2021 Citroen C5 Aircross Shine review

The range-topping C5 Aircross brings the floating ride that Citroen is famous for, but what is it like as an overall package?

Citroen C5 Aircross medium suv
Gallery21
7.5/10Score
Score breakdown
6.0
Safety, value and features
9.0
Comfort and space
7.0
Engine and gearbox
9.0
Ride and handling
7.0
Technology

Things we like

  • Ride comfort
  • Cabin layout
  • Boot space
  • Individuality

Not so much

  • Rudimentary advanced driver assist tech
  • Service costs

The jolly-looking Citroen C5 Aircross brings some of the French carmaker’s best traits to the packed medium SUV market, including quirky looks and a very smooth ride.

Introduced in 2019, the family-friendly mid-sizer comes in a simple two-variant line-up for Australia, comprising the entry-level C5 Aircross Feel that retails for $42,990 before on-roads and the Shine that’s priced at $46,990.

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Both are powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and come with plenty of standard features including:

  • 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster
  • 8.0-inch touchscreen
  • Android Auto/Apple CarPlay
  • Satellite navigation
  • Digital radio (DAB+)
  • Ambient interior lighting
  • Surround-view down parking monitor
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • ‘Magic wash’ windscreen wipers
  • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
  • Speed-sign recognition
  • Keyless entry and ignition
  • Power-operated door mirrors
  • Dual-zone climate control air-conditioning
  • Power-operated tailgate
  • Four terrain driving modes
  • Autonomous emergency braking
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Blind-spot monitoring

Spending $4000 more on the Shine brings combination leather and fabric upholstery, bigger 19-inch alloy wheels (up from 18s), a wireless phone-charging pad, aluminium pedals and Citroen’s advanced comfort seats with powered driver’s side adjustment.

Citroen C 5 Aircross Shine 2
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What is the Citroen C5 Aircross Shine like to live with?

It’s only when you get up close to the C5 Aircross that you realise how roomy it is. Jumping in, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in a large SUV despite being about the size of a Mazda CX-5.

The Shine’s smart-looking front seats are wide and comfortable and have power-adjustable settings, though lumbar support is adjusted with a manual lever in the side.

Citroen C 5 Aircross Shine 9
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Citroen has long been known for its comfy seats and the so-called advanced comfort seats in the C5 Aircross Shine are padded with 15mm of high-density mattress-grade foam, which is 13mm more than the standard seats.

The high centre console adds to the sense of space and features a cavernous storage bin that tunnels under the cup holders, with the chilled lower section seemingly designed to perfectly fit and cool a two-litre plastic orange juice or milk bottle, as I happened to discover during a quick trip to the shops. The storage tub is topped with a butterfly-opening armrest.

Also housed in the console is a small storage area to plug in and wirelessly charge a mobile device, the four-mode terrain controller and the pistol-style gear shifter that’s also found in Peugeot models.

Citroen C 5 Aircross Shine Interior 2
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Touchpoints are all soft, though there are some hard plastics in the lower sections of the dashboard and door cards.

The 8.0-inch infotainment is well-located at the same height as the digital gauge cluster so you can view it with a side glance.

Neither screen is angled at all, so can be quite susceptible to sun glare in the morning and late afternoon.

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Moving to the back row also finds comfortable seats, all three of which individually fold, recline and slide back and forth. The backrests recline or fold flat by simply pulling on a strap.

Legroom is a little tight even with the seats slid back but the front-seat backs are soft, meaning you won’t be too uncomfortable if your knees are touching. The good news for taller people is the presence of ample headroom.

The back row can seat three adults, albeit with tight elbow room. Children are well accommodated and all three seating positions have an ISOFIX child-seat anchor – most vehicles only have two.

Citroen C 5 Aircross Shine Interior 3
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Rear-seat amenities include air vents, a USB socket and generous door bins that can hold a wine bottle – as I also discovered.

The rear door cards feel hard but at least the armrests are padded.

Those sliding rear seats and an adjustable boot floor brings a variable cargo capacity ranging from 580 to 720 litres, which is more than some large SUVs. Folding the seatbacks down allows you to cart up to 1630 litres of stuff.

Citroen C 5 Aircross Shine Boot
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The boot contains a 12-volt socket, a couple of cargo hooks and a space-saver spare wheel under the floor.

Opening the power-operated tailgate can be done using a hands-free function that works by raising your leg near the rear bumper, though I found this to be a little hit-and-miss.

