If you look at Citroen’s current lineup, you won’t see too many crossovers and SUV,which is rather unusual given the current industry trends. Granted, Citroen might be a bit late to the party, but it’s already on its way to offering a solid family of crossovers in the future. The C5 Aircross is one of them and comes only two years after the French firm unveiled the Aircross concept. Heavily based on the show car, the production model broke cover at the 2017 Shanghai Motor Show ahead of its Chinese market debut.
Faithful to the concept car design-wise, the C5 Aircross has very little in common with the sedan using the same badge. On top of being a new product for the brand, it also brings two important technologies to the market. For starters, it’s the first Citroen to use a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. Second, it introduces the newly developed suspension system with Progressive Hydraulic Cushions. It’s also a somewhat premium offering compared to its rivals, but you’ll find out more about how it stacks up against the competition in the review below.
“While most production models aren’t as spectacular as their concept counterparts, I must say I like the C5 Aircross better than the show car that previewed it.”
Not surprisingly, the C5 Aircross borrows quite a few features from the concept car. But while most production models aren’t as spectacular as their concept counterparts, I must say I like the C5 Aircross better than the show car that previewed it. Why? Well, the production car sports a much more balanced design. Granted, it might not have the fancy rear windows and the massive wheels, but it also lacks the bulkiness that made the concept a sore sight to my eyes.
I also like the more conventional headlamps more, as well as the revised bumper with the wide center grille. The fact that Citroen gives the opportunity to have the surrounds of the outlets finished in a contrasting color keeps the production model somewhat exotic. The flowing, organic lines of the concept continue onto the engine hood and toward the sides, but there are significant differences here too.
“The large protection bump sections in the side skirts have been carried over though, albeit they look a bit different.”
For starters, the massive wheels and the black arches above have been replaced with more production friendly components. The large protection bump sections in the side skirts have been carried over though, albeit they look a bit different. Arguably the biggest changes are the more conventional mirror caps and door handles, and especially the rear door windows, which no longer have the aluminum-look frames. But even though the glass house is more mundane on the production model, Citroen kept the blacked-out A-pillars that give the car a “floating” roof. And that’s really cool!
“The rear window is slightly taller for improved visibility, while the taillights are bigger and feature redesigned LED clusters.”
Similar changes are visible around back. The rear window is slightly taller for improved visibility, while the taillights are bigger and feature redesigned LED clusters. The tailgate was also revised, now extending more toward the bumper. This also improved practicality, generating a bigger loading area. Down below there’s a new bumper with exhaust pipes moved closer to the ground. The fake side vents, a very popular feature nowadays, have been retained.
Four exterior colors are available, including Pearl White, Perla Nera Black, Platinium Grey, and Volcano Orange. The latter is a bold new shade close to the original color of the Aircross concept. In addition, two bright metallic touches in red or silver are available to bring more personality. The C5 Aircross can be ordered with a choice of 17, 18 or 19-inch wheels.
“Although far from futuristic, the concept’s interior was rather simple and clean, but it wasn’t the premium cabin that Citroen wanted in a production model.”
The interior of the concept car was thoroughly redesigned before production. Although far from futuristic, the concept’s interior was rather simple and clean, it wasn’t the premium cabin that Citroen wanted in a production model. The French firm changed pretty much everything, going with a stylish layout with curved, flowing lines.
The dash is symmetrical, split in two by a wide center stack with an eight-inch screen flanked by double air vents. The same double air vents can be seen at each corner of the dash. A tall and wide center console separate the driver and front passenger compartments, also housing the gear lever and various controls. Behind the stylish steering wheel with a flat-bottom design lies a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that displays a ton of information.
“The seats are quite fancy to look at, come with two-tone upholstery, and feature the sofa-inspired design seen in the innovative C4 Cactus.”
The seats are quite fancy to look at and come with two-tone upholstery. They also feature the sofa-inspired design seen in the innovative C4 Cactus. They also have top-stitching, heating, and available multi-point massage function that uses eight pneumatic chambers in the backrest. Rear passengers also benefit from comfortable seats with a backrest rake of 27 degrees and a wide armrest with integrated cup holders. Citroen also brags about the C5 Aircross offering the “best legroom in the segment.”
As far as cool features go, the crossover comes with wireless induction charging for smartphones, a new navigation system with 3D connected system, voice recognition, and Apple CarPlay. Assist features that make driving easier and safer include Speed Sign Recognition, Automatic Dimming Headlights, Active Safety Brake, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop Function, Active Lane Departure Warning System, and Vision 360 camera system.
“The Chinese model will be powered by the “latest-generation petrol engines” developing 165 and 200 horsepower.”
