Citroen C5 Aircross
Our love for cars isn’t a secret any more and more and more car manufacturers across the world are taking notice. Sure, it’s a challenging market but it is also a welcoming one. If you watched the trend, we Indians aren’t just opening our gates to new car manufacturers; we are laying down a big red carpet for anyone who comes our way. All it takes is to come up with a desirable product that offers good value and we will buy it. Renault became a household name with the Duster and Jeep was off to a decent success with the Compass too. New entrants from two years ago, like MG and Kia, were welcomed by the Indian car buyer with open arms as well. French manufacturer Citroen, which is part of PSA which in turn is now part of the automotive giant that is the Stellantis group, has been eyeing India for a while. With over 100 years of history, Citroen is known for innovation, design, and comfort. We drove their first offering in India – the Citroen C5 Aircross.
It is a global product, much like a Honda CRV. The C5 Aircross has a lot going on it in the styling department. The front end styling with the DRLs placed above the headlamps on the bumper was originally a design element seen on Citroens a decade ago, but in India, it has already been familiarized by other brands. It still looks premium and expensive. The white car we drove had reddish-orange accents on the front bumper, side cladding, and roof rails which looked funky. The 18-inch alloys look contemporary, the tail lamps have a 3D design inside, and everywhere you look, there are polygons with rounded corners. The proportions are great as well. It isn’t too big from the outside, but it is wider and taller than something like a Tiguan All Space.
The design flair carries on to the interiors as well. There is a square theme throughout, from the AC vents to the block pattern on the seats and even the steering wheel is somewhat of a square. Everything feels well-built and though most of it is hard plastic, it doesn’t feel cheap. The centre console is chunky and with the dashboard and door pads being quite thick, you feel cocooned in. The instrument console is digital and minimalistic and the tachometer is very difficult to read at times. The gear selector is an interesting shape and is easy to operate, while the paddles behind the steering feel a bit ordinary. The front seats are supportive and comfortable though the material isn’t great on a hot day. The rear seats are clever in the way that they are three individual seats that slide and recline independently of one another. While they are comfortable, the seats themselves are too contoured and two rear passengers will have to sit in their designated spots and not take up space in the middle. And even with the seats slid back, legroom is only average. A better arrangement would be if the seats could slide further back when you don’t need that luggage space. Speaking of luggage space, there are 580 litres of it and clever storage spaces are everywhere in the cabin.
The Citroen C5 Aircross gets Peugeot’s 2.0L diesel with 177bhp and 400Nm. Performance is strong and effortless and is delivered linearly. The engine is quite loud and though you don’t hear it thanks to the cabin insulation, it can get a bit thrashy when revved close to 4000rpm. It pulls everywhere in the rev range and the 8 speed Aisin gearbox is well suited for the characteristics of this car. You have various driving modes and choosing Sport isn’t necessary and nor is using the paddles. 0-100kmph is pretty quick taking only 9.7 seconds. It feels quite relaxed, masking speeds and feeling confident at highway speeds.
If you have watched the advertisement for the C5, you would know the emphasis is on the suspension used. Citroen as a brand has always focussed on comfort, having come up with the first all-wheel independent suspension in a production car, experimenting with a hydro-pneumatic system in the DS, and stuff like that. With such pedigree, it’s not surprising to see that the C5 can glide over anything. It can take a whole load of beating without transferring any of the shocks to the cabin. The suspension uses hydraulic bump stops to absorb rebound energy and make the wheels settle down quicker. With the focus on ride quality, handling isn’t very entertaining, but it isn’t bad either. The grip is very good and the steering is decent as well. There is a hint of body roll and it pitches under braking but in this class of vehicle, you don’t mind those.
The Citroen C5 comes across as a breath of fresh air in an otherwise staid segment. This French flair is something we Indians haven’t experienced. Sure, we have Renault, but most of their cars sold here are sourced from Romania. The C5 is a great start for the brand to show what they are capable of, before coming up with a new reasonably priced car later next year. From looking chic to feeling great inside and driving well, the Citroen C5 does everything right. It all depends on how well they are going to price it and what the after-sales are going to be. If it falls in the CRV, Tucson segment, then it’s going to be a hard sell for Citroen much like the other cars in that class. On the other hand, if it’s in the Compass, Hector, and Harrier segment, it is going to get a lot of interest. We will have to wait for the prices, but you can already check out the car at the Maison Citroen showroom near you.
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