Citroen C5 Aircross

FIRST DRIVE We try Chi­nese ver­sion of big SUV that’s head­ing to Europe

Auto Express - - Contents - Mark An­drews

We head to China to drive Nis­san Qashqai ri­val

IT’S not un­usual for multi-na­tional car mak­ers to cre­ate China-only mod­els. What is rare is for one to launch a car in the Far East, only to bring it to Europe a year later – some­thing that’s about to hap­pen with the Citroen C5 Aircross.

This car shares its EMP2 plat­form with Peu­geot’s 3008 (tested on Page 52) and 5008, plus the Vaux­hall Grand­land X and re­cently launched DS 7 Cross­back. It’s one of the most dis­tinc­tive Citroens for years, and fur­thers the ex­pres­sive de­sign lan­guage first seen on the C3 Aircross.

The C5 Aircross’s ex­te­rior stands out from the cross­over crowd, but de­spite its big wheels and rugged body de­tail­ing, there’s no four-wheel-drive op­tion. Still, that’s a trait we’re now used to on PSA SUVS and it won’t bother most peo­ple.

Our early drive took place in China, where en­gine choices are lim­ited to 1.6 and 1.8-litre turbo petrols. Euro­pean mod­els should gain smaller petrols and a diesel op­tion, while a plug-in hy­brid is due, too. The Chi­nese C5 Aircross is avail­able in four trim lev­els and our 1.8T came in range-top­ping Flag­ship spec.

While the C3 Aircross has 85 body and roof colour com­bi­na­tions, there are just five paint op­tions for the Chi­ne­sespec C5. Inside, it is vis­ually at­trac­tive, with nu­mer­ous brown in­serts off­set­ting the char­coal grey leather seats. Ma­te­ri­als in this car aren’t as plush as in ri­vals such as the Volk­swa­gen Tiguan or even the Re­nault Kad­jar, feel­ing more on par with cheaper mod­els like the MG GS. Hard plas­tics dom­i­nate and the leather doesn’t feel par­tic­u­larly pre­mium, ei­ther, although it’s likely Euro­pean-built cars will see an im­prove­ment in th­ese ar­eas.

Thanks to an open­ing panoramic roof, the cabin is light and airy. There’s plenty of head­room in the back, but le­groom could be bet­ter and, un­like in the C3 Aircross, the rear bench nei­ther slides nor re­clines. There’s an easy-re­lease mech­a­nism for fold­ing it, and the floor can be raised to of­fer a flat load bay. The 516-litre ca­pac­ity beats the Ford Kuga’s 406-litre of­fer­ing, while an elec­tric tail­gate helps when car­ry­ing heavy loads.

On the road, it’s ap­par­ent the car is set up for com­fort. Pro­gres­sive hy­draulic cush­ions, car­ried over from the C4 Cac­tus, en­sure a soft ride, which is at odds with the hard seats. While it does a good job of soak­ing up bumps, quick ma­noeu­vres at speed see the Citroen wal­low­ing from side to side.

With more than 200bhp, the en­gine should pro­vide spir­ited per­for­mance, but ul­ti­mately it fails to ex­cite. The mo­tor is ham­pered by the six-speed au­to­matic gear­box, which is the only trans­mis­sion of­fered on Chi­nese mod­els. While ini­tial ac­cel­er­a­tion is rea­son­able, it be­comes par­tic­u­larly slug­gish at mid-range speeds. Still, the ad­di­tion of a man­ual

gear­box for Euro­pean mod­els should go some way to rec­ti­fy­ing this prob­lem. Road and en­gine noise are kept at bay, but there is a shud­der from the stop/start as the en­gine kicks back into life.

The Flag­ship trim boasts 12 driv­ing aids, in­clud­ing ac­tive cruise con­trol and PSA’S AEBS2 ac­tive safety brak­ing sys­tem, which is de­signed to stop the car in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions.

Else­where, elec­tri­cally ad­justable front seats with a mem­ory set­ting are com­ple­mented by a mas­sage func­tion. Citroen Con­nect also fea­tures; this gives real-time info on traffic, park­ing and fuel prices. Ap­ple Carplay and Mir­rorlink help with smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity as well.

Brown ac­cents add a splash of colour to the at­trac­tive cabin de­sign

PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY Big boot trumps many of the C5 Aircross’s ri­vals, while the floor can be raised to of­fer a flat load bay. Rear seats don’t slide or re­cline, how­ever EQUIP­MENT Dig­i­tal in­stru­ments are great, repli­cat­ing sat-nav in­struc­tions from the main touch­screen. Elec­tric mas­sage seats feature, as does Ap­ple Carplay

IN­TE­RIOR Cabin qual­ity wasn’t up to scratch on our Chi­nese test model; we hope Euro­pean-spec cars will be bet­ter. Auto box ham­pered the per­for­mance of the en­gine

C3 Aircross has in­spired styling; sat-nav of­fers real-time park­ing info De­spite SUV looks, there’s no four-wheel drive, and C5 is set up for com­fort

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.