. With a high riding position, it’ll cope with some light off-road action, but it doesn’t boast the four-wheel drive system needed for really serious stuff.

Despite the softer, comfort focus, the C5 Aircross doesn’t disgrace itself when it comes to handling. The steering’s on the light side, but it stays commendably stable and confident while cornering. The petrol-powered version is slightly nippier than the 180-horsepower diesel, as it’s considerably lighter by some 110kg.

How powerful is it? 4/5

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. We tried both the 180 horsepower engines so far, and both are pretty decent. The diesel has more torque 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 serviceable job. Manual paddles are included if you want to shift gears yourself, but we can’t see a particular need to. A hybrid version is planned for 2020.

How much will it cost me? 5/5

The purchase price of the C5 Aircross is slightly higher than Nissan’s excellent Qashqai, very similar to the Hyundai Tucson and less than Volkswagen’s Tiguan. We crunched the costs of a 1.2-litre, 130 horsepower petrol C5 Aircross Flair against the equivalent models from those rivals, and found that the overall running costs are cheapest for the Citroen, thanks it large part to its impressive fuel economy. Predicted depreciation is very similar to the Nissan and Hyundai, while service, maintenance and repair costs are likely to be slightly higher, but considerably less than the Volkswagen. The Hyundai falls down on its fuel economy, which is worse than the rest. Overall then, the Citroen seems a sound financial bet.

How reliable is it? 2/5

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? 4/5

The C5 Aircross hasn’t yet been crash tested by safety organisation Euro NCAP, but with recent Citroens all scoring a maximum five stars, we’d be very surprised if that changes. The car comes with a huge list of safety features as standard, including automatic emergency braking, traffic sign recognition, a lane departure warning system and blind spot monitoring system, and 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? 5/5

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.

Why buy? 4/5

Because you’re looking for a quirky SUV with loads of space, that favours comfort over driving pleasure. The C5 Aircross won’t set anyone’s world on fire behind the wheel, and we wish the interior quality was slightly better, but it’s got the looks to turn heads, loads of space that’s flexible for different needs, and comes with plenty of kit. All that, and it should be pretty friendly on the wallet, too.

Interested in buying a Citroen C5 Aircross?