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      Citroen C5 Aircross First Drive Review

      Santosh Nair

      Santosh Nair

      Why would I buy it?

      • Quirky Looks
      • Superb engine and gearbox
      • High-speed ride quality

      Why would I avoid it?

      • Diesel thrum audible in the cabin
      • Poor headlights in the lower variant

      Engine and Performance

      Right Front Three Quarter

      Powering the front wheels of the C5 Aircross is a 175bhp/400Nm 2.0-litre diesel mill via an eight-speed torque converter auto gearbox; no all-wheel-drive here, as of now. But there are drive modes to choose from such as Eco/Sports mode, along with other traction modes, namely Standard, Snow, All-Terrain, and Sand to venture into the unknown. 

      Left Rear Three Quarter

      Now, although Citroen claims the best-in-class noise insulation within the cabin, I admit that it’s silent at cruising speeds. However, it tends to give away a slight diesel thrum every time one gets on the throttle at lower speeds. What’s remarkable though is the astonishing throttle response; there’s zilch lag whatsoever. Add to this the spades of torque via the transmission that has well-spaced gear ratios and quick gearshifts. And, you are essentially left with an abundance of grunt the instant it’s summoned.

      Right Paddle Shifter

      Amidst all this, the paddle shifters look like teasers, just to imbibe some excitement into the whole experience. All in all, the strong power output is further complimented by Citroen’s claims of the C5 Aircross capable of returning fuel efficiency of 18.6kmpl.

      Ride Quality and Handling

      Left Side View

      On to the ride quality first. We had to get behind Citroen’s claims of its C5 to be the comfort class SUV. It gets what the carmaker calls the ‘Citroen Advanced Comfort Program’. So, unlike other cars that get a shock absorber, spring, and a mechanical bump stop, the C5 gets ‘Progressive Hydraulic Cushions’. Our initial impression made it feel similar to how air suspensions are; yes, comfy it is, but, there’s a wee bit of movement over sharper bumps at low speeds. 

      Right Rear Three Quarter

      But as the C5 rolls on to the quicker side of 60kmph, the Citroen jargon begins to make sense as the damping improves tremendously. As regards the steering, being quick indisputably aids in changing directions in a hurry. But the lack of it being more feelsome, along with the soft damping, and a rather tall stance means there’s considerable body roll in store. So in the best interests of not being found turtled across a bend by your mates, it makes sense to take the corners easy.

      Comfort, Convenience, and Features

      Dashboard

      For starters, the funky exterior design language follows you into the cabin as well. Now, while the grey/black cabin materials may be far from bright, they certainly look fresh. Especially with the straighter lines all across. And below the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which should’ve been mildly larger, are the much-needed touch-operated buttons for the music, AC, navigation, and more. There’s indeed only so much touchscreen navigation which feels safe whilst driving, what say? 

      Front Row Seats

      But it’s the 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster that hauls attention here with loads of customisation options. That aside, the C5’s cabin is also a very practical one; complete with numerous roomy stowage sections on the dash/door-pads. As such, the large front seats look and feel special owing to the extravagant leather it’s wrapped with, and feel cosy thanks to superior cushioning and tremendous all-round support. Sigh, if only it had my favourite ventilation function! 

      Second Row Seats

      Then, there’s the rear bench that offers plenty of legroom. It smartly comprises three independent seats that can be reclined/folded flat to assist with loading extra luggage if the need be. But at 580-litres, the boot unaccompanied is capacious too. Features-wise, this capable Frenchie packs an air purifier, automatic headlamps and wipers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, and an electric tailgate. It’s also got a panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors with a reversing camera, and park assist.

      Bootspace

      Safety Features

      360-Degree Camera Control

      Citroen’s lone product in its India portfolio (for now) is covered on the safety front. The C5 gets front, side, and curtain airbags (driver/passenger), a blind-spot monitoring system, coffee break alert, hill descent and hill start assist, traction control, ESP and ABS, bright LED lighting, fog lamps with static cornering function, electric parking brake, and ISOFIX mounts on the seat.

      Exterior

      Front View

      The Citroen C5 Aircross brings along some much needed French beauty to our plain Jane market. From what amusingly looks to be a ‘Transformers’ derived nose, I shan’t say I don’t like it, being a huge fan of the series. Interestingly, the large array of horizontal slats along with the mean Citroen badge makes the C5 look broader than it is. And to top it all, the humungous air dams are the works, and can easily put the real ones (on supercars) to shame. In profile, there’s just the tall shoulder line that meets a fancy C-pillar, and snazzy wheels to account for, but the rear, yeah, is European charm at its best; simplistic but in your face. I’m not sure if I’m getting carried away. 

      Right Rear Three Quarter

      Conclusion

      Left Front Three Quarter

      The Citroen C5 Aircross, with a price tag that ranges from Rs 36.24 lakh to 38.96 lakh (OTR Mumbai) essentially takes the fight to the doors of the Hyundai Tucson, Jeep’s Compass, and the upcoming Volkswagen Tiguan. From today’s standpoint, the Citroen experience looks promising; more so with the unique retail experience lined up. Interestingly, as a product, the C5 has very little going against it other than the steep asking price. But if you set that aside and proceed with a clear mind, the Aircross comes across as a stylish French bloke that’s luxurious, dynamic and comfortable; just what it takes to be a winner. Hmm, where’s my cheque book, darling?

      Pictures by Kapil Angane

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