We Like: Futuristic styling, good performance, fully loaded with all the extras, digital display, red detailing.
We Don’t Like: Damaged brand image, resale, fuel consumption average in class.
- Price: R 550 900 (October 2020)
- Engine: 1.6-litre turbopetrol
- Power/Torque: 121 kW / 240 Nm
- Transmission: 6 speed automatic
- Fuel Consumption: 7.9 L/100 km
- Load space: 520 to 1 630 litres
After a short absence, Citroen has come back to SA with 3 Strong products: the C3 compact hatchback, C3 Aircross crossover, and this model which we were lucky enough to have on test: the C5 Aircross SUV.
The market’s currently active with all-things-SUV so the C5 Aircross is a very important offering in Citroen’s local lineup and it had to be an extremely strong product to compete with its rivals, which includes the likes of the Peugeot 3008, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan and so forth, the Citroen offers mind-blowing styling and a measure of oddball appeal which is true to the brand.
The C5 Aircross looks like it’s 10 years ahead of its time when it parked next to anything else in this segment, SUV’s like these tend to be conservative and under styled. The Citroen, by contrast, knocks it out of the park!
Interior quality and features
Much like its exterior, the cabin of the C5 Aircross is a breath of fresh air. Interior quality is very high with real metal used in all the right places to give that premium feel and we like the look of the partial leather and cloth upholstery. It looks stylish and upmarket! It’s noteworthy on just how comfortable the seats themselves are apparently designed to be as comfortable as a couch with the same build-up of foam, and I’d say it’s the best way to describe them. Comfortable, firm and exude a sense of quality. The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable and when seated you’re met with a customisable 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.
You can tailor the layout of the cluster’s display by using the toggles on the leather-trimmed, multifunction steering wheel. The futuristic-looking instrument cluster is complemented by an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. In terms of its interface, however, it’s not the most intuitive system on the market (the layout and menus do require some familiarisation and is limited in layouts) and integrated satellite navigation isn’t included. would be nice if the apple car play could be projected onto this display and not only the 8-inch centre screen.
Moreover, in top-spec 1.6T Shine guise, we had on test, the “Shine” features some of the key nice-to-haves include a panoramic sunroof, electric windows and side mirrors, cruise control, automatic air conditioning (climate control), front and rear USB ports and a wireless smartphone charging pad as well as a built-in dashcam you can wirelessly connect to your phone and a button to take still frames.
Safety specification is also impressive and includes ABS with EBD and brake assist, electronic stability control with traction control, as well as 6 airbags. Park distance control (front and rear), a 180-degree reverse-view camera, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring systems are included too.
In terms of interior execution and features, the C5 Aircross has won at its price point. In fact, I don’t think anything else besides the Peugeot 3008 offers the feel of quality you will experience in the C5 Aircross shine.
Another area in which the Citroen C5 Aircross has been well designed is practicality. Firstly, the plastic/rubberish cladding with integral air pockets (the so-called Airbumps) helps to protect the bodywork from trolleys getting blown around the parking lots, and rouge doors from aside vehicles and myriad other minor impacts your car might sustain in your local shopping mall’s parking lot. We think they have done away better way of executing this feature compared to the old cactus it’s more discreet and looks pretty cool too…
Rear passengers will be pleased with the generous legroom on offer. The rear bench consists of 3 reclinable seats and can slide forward by as much as 150 mm to increase the standard 520-litre load bay to offer 720 litres. With all 3 seats folded, the flat load floor can accommodate bulkier items (up to a claimed at 1 630 litres).
Performance and economy
The C5 Aircross is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine(Prince/PSA motor) that is also featured in many other variants of makes and models and has been improved in this generation hopefully it hasn’t inherited the timing chain issues of the past. With outputs of 121 kW and 240 Nm, the motor is perky and performs well in combination with the very reliable Aisin 6-speed automatic transmission. The transmission shifts smoothly and the shift paddles behind the steering wheel allow the driver to actuate ‘changes manually.
In terms of fuel consumption, the C5 Aircross is claimed to consume 7.9 L/100 km, but you are more likely to see returns of just over 8.6 L/100 km.
Ride and handling
Citroen has opted to make the C5 Aircross the most comfortable in its class, with softened suspension that allows easy articulation over road imperfections and damped bump stops to lessen the impact of full compression or extension of the suspension. This linked with more softly padded seats is designed to create a more relaxing ride.
The effect is noticeable – there’s a certain suppleness to the ride without resorting to outright gelatinous wallowing, but even average suburban streets could still thump their way into the cabin. The set-up is forgiving, though not entirely impervious to intrusion.
Citroen describes the system as offering a “magic carpet ride”, but while it aims to deliver the legendary comfort of hydropneumatic suspension systems used by Citroen in the past, it can still crash through on some surfaces like sharp-edged potholes, spoon drains, and speed humps.
Super-light steering requiring next to no effort and a similar amount of feedback works well with the pillowy ride, but twitch the steering at speed and the two combine to make the car feel like it’s bobbing on the ocean. Corner carving is not this car’s forte – there’s plenty of body roll as you’d expect, though still some semblance of composure.
The cabin is pleasingly quiet/well-insulated from wind, road, and mechanical noise. We’d go so far as to say one could be forgiven for thinking that you were driving a more expensive vehicle! The C5 Aircross has a premium ride quality – it’s definitely right up there with the best in this segment.
Pricing and warranty
The Citroen C5 Aircross 1.6T Shine is priced at R550 900 and is sold with a 5-year/100 000km warranty and a 5-year/100 000km service plan.
Everyone that saw and tested the C5 Aircross 1.6T Shine said they loved the drive and the fresh bold looks of the C5 Aircross with the red detailing, which says a lot about this new product. This top-spec Citroen C5 Aircross has so much to offer – not only is it very fairly priced against the segment, but its level of standard specification bolsters the product’s value considerably. It’s comfortable, spacious, and offers solid performance with the necessary level of practicality to make it a good extremely easy to live with family car. This is an appealing alternative to the mainstream, and if you’re a buyer looking for something with a premium look and feel which we feel has more roadside appeal than all the other products on offer in this segment the C5 Aircross may suit you to a tee.
However, brand perception counts for a lot when final buying decisions are made as well as the ever-important resale value and we feel that Citroen needs to prove itself in terms of after-sales care and support to truly win the hearts and minds of local buyers. Nonetheless, the C5 Aircross is easy to recommend on its merits and we think it’s a product worthy of consideration if you are in the market for a stylish and well-appointed family car with some French flare.