Citroen didn’t have much to say about the C5 Aircross’ drivetrain but did mention that the Chinese model will be powered by the “latest-generation petrol engines” developing 165 and 200 horsepower. The company is obviously referring to its newest 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder unit, which mates to a six-speed automatic gearbox.
European drivetrains are still a mystery, but it’s safe to assume that the 1.6-liter mills will be joined by smaller, 1.2-liter three-cylinder petrol engine plus a 1.5-liter diesel unit. Manual transmissions are also on the table, as is an eight-speed automatic.
“The C5 Aircross will be the first Citroen vehicle to feature a plug-in hybrid drivetrain.”
More importantly, the C5 Aircross will be the first Citroen vehicle to feature a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The combo will include a 200-horsepower gasoline engine and two electric motors, which combined will put out 300 horses. This figure will also make the C5 Aircross the most powerful Citroen production car ever. Four modes of operation will be available with the hybrid: All-electric (with a range of 60 km), Hybrid for long distances without charging, Combined, and 4X4. Much like any hybrid out there, it will be possible to charge the battery during deceleration or via the combustion engine while driving.
“The Aircross’ suspension system is far from mundane, using the company’s recently developed Progressive Hydraulic Cushions.”
The Aircross’ suspension system is far from mundane, using the company’s recently developed Progressive Hydraulic Cushions. Created with no fewer than twenty patents, it adds two hydraulic stops to each suspension unit in additional to the conventional dampers and springs. One hydraulic stop is for rebound and one for compression, which enables the suspension to function in two steps, depending on input.
With slight compression and rebound, the springs and dampers control vertical movement together without applying the hydraulic stops. However, their presence increases the vehicle’s freedom of movement, creating what Citroen describes a “magic carpet” effect, “as if the car were flying over bumps and dips in the road.” How very Rolls-Royce of them…
When greater compression and rebound is applied, the springs and dampers work together with the hydraulic compression or rebound stops, which gradually slow down the movement, thus avoiding sudden jolts. Unlike a conventional mechanical stop, which absorbs and then partially restores energy, the hydraulic stops absorb and dissipate this energy, eliminating rebound and improving comfort.
Pricing information for the C5 Aircross is not yet available, but given that most of its competitors start from the £17,000 to £18,000 (around $21,970 to $23,260 as of June 2017) range, the French crossover should retail from a similar sticker in base form. Maybe a bit more since it has quite many premium features, but the entry-level model should cost more than £20,000 (about $25,840) before options. The crossover is set to launch in China in October 2017, followed by Europe in the second half of 2018.
A big commercial success for Nissan since its introduction in 2006, the Qashqai was redesigned for the 2014 model year, receiving a new exterior design, a more refined interior, and updated engines. In most markets, Nissan offers a range of four-cylinder powerplants including 1.2- and 1.6-liter gasoline units, as well as 1.5- and 1.6-liter diesel mills. Gasoline models come with up to 160 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, while those powered by oil burners benefit from up to 128 horses and 236 pound-feet of twist. Unlike the C5 Aircross, the Qashqai is available in the U.S. as the Rogue Sport.U.K. pricing for the Qashqai starts from £18,265 (about $23,590) and goes up to £28,500 (around $36,810).
Redesigned from the ground up for 2016, the Sportage is larger than ever and adopted Kia’s new styling language, as well as an interior packed with more up-market features, and a quieter, more refined ride. Three engines motivate the new Sportage. While the gasoline range includes a 1.6-liter unit rated at either 130 horsepower and 119 pound-feet or 174 horses and 195 pound-feet, diesel models come with a choice of two powerplants. There’s a 1.7-liter mill with 113 horses and 207 pound-feet and a 2.0-liter unit generating 134 horsepower and 275 pound-feet or 182 horses and 295 pound-feet. Pricing starts from £17,465 (about $22,560) and goes up to £25,000 (around $32,290) for the range-topping version.
Needless to say, Citroen has a difficult mission in a crowded market that already offers solid vehicles such as the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, and Peugeot 3008. However, while the C5 Aircross is brand-new and needs some to time to settle in and get all the attention it deserves, the French crossover has quite a few tricks up its sleeve. For starters, it sports a fresh design that may appeal to customers looking for a fancier hauler. Second, it comes with a number of innovative systems, with the most significant being the suspension. Third, it’s a step above its main rivals in terms of premium features, which may also make it appealing to drivers looking for something different. Prices is a key factor here also, so we need to see where the Aircross sits in this niche in terms of bang for the buck. But overall, it seems solid in just about every aspect.