Citroën’s vive la différence SUV
The C5 Aircross mixes flamboyant styling with practicality and a cushy ride
There’s a lot of styling homogeneity in the car market, with different brands often copying one another and doing much the same thing in a formulaic, paint-by-numbers approach.
Citroën, back in SA after a couple of years’ leave of absence, has always favoured a vive la différence approach and its latest exhibit is the C5 Aircross SUV, the flagship of its local range.
First, just look at it. There’s no chance this posing peacock will ever get lost in a crowd. No doubt it won’t appeal to everyone’s taste and some might find the glitzy grille and those red accents a little too “Walt Disney” for their liking. Even the roof rails aren’t spared the dual-tone colour treatment.
But if you want to stand out in le traffic jam, this flamboyant French car will certainly get you noticed.
But there’s safety, substance and family practicality beneath the party-animal veneer. If it’s a cushy ride you’re after, one of this car’s other unique selling points is a fancy suspension system called Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension that uses hydraulic buffers to help eliminate bounce from the car’s drive.
It really works. The suspension seems to get better the worse the road gets and comes into its own on rippled gravel roads. Together with the bump-soaking ride and high-profile tyres, the generous 230mm ground clearance makes the C5 Aircross a useful SUV that can be used for mild offroading even though it’s only a front-wheel drive.
The vehicle’s available in two spec levels — Feel and Shine — both powered by a 1.6l turbo petrol engine paired with a six-speed automatic.
It’s a punchy little engine that starts off a little laggy at low revs but pulls with decent gusto once on the go. It has eager midrange torque and the auto gearbox fires smoothly through the ratios. The four-cylinder engine gets a little raucous at higher revs, but the car’s general refinement is good with double-glazed front windows providing soundproofing.
The 11.3l /100km fuel consumption is a lot higher than the factory-quoted 7.9l, but the car’s brand new and this should improve as the engine racks up some mileage. We’ll get a chance to report back on that as we’re keeping the C5 Aircross for a six-month test.
Another notable feature of this Citroën is its wide and well-padded seats, giving them couch-like comfort that seems ideally suited to long journeys — another item we will cross off on our to-do list once the Covid-19 lockdown ends. Rear legroom is good if not exceptional, but kudos to the vehicle’s impressive modularity. To deal with varying passenger/luggage loads, the three rear seats can be individually adjusted for legroom and backrest angle, or folded flat.
The split-level boot is a useful 520l in size, expands to 1,630l, and houses an almost full-sized spare wheel. Cabin oddments space is plentiful too, including a storage box between the front seats that’s large enough for a 2l cooldrink bottle. Toys are plentiful in this top-of-the-range C5 Aircross Shine priced at R514,000, including an electronically adjustable driver’s seat, blind spot monitoring, a panoramic sunroof, and lane-keeping assist, among others. There’s no onboard navigation however, just the ability to pair your smartphone’s pathfinding abilities via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
The C5 Aircross Shine model is on the pricey side, but the Feel version also comes with a reasonable list of creature comforts for a R40,000 price saving.
In a world of sometimes beige-flavoured middle-of-the-roadness, the Citroën C5 Aircross presents some charismatic va-va voom for those who want to be noticed. Under the flashy costume is a car that ticks all the practicality and comfort boxes, and delivers a cushy ride.
Type: Four-cylinder petrol turbo
Type: Six-speed auto
Type: Front-wheel drive
Top speed: 189km/h
0-100km/h: 10.5 seconds
Fuel Consumption: 7.9l/100km (claimed); 11.3l /100km (as tested)
Panoramic opening glass roof, automatic headlights, automatic headlamp levelling, front fog lights with cornering, LED daytime running lights, automatic windscreen wipers, cruise control, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, ABS brakes, electronic stability control, six airbags, keyless operation, driver attention alert, tyre pressure monitoring, dashcam, blind spot monitoring, Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension, parking aid with reversing camera, climate control, digital instrument cluster, touchscreen infotainment system, half leather seat trim.
Warranty: Five years/100,000km
Service plan: Five years/100,000km
Lease*:R11,034 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
Kia Sportage 2.0 EX, 115kW/196Nm — R485,995
Renault Koleos 2.5 Dynamique auto, 126kW/233Nm — R459,900
Toyota Rav4 2.0 GX auto, 127kW/203Nm — R457,500
Ford Kuga 1.5T Ambiente auto, 132kW/240Nm — R425,000
Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Elite, 115kW/196Nm — R529,900
Mazda CX-5 2.0 Individual, 121kW/213Nm — R509,900
Opel Grandland X 1.6 Turbo Enjoy, 121kW/240Nm — R489,000
Peugeot 3008 1.6T GT Line, 121kW/240Nm — R549,900
Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI Comfortline R-Line, 110kW/250Nm — R513,700
Citroën C5 Aircross Shine 1.6 turbo auto
Ride comfort, cabin modularity, stands out in a crowd
Fuel consumption, styling may be too garish for some
Vive la différence
***Value For Money