There are some days that live long in the memory and some cars that accentuate the experience even further. Cars that compliment the journey so well that it’s almost impossible to imagine completing one without the other. And for this day, the destination was to be Millbrook Proving Ground, Bedford a journey which, according to Google maps, is approximately 165 miles from MotorMartin’s base in Bradford and was predicted to take around 3 hours each way. Of course, what you want/need on a 300+ mile day is something comfortable, economical and packed with technology that will make the journey easier whilst providing you with entertainment along the way. What then to choose?
With Citroën introducing their great looking C5 Aircross not so long ago, a car which harks back to the innovations and Gallic eccentricities of days gone by, it would seem like a more than ideal opportunity to assess what’s been going on with what Citroën are calling their ‘Comfort class SUV.’ Indeed, with Citroën believing that there is a Citroën for everyone. Around town or across the country, every Citroën provides pure comfort and a welcoming environment. It’s always been this way, a road trip is surely going to answer the questions raised by interested spectators.
The exterior of the C5 sings from the same hymn sheet as it’s smaller brothers and sisters and is certainly none the worse for this with a particularly distinctive front end displaying Halogen headlights (low & high beam), Front fog lights with cornering function, incredibly sleek LED day-time running lights, LED front indicators and that rather iconic double chevron design front grille. At the bottom of the doors Citroën have deployed their unique and distinctive Airbump® (bodywork saving) technology whilst subtle use of chrome on the window surrounds and rear privacy glass helps to create a rather more upmarket look than is perhaps the norm.
And so it came to pass that MotorMartin found himself seated, rather comfortably, in the cabin of the C5. There’s just so much to take in on first sitting. The plethora of recurring Airbump® forms, from the door cards, air vents, door handles and even the dials directly in front of you give the impression that your sat inside something pretty special. Indeed, the cabin has a feeling of integration that goes far beyond that which you would expect and allows Citroën’s bold and imaginative interior choices to meld together beautifully.
What else grabs your attention? Perhaps it’s the typically SUV high driving position affording you great all round visibility, the premium feel from the extremely comfortable (and very Citroën) grey grained leather and graphite cloth seats with their lighter grey band complementing the grey centre console and dash. Or maybe it’s the horizontal lines of the dashboard which subtly incorporate a range of useful technology such as the 8” touch screen located centrally amongst the Airbump® aping air vents. A touchscreen that allows access to the thoroughly up to date Bluetooth phone connection, SAT NAV, climate control, music streaming, Android Auto, Apple CarPlayTM and MirrorLink®. Whichever way you look at it, the C5 Aircross is a special place to spend time in. And that’s before you consider the amount of space and light created by the panoramic glass roof fitted to this Flair edition.
Technological advancement has long been part of Citroën’s essential DNA and is another area where the C5 Aircross doesn’t disappoint, highlights of which, in MotorMartin’s opinion, include: HIGHWAY DRIVER ASSIST – A system that maintains your position and speed in a chosen lane and manages stopping and restarting to exactly match the movements of vehicles in front. ADAPTIVE CRUISE CONTROL WITH STOP&GO FUNCTION – Using a camera, the system detects the vehicle in front and automatically maintains a safe distance chosen by you, it can even safely stop and move off without any driver action which makes for a very relaxing drive. ACTIVE LANE DEPARTURE WARNING SYSTEM – again, using a camera, the Aircross recognises different road markings and gently steers the car back into the correct lane if it detects a change in direction without the indicators.
Once on the move the surprises keep on coming, after all, would you expect Citroën’s 12.3” TFT digital instrument panel to be looking back at you from behind the steering wheel? A dash that can be personalised to display a variety of different information depending upon what is important to you as well as car details and even the navigation system across the complete width of the screen. Indeed, this type of innovation has been a mainstay of the range since day one as part of the CX’s success way back in 1974 is attributed by Citroën to it’s futuristic dashboard. This is indeed impressive stuff and is another example as to why the Aircross was the car of choice for traversing this green and pleasant land of ours.
All of this technology is no good though if it creates a drive that feels too distant or uninvolved for all concerned, after all you expect a little something extra when driving a Citroën, something that harks back to and celebrates the avant- garde history behind the marque.
Once driving you quickly realise how successfully this C5 links up with models gone by as the quality of the ride is just sublime. Citroën themselves call this the flying carpet effect and go on to explain how their newly developed Progressive Hydraulic Cushions® help to redefine pure driving comfort. Smoothing away both large bumps and minor surface imperfections. But does it work? The short answer is yes, the longer answer is most definitely. What this means for the driver is that the Aircross, a relaxing car already due to the excellent seats and interior, rapidly moves itself above comparable SUVs and nudges itself up against far more expensive rivals when it comes to the control and comfort afforded by this clever suspension. Longer journeys become a luxury to look forward to rather than a chore to be undertaken, exactly as they should be when owning a larger Citroën.
With Citroën’s 8-speed automatic gearbox busying itself in the background, working in conjunction with the adaptive cruise control, the Aircross proves itself to be a superb long distance cruiser and a perfect choice for the journey down to Bedfordshire. After all, you have that clever suspension previously discussed providing that flying carpet effect ride, perfect for our beautifully (sic) surfaced motorways, A and B roads, and technological advances across the SUV that improve safety and reduce driver stress allowing you to enjoy the experiences that a motoring adventure allow.
The engine in this particular C5 is the BlueHDi 130 S&S iteration which, as the name suggests, provides you with 129 bhp at 3750 rpm. There’s also torque of 300 Nm at a very low 1750 rpm, CO2 emissions of 108 g/km and a maximum claimed economy of up to 56.3 mpg and this from a turbo charged direct injection diesel engine only displacing 1499cc. Clever stuff indeed. Let us not forget, this is a full size family SUV with excellent interior space, a boot that can swallow up to 720 litres VDA to the parcel shelf and yet can stiff offer up excellent fuel economy, power, emissions and torque.
After 330 miles in a day and many countless more over the remainder of the week, it’s safe to say that the Citroën C5 Aircross BlueHDi 130 S&S EAT8 automatic proves itself to be an excellent choice for the modern driver who wants something a little different from the mainstream. Someone who appreciates that style, comfort and practicality can sometimes combine in such a way that you wonder why it hasn’t been done before. At least by someone other than Citroën that is. Put simply. This is a great car and one that you’d be proud to own.
Where will you go?