Home / Reviews / First Drive / Citroën C5 Aircross Car India Review, Price, Specs

 

We drive the brand-new Citroën C5 Aircross, a true-bred French model that has just been introduced in the India car market.


Story: Sarmad Kadiri 

Photography: Sanjay Raikar

Citroën is a century-old French car brand which has just entered India. Their début model in India, the Citroën C5 Aircross, an SUV, has the huge responsibility of acquainting Indian car-buyers with the marque. It has the usual French quirks, which is a good thing, as the Citroën C5 Aircross does manage to distinguish itself from its rivals like the Korean Tucson and the American Compass.

Exterior Design
What truly makes the design stand out is its distinct face with the sleek dual grille, which in this age of exaggerated grille design is a welcome change. I also like the aggressive scoops on the bonnet and other funky elements such as the trapezoid accents on the front bumper and the thick side claddings. On the side, the C-shaped chrome trim that accentuates window lines and the black pillars that give a floating roof effect. The neat rear design comes with a full-sized tailgate and a pair of 3D-type LED tail-lamps in four distinct cube-like treatment.

In terms of size, the Citroën is wider and taller than its competition, including the spacious Volkswagen Tiguan AllSpace. The hurdle this new car will have to overcome is that there are larger SUVs available in India that cost a lot less. Whether the unusual French design will be acceptable to the Indian palate is something we need to wait and watch.

Interior
The cabin of the Citroën C5 Aircross gets an understated treatment but manages to look premium enough. The aesthetically contoured dashboard has soft-touch plastic on the top part, premium grey leather in the middle, but with basic plastic in the lower parts. To keep things tidy, Citroën designers have included a few soft-touch shortcut buttons for quick access to commonly used features such as music, a-c, navigation, driving modes, and phone. But you will still have to tap on the eight-inch touchscreen to control these features, which is not the most convenient thing to do on the go.

Seat Comfort
Citroën India have emphasizing on the comfort their cars offer and the seats of the C5 are probably among the most comfortable in a car in this price range. There’s the initial softness to the seats, followed by the firmer support underneath which ensure hours and hours of fatigue-free travelling. The driver’s seat comes with electrical adjustability, but the big talking point is that all the three rear seats can be individually slid forward or reclined/folded for greater flexibility and comfort. There’s abundant knee-room and a-c vents for rear passengers too.

Cabin Space
Space utilisation in the cabin is pretty good with the front door-pocket being large enough to hold a 1.5-litre bottle (the ones on the rear door are smaller, though) and there’s proper storage within the front arm-rest too. The overall fit and finish is pretty good and comes close to the C5’s German counterparts. There’s a class-leading boot space of 580 litres, which can be increased to 720 litres by moving the seats forward. Topple down the back-rest and this can be further increased to 1,630 litres.

Features
There a large 12.3-inch TFT digital instrument cluster which can be set to Personal, Minimal, and Dials configuration to suit your liking. What’s also cool is the joystick-like gear lever which gets a dedicated button to engage Manual gear-shift mode and the easy-to-operate terrain mode dial on the centre console. There’s a dedicated dock for one’s smartphone along with a 12-volt socket and a USB port.
We got to drive the entry-level Citroën C5 Aircross Feel trim, which misses out on some features that the Shine variant gets, such as a panoramic sunroof, hands-free electric tailgate, LED projector headlamp, and fog-lamps with cornering function. The rest of the kit remains intact, which includes useful driving aids like Park Assist, coffee break alert, blind-spot monitoring, hill descent assist along with hill start function, and the selectable traction control setting which includes Snow, ESC, and Sand. Even the rear camera gives a nice top-ish overview on the touchscreen which makes manoeuvring easy.

Engine
Internationally, Citroën have a range of engine options in respect of the C5 Aircoss, but India gets just one powertrain: the BlueHDi 2.0-litre diesel which comes with an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission. To start with, there will be no manual variant, nor a petrol engine option. This seems to be a good idea because the SUV is being imported as a completely knocked down (CKD) unit and keeping the options limited just reduces both the complications and the cost.

Performance
This 1,997-cc, four-cylinder oil-burner makes a respectable 177 hp at 3,750 rpm and builds an impressive 400 Nm of torque at just 2,000 rpm. This gives the C5 good low-end thrust and that works really well with the smooth automatic ’box, making it a very friendly car to drive in city traffic. The cabin insulation is terrific with double-laminated front windows with an insulating layer along with acoustic windscreen glass.

Feed in more fuel and the fairly responsive eight-speed helps build up speed steadily, making full use of the torque supply. The next obvious temptation is to control the gears manually through the steering-mounted control. In no time, and like most diesel cars, you quickly get hooked on the torquey drive as the Citroën chomps one milestone after another. The revs remain relaxed at almost all speeds and this adds a sense of plushness to the experience. The only issue with the diesel engine is that outside the cabin, it does get noisy when poked hard.

Ride and Handling
The biggest USP of this model is Citroën C5 Aircross’ superior suspension set-up; one that comes with progression hydraulic cushions, promising a Concorde-like ride. It truly does take the edge off sharp bumps, practically eliminating the metallic thud conventional suspensions emit while hitting a pothole or ditch. Though at low speed you can feel some of the road irregularities, it does ride over broken roads without losing its poise. Things improve quite a bit as you go faster, for this tall SUV has good body control and it remains fairly flat through fast corners. There’s no alarming wallowing or pitching, making it a safe and effortless car to drive.

The steering is light for my liking but is pretty accurate and reasonably communicative. The good news is that the light controls mean that it will be an easy car to live with within the city. It is not a 4×4 but does offer some pre-set traction control settings which can be managed through the rotary dial. This along with its high ground clearance and good all-round visibility enhance this front-wheel-drive crossover’s ability to tackle adverse road conditions.

Conclusion
The Citroën C5 Aircross has plenty going in its favour — right from its unconventionally attractive design, well-thought-out cabin, exceptional seating comfort, plenty of features, an efficient diesel heart, cushioned ride, and decent road manners. If Citroën India manage to price the crossover under Rs 25 lakh, it has the potential to make waves in the segment.

  • Citroen SUV C5 Aircross Car India drive
 

About the author: Sarmad Kadiri

 

 

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