Citroën C5 Aircross Plug-In Hybrid: serenity on wheels by Paul-Edouard Urbain

Replacing or even upgrading a best-seller is never an easy job. Citroën deliberately choose sobriety for its C5 Aircross midlife restyling. The new one looks more angular and more dynamic as well. In fact, this C-segment SUV design strictly follows Citroën’s current styling ethos. We recently drove the 225 HP plug-in hybrid version in the Nice area and it was good opportunity to put this new model to the test.

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The new, more horizontal front end displays piano key inserts that give the car a more mature stance on the road than before.

Jekyll and Hide…

As the market is now dominated by SUVs, it would be easy to think that Citroën just seeks to boost its sales with yet another unpretentious jacked-up vehicle. Far from it! The C5 Aircross stands out from its competitors for various reasons. First of all, its rolling comfort is akin to a magic carpet ride and that’s a true Citroën virtue. The Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension is very soft, inducing the flying carpet feel.  However, the compromise between road holding and comfort is remarkable. While certainly not being the ideal vehicle to negociate mountain passes with verve, the revised C5 Aircross really impressed. Over the whole of our drive , it never wallowed unduly or ended up in a weird position. All the time, it remained stable and took bends smoothly, with an always reassuring attitude, even at high speeds.

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The three independent rear seats add to the practical side, allowing to get more cargo space when needed.

The Citroën Advanced Comfort seats are an active element of on-board comfort. They use high density memory foam. Even if the seats feel quite soft, their support is very good. It’s almost like being in your sofa, in the living room. This new hybrid C5 Aircross is even fitted with laminated side windows.  Once sitting inside, these add to the cocoon feeling and reinforce that sublte taste of luxury.

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Power and economy in use

We tested the 225 HP Plug-in Hybrid version. Even if the C5 Aircross weighs 1760 kg, the power available is  more than adequate.  This engine encourages you to drive smoothly and become an eco-focused driver. According to Citroën, this version should represent no less than about 41% of C5 sales. The PHEV powertrain perfectly matches the car’s serene demeanour. There are no vibrations to be felt, and the switch from the internal combustion engine to electric power is always smooth, even when you push hard on the right pedal.

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The hybrid version front wing logo.

The serene electric drive gives the car a real premium feel. In urban areas as well as on winding roads, it is even possible to drive without braking. Selecting the 8-speed autobox « B » mode sets the regenerative braking on. Once in use, it proved to be quite effective. One quickly gets into the eco-driving game… but that doesn’t mean being a snail on the road. At the end of our test drive (130 kilometres on Alpes Maritimes winding roads), we averaged 7.4 kWh/100 km and only 4.5 l/ 100 km of petrol.

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At the arrival, there were still 2 km autonomy left in electric mode. In electric mode, maximum speed is 135 km/h and the range is about 55 kilometres. Recharging the battery with a domestic wallbox  takes about two hours. The My Citroën application is linked to Free2Move. The multimedia system interface makes it very easy to modulate charging times for you.

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A type 2 connector is located opposite the fuel filler flap.

A subtle update

Citroën sold no less than 325,000 C5 Aircross since 2018, thus becoming a major contender in the segment. This C5 Aircross midlife restyling  ensures that everything that made it such a success for Citroën has been retained. The design is subtly updated with tighter lines, new headlights and tail lights as well as various well-integrated fully working aerodynamic details that aren’t there just to show off. More changes inside : a new 10-inch touch screen now resides in the middle part of the dashboard. Its only letdown is the rear view camera poor quality image. Fortunately, the 360-degree bird’seye view makes up for this. The instrument pod uses a 12.3 » screen and its dysplay is now fully digital, by the way. It can even be customized, of course. The speedo colour changes according to which type of power is used… in electric mode, blue dominates while things turn to white when the petrol engine is used on its own.

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The energy flows display is a pretty cool gadget.

The centre console is upgraded too. It now houses a large refrigerated  storage space under the armrest as well as a QI charger and two A-type USB sockets. That’s a shame there are no C-type USB sockets for faster smartpone charging, though. There is a new gear selector named « e-Toggle », as well as a swith to select one of the driving modes: Electric, Hybrid and Sport. The C5 Aircross is a true family car and Citroën offers individually adjustable rear seats (backrest angle and seat position). The boot has a regular shape and its capacity is massive,  even in the case of this hybrid version. It swallows 460 litres up to 600 litres when the seats are folded. The 130 HP petrol and diesel  versions offer even more boot space : from 580 litres up to 720 litres. Of course, numberous driving aids are standard : adaptive cruise control with Stop&Go function, level 2 autonomous driving, lane departure warning, etc.

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The new dashboard is much more ergonomic and the screens resolution is pretty good.

Affordable prices

The revised C5 Aircross is available with three engines (130 bhp petrol and diesel, and a 225 bhp rechargeable hybrid combining a 180 bhp petrol engine and a 13.2 kWh battery) and four trim levels: Live ( petrol or diesel only), Feel, Shine and Shine Pack. Prices start from €29,040 including VAT for the Live petrol version and rise up to €42,930 including VAT for the plug-in hybrid version. At the time of writing, various discounts sweeten the deal and it’s available from €37,820.

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The new 3D LED tail light visual signature is very attractive.

Reasonably prices extras are available too. Obviously, this is no sports car… we drove it about 130 kilometres and we were impressed by its dynamic and practical qualities as well as the design elegance, its long list of standard equipment and its fit and finish. Quite enough to set the record straight in a segment where competition is fierce! (Text: Paul-Edouard Urbain, photos: Paul-Edouard Urbain and Stellantis media)

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