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Does the C5 Aircross still deliver the same comfortable, refined, and great-value package in 1.2-litre PureTech 130 form?
18in alloy wheels, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start, power folding mirrors.
: 225hp 1.6
Sense Plus, Shine, C-Series Edition
Six-speed manual, eight-speed automatic.
We first drove the facelifted C5 Aircross at the international launch back in the summer, and it's now time to see how the PureTech 130 petrol works in the UK.
Outside, like the plug-in hybrid alternative, the PureTech 130 gets the same, new 'vertical' and 'more assertive' look. This mainly centres around the new V-shaped LED light signature with darkened headlights, plus new gloss black grille with clever LED-like chrome detailing linking the chevrons to the light signatures. The final change at the front of the C5 Aircross is a revised bumper with skid plate. At the side, our Shine equipment grade test car was fitted with new, optional 19in "art" alloy wheels, and at the back, like the front, there are new lights - this time in '3D' design.
Inside the C5 Aircross, the changes are perhaps more minimal than the exterior. With the main alterations centring around a revised centre console, and a higher definition 10in touchscreen infotainment system placed high up. Having lived with a pre-facelift C5 Aircross, I didn't think there was a lot wrong with the interior. Citroen's comfort seats live up to their name, and it has a decent driving position. In the rear, the C5 Aircross scores points for its slidable three rear seats, which can be moved forward and back to aid boot space - yet legroom remains adequate.
We've tried the most-powerful version of the C5 Aircross already, so this time it's the turn of the least powerful, although the 1.2-litre PureTech still has 130hp. Despite being just a 1.2-litre, this engine belies its size by feeling more willing than you expect and matched here to a reasonably slick six-speed manual gearbox. Although it's 33% BIK figure, 140g/km emissions and 41.3-49.5mpg cannot get close to the PHEV's 8% liability, 32g/km and 222.3 mpg figures. No wonder Citroen still predicts a 65/35 percent split in favour of the PHEV.
Spec-wise, the Shine equipment grade is the middle option in the range. It includes niceties such as power, folding and body-coloured door mirrors, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, 18in alloy wheels (although as mentioned our car was fitted with optional 19in alloys), and automatic dual zone climate control.
Good manual gearbox or not, we think the optional eight-speed auto might be better suited to the comfortable and refined drive of this PureTech 130 equipped C5 Aircross. The impressive advanced comfort suspension system, even on the roughest road surfaces, cleverly absorbs most shocks and vibrations. Most, but not all, and in general you appreciate how composed the ride is - although every now and again this Citroen can feel both fidgety and floaty. More comfortable than dynamic, the handling itself is tidier than expected. Expect some bodyroll, but there is still a surprising amount of grip.
If you can make the figures work, hybrid or not, the C5 Aircross is the same comfortable, refined SUV it has always been. However, the PHEV remains our favourite, despite being the most expensive option, thanks to its low BIK figure bringing welcome day-to-day running cost savings and an extra layer of refinement.