Okay, I get it. The Citron C3 Aircross might be a little too baby-faced for some. But if that’s the case, you needn’t look far as Citroen has a more mature option for those of us who don’t like ice in our whisky.
If the Citroen C3 Aircross was a schoolboy, the C5 Aircross is the big brother accountant. But behind the blazer of its three-piece suit, it still wears a colourful tie. Lift a trouser leg, and you’ll find a striking Christmas sock. Yes, the C5 has certainly matured and with that has followed straighter body lines, more typical SUV proportions, and plenty more to offer. After all, this is Citroen’s flagship car, with the same underpinnings as the brilliant Peugeot 3008 that I love so much.
My test car was the ‘Flair’ model, and it certainly has that compared to its competitors on the road with hints of contrasting colour to the lower sides and front bumper. This continues inside where it seems as though its designers had forgotten their rulers that day. Ovals and curves dominate the design language and slightly bulbous vent housing remind you that this is oh-so-French.
Unfortunately, while the seats are bathed in oceans of leather and the central transmission tunnel is equally as high a quality, the upper dashboard and doors do retain some cheap plastics. But who can complain? This is not an expensive car sat at just £30,830 as tested, and the overall feel of the interior is plush and so very comfortable.
My only complaint is with the 8-inch touch screen. Almost everything is controlled through this, including the dual-zone climate control which makes changing the temperature or radio station while driving a complete faff. Touch-sensitive shortcut buttons below the screen make this a bit easier to navigate through, but it does make me miss physical buttons. Despite this, the car does offer speech recognition, but I’m not sure I have the patience.
Behind the steering wheel, however, sits another digital screen which comes as standard. This, simply, is brilliant. And allows you to toggle through different styles of layout to match your driving style. In fact, this car is dominated by technology, including front and back parking sensors, a 360-degree surround camera setup, AppleCarplay and Android Auto, wireless charging below the main dash area, and even a built-in dashcam. You’d struggle to want for more.
On the road, the C5 Aircross is classic Citroen with plenty of suspension travel and an almost unbeatable ride thanks to Progressive Hydraulic Cushions. These stop the car from bottoming out over a pothole or the like, and means the overall damping can be a lot softer than usually required. Paired with the Advanced Comfort Seats option, which boasts an extra 15mm of thick foam, you might find yourself taking the long way home.
On the fast stuff, the chassis can be a little fidgety, but only I am stupid enough to expect more from a car that focusses on comfort above all else. It rolls from side to side and dives under hard braking, but the sumptuous ride means this is a worthy sacrifice. The engine, in my case a 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo isn’t anything to write home about. The car can move under its 178bhp, but I do believe that one of the diesel options, preferably the 2-litre, would suit this car to a tee. The 8-speed auto ‘box is buttery smooth, and the steering light for quick and easy manoeuvring of this large vehicle.
One slight complaint is the fact that, like all other Peugeot and Citroen SUVs, this car is only available in FWD. This does, however, keep the car nice and light at only 1,430kg meaning I was treated to a fuel economy of around 45mpg.
So what’s the verdict, then? There’s no denying that PSA as a whole is at the top of its game. Long gone are the MPVs, and in their place sit some of the best more budget SUVs on the market. The question is simply, would you spend more on the more refined 3008, or spend less and enjoy the soft cradling of one of the best riding cars I’ve driven? If it’s the latter, then put on your colourful Christmas socks and head down to your local Citroen dealer now.