The 121kW/240Nm turbocharged engine has an official combined fuel economy of 7.9L/100km which was about on par with my own driving. That’s quite good for a medium SUV, though you do have to feed it more expensive 95 or 98 RON premium unleaded.

Citroen has a reputation for building cars with exceptional ride comfort and the C5 Aircross lives up to it

Service intervals are 20,000km or 12 months, which is good news if you travel a lot. The bad news is that scheduled service pricing will sting a bit, with the first five trips to the service centre costing $461, $823, $461, $836 and $474 respectively.

The Citroen C5 Aircross is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty that comes with free roadside assist for the duration.

What is the Citroen C5 Aircross Shine like to drive?

Citroen has a reputation for building cars with exceptional ride comfort and the C5 Aircross lives up to it with a ride that’s smooth and supple.

It achieves this with a simple but very clever patented hydraulic upper bump-stop system that was tested during the 1994 Paris-Dakar Rally. Unlike conventional shock absorbers that have a mechanical stop to prevent the spring from fully compressing, the Progressive Hydraulic Cushions (PHC) system adds two hydraulic stops on both the compression and rebound sides to soften out any jarring.

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On good roads, the system creates what Citroen describes as a "magic carpet ride" effect that gives the impression the car is gliding over uneven ground and I can’t really fault that description.

Over rougher roads, the spring and shock absorber work together with the hydraulic compression and decompression stops to gradually slow the movement and avoid jerks at the end of the travel range. Unlike a traditional mechanical stop, which absorbs energy but returns a part of it, the hydraulic stop absorbs and dissipates the energy, eliminating any bouncing.

The smooth and soft ride is further enhanced by the thick-walled and relatively narrow 19-inch Michelin Primacy tyres that are also designed to reduce rolling resistance, which helps reduce road noise.

Citroen C 5 Aircross Shine 5
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The 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine that drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission is adequate but can feel a little underpowered at times, particularly when negotiating hills.

It also takes a while to get the car's 1430kg heft moving, though it does have a Sport driving mode that sharpens the throttle response if you prefer a friskier take-off.

Once you get going, it travels well, combining with the plush ride comfort to make this quite a pleasant SUV for longer trips.

What about safety in the Citroen C5 Aircross Shine?

While the C5 Aircross has the most important active safety features such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assist and blind-spot monitoring, it seems a little ill-equipped compared to most of its rivals.

As a result, it only holds a four-star ANCAP safety rating, the reason for which is its relatively poor vulnerable road user protection score of 58 per cent due to the AEB’s limited pedestrian detection and inability to detect cyclists.

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It’s worth noting that the C5 Aircross performed well in the crash testing component, scoring 87 per cent for adult occupant protection and 88 per cent for child occupant protection.

Other safety features include a 180-degree surround-view parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, vehicle distance alert, traffic sign recognition and six airbags.

Notable omissions for a car in this price range include adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and LED headlights.

VERDICT

The cheerful looks and impressively plush ride comfort of the Citroen C5 Aircross make it stand out from the medium SUV pack. However, it does miss out on some important features found in newer rivals, not the least adaptive cruise control, which is disappointing considering its mid-$40k price tag.

But it does come with a host of other desirable features that help make it worth a look should you be after a spacious, practical and very comfortable European medium SUV.

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Citroen C5 Aircross Shine specifications

  • Body: 5-door, 5-seat SUV
  • Drive: FWD
  • Engine: 1598cc 4-cyl, 16v turbo petrol
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • Power: 121kW @ 6000rpm
  • Torque: 240Nm @ 1400rpm
  • Bore stroke (mm): 77.0 x 85.8
  • Compression ratio: 10.5:1
  • 0-100km/h: 9.9sec (claimed)
  • Fuel consumption: 7.9L/100km (combined)
  • Weight: 1430kg
  • Suspension: MacPherson strut front with PHC / cross member rear with PHC
  • L/W/H: 4500/1840/1624mm
  • Wheelbase: 2725mm
  • Brakes: 304mm front ventilated discs/290mm rear solid discs
  • Tyres: 205/55 R19 Michelin Primacy 3
  • Wheels: Alloy 19-inch  
  • Price: $46,990
7.5/10Score
Score breakdown
6.0
Safety, value and features
9.0
Comfort and space
7.0
Engine and gearbox
9.0
Ride and handling
7.0
Technology

Things we like

  • Ride comfort
  • Cabin layout
  • Boot space
  • Individuality

Not so much

  • Rudimentary advanced driver assist tech
  • Service costs

 

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