SUVs are everywhere these days, and if you don’t have one, well you might be seen as a bit of a weirdo. The Citroën C5 Aircross is a late (very late) contender to the larger SUV set, but offers something different to the usual bog standard SUV style and design.
The 2020 version is available in two variants, the entry level Feel and the range topping Shine. It’s the latter that we’re putting through its paces. It’s quintessentially French, with a quirky, head-turning design.
Its look, inside and out, rejects the orthodoxy that mainstream crossovers normally follow and brings a freshness and difference to the market. That’s especially so in bright orange, Volcano Orange to be precise, which definitely helps to turn heads.
Fortunately, the cabin of the C5 Aircross has just as much character as the exterior, thanks to it’s unique finishes and a fresh and smartly styled layout. It actually brings a nice sense of occasion, and feels airy and spacious.
Considering that the C5 Aircross is in the same league as the Toyota RAV4 or Hyundai Tucson, the C5 feels bigger. And as expected, on the inside it really doesn’t follow the general design language we know as the norm, but it works for the Citroën.
It features a good choice of textures too, specifically the integration of leather and textile on the seat upholstery. But there are a couple of drawbacks, the main one being the unusually designed gear selector and its almost ‘back of Bourke’ location.
It feels easier for the front passenger to operate, rather than the driver. As a result, it almost seems as if Citroën has skimped out a little on the right hand drive conversion and not moved everything to be ergonomically correct.
That aside, the rest of the cabin is great. The digital driver’s screen and 8.0-inch infotainment screen are sharp and have everything you need at the touch of a button. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are standard.
Native satellite navigation, digital radio and Bluetooth smartphone functionality, along with wireless smartphone charging are also on offer. Devices can also be plugged in at one of the two USB sockets or two 12-volt outlets.
But it doesn’t stop there, the C5 Aircross Shine also grabs keyless entry, push button start, dual zone climate control with rear air vents, power folding mirrors, roof rails, electronic tail gate with kick to open control, and laminated acoustic glass.
The seats are comfortable too; soft but supportive, which is particularly good on long trips. It does miss out on heated and cooled seats, and considering the price point, we though this would have been included as a standard feature, but that’s a small quibble.
Outward visibility is great over the high bonnet line, but those front parking sensors are earning their keep as a result. The rear camera has adaptive guidelines, and is a little clearer and less distorted during the day time.
At night though, it’s almost useless, which is a really shame. It’s still better than some systems fitted rival SUVs though. Riding on 19-inch alloy wheels, the C5 Aircross sports a 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine producing 121kW and 240Nm or torque.
It’s mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission and is front-wheel drive. The little 1.6 is eager in response and surprisingly stout in full-throttle acceleration, but does feel like it’s being stressed.
The torque converter automatic works well 95 per cent of the time, with smooth upshifting, whether that’s around town or participating in some spirited driving. The transmission can, however, make mistakes with its downshifts.
Quick dabs of throttle will hang up the automatic for a second as it works out what just happened. It would also be nice to see the more powerful engine and 8-speed auto offered in Europe make its way to Australia.
The Citroën could be a real competitor on that basis. The French carmaker claims an official fuel consumption of 7.9-litres/100km, but we only managed to see 8.4-litres/100km with a combination of urban, freeway and some spirited driving.
With a history of unique and innovative suspension designs in Citroën’s history, the latest dark horse is Progressive Hydraulic Cushions, which still uses a coil spring and shock absorber.
Steering is impressively light at low speeds, and gains a nice weight and feel once moving along. It handles well, too. Body roll is well managed despite the supple suspension, and understeer isn’t apparent, unless perhaps when driving a bit too spiritedly.
Safety wise, the 2020 Citroën C5 Aircross has you, and your family, covered. Autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and six airbags are all standard inclusions.
Other safety technology includes cruise control, traffic-sign recognition, front and rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and wipers, and driver-attention alert.
It’s a genuinely nice car, and offers enough goodness and substance to be considered worthy of shortlisting on your new SUV shopping list.
The 2020 Citroën C5 Aircross Shine is priced from $46,990 (plus on-roads) and is available is seven colours, including Bianca White, Nera Black, Platinum Grey, Artense Grey, Volcano Red, Emerald Green and Pearl White.
Each colour is paired with an anodised silver, or anodised red, highlights package.
Our test vehicle was supplied by Citroën Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Citroën C5 Aircross, contact your local Citroën dealer.