Why would I buy it?
- Unconventional looks
- Powerful diesel engine
- Comfortable feature-packed cabin
Why would I avoid it?
- Single engine, gearbox, and variant option
- Limited sales and service network
Engine and Performance
The C5 Aircross facelift uses the same 2.0-litre diesel engine as its outgoing model which produces 174bhp and 400Nm of torque. This mill comes mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. And although all manufacturers including Citroen are phasing out diesel engines globally, this one still gets this oil-burner. Why not? It does provide the fuel price advantage, it’s nice and torquey, and it’s apt for this vehicle to be taken on our highways.
This car is front-wheel drive and you don't get an AWD set-up. Apart from the normal, eco, and sport, you get traction modes like standard, snow, mud, and sand. So, if the going gets a bit tough, these modes should assist you. The throttle response changes with each mode and it’s fantastic. There's no evident lag and the gearbox with tightly stacked gear ratios responds well to offer a smooth experience. Yes, the diesel engine's noise is audible, but Citroen has done a good job of insulating it to not make it feel noisy. And it is an engine that provides sufficient torque, be it sprinting between two signals or cruising between two cities on the highway.
Now, a diesel engine means frugality, and from our past experience, this one is fuel-efficient. Even the claimed fuel efficiency is rated at 17.5kmpl, which is slightly lesser but we shall ascertain that when we get the C5 Aircross for our real-world fuel runs. For now, there's no denying the fact that it will be useful on inter-city or state road trips.
Ride and Handling
Now, whether you are in the driving seat or at the back, it's a comfortable place to be in. And even if road conditions are uneven, you can have a relaxed experience. The C5 Aircross is equipped with Progressive Hydraulic Cushions suspension which provides additional damping. Then, there are Citroen's next-gen comfort seats that add extra cushioning to isolate an occupant from the impacts. Although there’s no feeling of unease, you can feel the imperfections of the road at slow speeds.
The highway ride otherwise is very compliant and keeps the occupants’ movements stable while remaining planted. No, it won't smother bad roads, and some broken patches and undulations can be felt, but it still is delightful. Furthermore, if you go around a turn fast, body roll kicks in due to the long suspension travel and high ground clearance. Nonetheless, the tyre grip is good and provides confidence to go about without breaking a sweat. The C5 Aircross is a big car, but despite its dimensions, it is quite easy to manoeuvre around. With such light controls even new drivers won't find it difficult to get a hang of things quickly.
The silhouette remains the same and the car continues to have a good road presence. Now, for the cosmetic changes, let's start with the front. Up front is a redesigned fascia with new LED headlamps and LED daytime running lights. The layered split headlight setup is replaced by a single-piece look and houses the DRLs that are aligned with the grille. Then, the centre gets Citroen's double Chevron logo. The front bumper has also been redesigned and features a chrome lip flanked by fog lamps. On the sides, you'll notice the carmaker has given the SUV a new design for the 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, which looks good. Moving to the back, things mostly remain the same with smaller changes like rectangular internal elements in the tail lamps with a dark finish.
Comfort, Convenience and Features
I have driven the earlier model of the C5 and this one retains that comfortable high-seating position. And though some things have changed on the centre console, things including essential controls are well within reach and there's good all-around visibility.
In terms of design changes, the free-standing 10-inch infotainment display is new and replaces the integrated unit. That said, the volume control knob and the touch-based keys have been retained. And when we say things on the centre console have changed, the conventional gear lever is missing as it’s replaced by a toggle switch. Similarly, the drive modes are now controlled by another button instead of a knob. Then, there are two USB ports and a wireless charger. Moreover, the instrument cluster gets a new interface and updated graphics with three customisable screens — Personal, Dials and Minimum.
Another USP of this car is that it has three separate seats for three occupants in the second row. And it's quite an advantage with the amount of space and comfort it provides. The carmaker also says the padding for the seats has increased which will further add to the comfort. However, we would have liked some more under-thigh support. These seats, which are meant for three occupants, individually slide, recline, and even retract and fold flat. So the boot of 580 litres can be expanded to 1,630 litres. And that brings us to the storage and stowage places, which are in plenty including a deep glovebox and centre tunnel storage.
Equipment-wise, the C5 Aircross was well packed and it continues with an electrically-powered driver seat, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, parking assist, auto headlamps and wipers, and many more features. Similarly, the safety aspect has been well-covered with six airbags, ESC, traction control, and Isofix seats, amongst others.
The Citroen C5 Aircross competes with the Jeep Compass, Hyundai Tucson, and the VW Tiguan. With its current pricing at Rs 36.67 lakh (ex-showroom) for this in the top-spec Shine trim, it most certainly comes across as an expensive choice of the lot. It does not have any variants, or other engine options, and doesn't get AWD, which rivals in its segment offer. But it has strong reasons to be still considered a worthy opponent in this battle of SUVs.
The C5 Aircross facelift remains to be a nice highway car offering a pliant ride quality. It's comfortable and packed with features, and since this diesel engine is fuel efficient, it will help owners save some money on long trips. And eventually, these unique looks do add some exclusivity to the roads that are now flooded with SUVs.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi