If you are looking for an SUV that doesn’t follow the styling herd, the Citroën C5 Aircross is your car. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
If you are looking for an SUV that doesn’t follow the styling herd, the Citroën C5 Aircross is your car. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

A planned six-month test period was extended by a further two months due to the fact that we couldn’t drive the Citroën C5 Shine during the hard lockdown, culminating in nearly eight months of custodianship, and I was happy for it.

The departure of a long-term car can be emotional. If a lemon had been foisted upon you, you’d celebrate the parting, but if you had grown attached to the car, a secret tear would be shed.

I loved the French car’s design and never tired of looking at its characterful styling, many times through the kitchen window. It stood out wherever we went and turned heads and ignited a barrage of questions and criticisms from the public.

“But Citroëns have no following here,” detractors would say.

“Really? We ought to inject more joie de vivre in our lives,” I’d shoot back.

The bond with the C5 was really crystallised during the 22,000-odd kilometres we spent together. I even made coffee with croissants a Phuti thing!

The front-wheel-drive C5 Aircross blends into urban settings as it does for long road trips with family. On many occasions it also found itself with a plume of dust behind it, such is the versatility.

Features in this top-of-the-range C5 Aircross Shine, priced at R559,900, include an electronically adjustable driver’s seat, a panoramic sunroof and lane-keeping assist. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
Features in this top-of-the-range C5 Aircross Shine, priced at R559,900, include an electronically adjustable driver’s seat, a panoramic sunroof and lane-keeping assist. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

It’s powered by a 1.6l turbocharged motor that’s mated to a six-speed auto and produces 121kW and 240Nm. Yet it could surprise a few unsuspecting victims with its peppy performance, and it was especially good at cornering fast.

The suspension is also one of the cushiest you’ll come across in the segment. The pliancy came in handy on days when I just needed to chill while the integrated cruise control and mild driving autonomy with its lane-keeping feature and blind-spot monitoring added to the peace.

It’s an easy thing to drive all day and the Shine model, priced at R559,900, is fitted with a well-calculated number of essentials inside its capacious interior.

This included climate control, Bluetooth, Android Auto with voice command and a touchscreen menu display, a reasonably thumping music system, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, and large panoramic sunroof. It has a manually operated tailgate, which didn’t help with the groceries-in-hand approach. Please offer a powered version, Citroën.

Life with the top-of-the-range C5 Shine was brilliant and it consumed 6.9l/100km on average. When that figure increased to about 7.8l/100km, it also coincided with the 15,000km mark and a mysterious knock in the front suspension when turning at slow speeds.

First service time beckoned and a quick check on citroen.co.za revealed my nearest dealer was Peugeot Northcliff, to whom a call was dispatched to book it in. The service experience was great and marred only by Covid-19 inconveniences, which meant there was no home drop-off service while the technicians returned the car to good health.

Upon collection at the end of the day, the service consultant explained the work carried out and also dealt my relationship with the car a huge blow. The knocking sound was found to be a worn front wishbone.

Clearly, the many safaris I went on had taken their toll on the front suspension, but this was a major let-down on its sparkling record considering such fresh mileage on the car.

I would be informed when the replacement part had arrived. This would also prove to be the crucial test of the promise made by the brand upon its return two years ago, after the 2016 sink caused partly by a bad reputation that saw customers endure long waits to have their cars fixed. Four days later, the call came in to return the car and it was cured.

In closing, the C5 Aircross offers something different to other compact SUVs bought by the Joneses. You buy it because, frankly, it isn’t Jonesey. It looks tantalisingly good and drives as if it’s stuffed with marshmallows inside its wheels. I’ll miss it hugely.     

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