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First drive: Citroen C5 Aircross

Date: 19 July 2022   |   Author: Martyn Collins

The family SUV market is showing no signs of slowing down, and Citroen's response is the facelifted C5 Aircross.
Standard equipment:
18in alloy wheels, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start, power folding mirrors.
Petrol: 130hp 1.2
Diesel: 130hp 1.5
Plug-in Hybrid: 225hp 1.6
Equipment grades:
Sense Plus, Shine, C-Series Edition.
Six-speed manual, eight-speed automatic.

After four-years and 325,000 sold worldwide, with 245,000 of those sold in Europe alone - it's time for Citroen's C5 Aircross C-SUV to receive its mid-life facelift to stay current in this closely fought area of the market. Considering its sales success, it is no surprise that these changes are minor. 

Outside, the C5 Aircross has received what Citroen describes as a 'vertical' and 'more assertive' look. At the front, this means a new V-shaped LED light signature with darkened headlights, a gloss black grille with clever chrome detailing linking the chevrons to the light signatures and a revised front bumper with skid plate. At the side, there are new 18in alloy wheel designs, while at the back, there are new lights - this time in '3D' design.

Inside the C5 Aircross, the changes are also minimal and revolve around a revised centre console, plus a higher definition 10in touchscreen infotainment system placed high up. Still, like the rest of the C5 Aircross, there wasn't a lot wrong with the interior as you have some of the comfiest seats going and a decent driving position. While in the rear the three seats can slide forward and back to aid boot space, yet there's still sufficient legroom. 

Mechanically, the C5 Aircross range is unchanged, with the choice of a 130hp, 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbo Puretech petrol, a 130hp BlueHDi 1.5-litre diesel, or the 225hp plug-in hybrid, which pairs a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 110hp electric motor and 13.2kWh battery, and will be of most interest to fleet with its 12% BIK liability. Citroen are predicting a 65/35% split in favour of the PHEV.

Despite the off-road-style looks, the C5 Aircross is only driven by the front wheels. The nearest thing to four-wheel drive is the Grip Control system - this is basically a switchable traction control system, and is available on all models except the PHEV. 

Spec-wise, Sense versions are replaced by the Sense Plus equipment grade, with extra equipment. Shine is up next, and includes the semi-autonomous drive assist pack, plus alcantara trimmed advanced comfort seats. At the top of the C5 Aircross range is the C-Series Edition with a bi-tone roof and anodised bronze accents, panoramic glass sunroof, wireless charging, and a
power tailgate. 

We spent longest driving the PHEV version, which with no mechanical changes, felt largely the same as a pre-facelift car we drove a while back. Like the Peugeot 308 SW and Vauxhall Astra hybrids driven most recently, to get the most out of the battery on long runs, we quickly moved modes from 'Electric' to 'Hybrid.' This equals silent EV progress, until we're free of towns and the open road awaits. Then, the power is almost seamlessly switched to the petrol engine. I say almost seamlessly, because if you work the engine hard, you can hear more of it than you'd like. 

It is even worse in 'Sport' mode, which seems to only make the throttle more sensitive. In our opinion the boomy engine and 'Sport' mode seem out of place with the comfort and refinement experience that the C5 Aircross has always offered. 

Comfortable and refined best sum up the C5 Aircross's ride too, as this Citroen is still suspended by their impressive advanced comfort suspension system. As such, even on the roughest road surfaces, the C5 Aircross cleverly absorbs most shocks and vibrations. I say most, as in general you appreciate how composed the ride is, but every now and then it can feel fidgety and floaty. While the focus is on comfort rather than dynamism, the handling itself is tidier than expected. There is some body roll, but plenty of grip and you'll know you have gone too far when the tyres start squealing and the stability control gets involved. 

The driving experience is largely the same in the Puretech petrol, although the gear changes don't feel so smooth. Maybe without the extra weight of all the hybrid kit, the ride seemed more affected by imperfections.

Looking inside, although you don't get the all-new infotainment found in the incoming C5X, the upgrades here are generally welcome and it seemed faster to respond than we remember. Although, a set of physical buttons for the climate control would be better. 

Facelift or not, the C5 Aircross remains the comfortable, refined SUV it has always been. The PHEV is our favourite, despite being the most expensive option, it adds an extra layer of refinement and should bring welcome day-to-day running cost savings.

Citroen C5 Aircross C-SUV

P11D: £35,025

Residual value: 44.41%

Depreciation: £19,472

Fuel: £2,237

Service, maintenance and repair: £2,417

Cost per mile: 40.21p

Fuel consumption: 222.3mpg

CO2 (BIK %): 32g/km (12%) 

BIK 20/40% a month: £70/£140

Luggage capacity: 580 litres

Engine size/power: 1598cc /180hp with 110hp electric motor


  • PHEV tax and running cost savings
  • Comfort
  • Refinement
  • Ride can feel fidgety and floaty sometimes
  • Some infotainment issues