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The new-generation Mazda CX-5 arrived just last year, but now there's a new one. We went to the Australian launch to see if we could spot the difference.
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The new Citroen C5 Aircross is a mid-sized SUV just like the Toyota RAV4 or Mazda CX-5, only different. I know, I’ve counted the differences and there are at least four which make the French SUV better in certain ways.
But not you. You’ll know. Not only that, you’ll also know if there are any areas where the C5 Aircross can be improved.
|Citroen C5 Aircross 2019: Feel|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Citroen is well known for giving its vehicles off-beat styling and the C5 Aircross wears a similar face to recent quirky SUVs such as the C4 Cactus and C3 Aircross, with high-placed LED running lights sitting above its headlights.
It’s a chunky face, too, with a high bonnet. And it’s made to look even fatter thanks to the layered effect of the horizontal grille elements connecting the lights.
Low down there are shapes which Citroen calls squrcles (one houses an air intake), while plastic moulded ‘air bumps’ down the side of the car protect against runaway shopping trolleys and carelessly opened doors.
Citroen calls the LED tail-lights 3D because of the way they ‘float’ inside their casings. They’re pretty, but I’m not a huge fan of the upright design of the rear of the car.
That stubbie look suits the smaller C3 Aircross, not a mid-sized SUV like this, but Citroen has always done things differently.
That difference is also present in the cabin styling. Other brands, save for Citroen’s sister company Peugeot, just don’t design interiors like that found in the C5 Aircross.
There’s the squared off steering wheel, more squrcle-shaped vents, a snout-like transmission shifter and superb seats.
The entry grade Feel has fabric seats and I prefer their 1970s armchair texture to the leather upholstery in the top-of-the-range Shine.
In some places there are hard plastics, but Citroen has used design elements such as the dimples in the door trims to add character to what would otherwise be bland surfaces.
How do the dimensions of the C5 Aircross compare to rivals such as the RAV4 or even its sibling the Peugeot 3008?
Well, at 4500mm long the C5 Aircross is 100mm shorter than a RAV4, 15mm narrower at 1840mm across and 15mm shorter at 1670mm tall. Compared to the Peugeot 3008, the C5 Aircross is 53mm longer, 14mm wider and 46mm taller.
Those looks aren’t the only difference between the new C5 Aircross and its mainstream competition – interior function is, too. Well, in some ways.
See, the back seat isn’t a back seat, singular. They are back seats plural, because each is a separate chair that slides and folds individually.
The problem is legroom in the rear isn’t terrific even if you slide them all the way back. At 191cm tall I can only just sit behind my driving position. Headroom is fine back there, however.
Slide those rear seats forward and the boot capacity opens up from a respectable 580 litres to an enormous-for-the-segment 720 litres.
Storage throughout the cabin is excellent, apart from the glove box which will fit a glove. You’ll have to put the other glove somewhere else, like the centre console storage bin, which is enormous.
There are rock pool-like storage wells around the shifter along with two cupholders, but you won’t find cupholders in the second row, although the back doors have decent bottle holders and the ones in the front are huge.
The Feel grade misses out on the wireless charger that's standard in the Shine, but both come with a USB port up front.
There are two grades in the C5 Aircross line-up – the entry level Feel which lists for $39,990 and the top-of-the-range Shine for $43,990.
The standard equipment list on the base grade is great and provides almost no reason to step up to the Shine. Coming standard on the Feel is a 12.3-inch digital cluster and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sat nav, digital radio, a reversing camera with 360-degree view, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, fabric seats, paddle shifters, proximity key, kick-open auto tailgate, LED running lights, auto headlights and wipers, tinted rear glass, 18-inch alloy wheels and roof rails.
Stepping up to the Shine adds a power driver’s seat, combination leather and fabric seats, 19-inch alloy wheels, a wireless charger and aluminium pedals.
Yes, the wireless charger is convenient, but I think the fabric seats are more stylish and feel nicer.
Both grades come with very ordinary halogen headlights. If the Shine offered LED headlights there might be more of a case to go there.
Is it worth the money? The Feel is the best value, but the list price of the mid-range RAV4 GXL 2WD RAV4 is $35,640 and a Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport 4x2 is $36,090. A Peugeot 3008 costs about the same with the Allure grade listing for $40,990.
Also shared with the Peugeot is the C5's six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
How does that engine go pulling the 1.4-tonne C5 Aircross? Well, there were times on my road test I felt it could have done with more grunt. Specifically when I pulled into the overtaking lane and started to worry we weren’t going to get past that giant truck before the left lane ended. We did, just.
In the city you’ll hardly notice the engine is slightly under-powered. It performs well, as does the six-speed auto, which only became a little reluctant to shift when driving harder on twisty country roads.
Magic carpet manufacturers are going to start marketing their rugs as having a Citroen C5 Aircross ride, because that’s how comfortable this mid-sized French SUV feels at any speed.
I’m serious, I’ve just stepped out of a couple of large German luxury SUVs which don’t ride as well as the C5 Aircross.
Nope, there’s no air-suspension, just cleverly designed shock absorbers which (at the risk of simplifying it too much) contain mini shock absorbers to damp the dampers.
The result is a superbly comfortable ride, even over speed bumps and poor road surfaces.
The downside is a car that feels too floaty and leans a lot in cornering, although tyre squeal was notable by its absence even when pushing hard through bends.
It felt as though the entire SUV could lean over and touch its door handles on the ground without losing tyre contact with the road.
Step on the brakes and the soft suspension sees the nose dive and then pitch upwards as you accelerate away again.
The steering is also a little numb, which combined with that floatiness fails to deliver an especially connected or engaging driving experience.
That said, I far prefer driving the C5 Aircross to the Peugeot 3008 – mainly because the 3008's steering wheel obscures the instrument cluster in my driving position, and its hexagonal shape doesn't flow through my hands around corners.
Citroen says the C5 Aircross will use 7.9L/100km over a combination of open and urban roads, which is almost bang on the 8.0L/100km our trip computer reported after 614km of motorways, country roads, suburban streets and CBD traffic.
Is that economical? Yes, but not hybrid economical.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
The C5 Aircross is yet to be given an ANCAP rating.
For child seats you’ll find three top tether points across the second row and two ISOFIX points.
A space saver spare wheel can be found under the boot floor.
The C5 Aircross is covered by Citroen’s five-year/unlimited, kilometre warranty, with roadside assistance provided for five years.
Servicing is recommended every 12 months or 20,000km and while there is no capped price servicing Citroen says over five years you can expect to pay $3010 in service costs.
The Citroen C5 Aircross is different to its Japanese and Korean rivals. And it's more than just looks. The versatility of the rear seats, the good storage, large boot and comfortable ride make it better in terms of ride and practicality. From a driver engagement point-of-view the C5 Aircross isn’t as good as those rivals and while there’s plenty of equipment, it’s pricey, and the expected maintenance costs are greater than most of its competitors.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.
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