Citroen C5 Aircross review: A facelift that fits all the family

The Citroen C5 Aircross is a sensible choice for families
Citroen C5 Aircross review: A facelift that fits all the family

Citroen C5 Aircross





from €38,690 - €45,100 as tested in C-Series Edition trim


a 1.5-litre turbodiesel with 130bhp

The Spec

pretty loaded


why don't more people like it?

Like those for humans, facelifts can sometimes revitalise the sagging folds of a car.

As is also the case with us two-legged beasts, a properly worked facelift can revive dreams of youth and perhaps even make us more attractive to existing or potential partners.

Sometimes, facelifts can go even further than just skin deep and reach into the gooey internals to provide refreshment to the bits you rarely see.

In the case of this week’s tester, the Citroen C5 Aircross, the facelift it has received is cosmetic only and none of the oily bits have been tampered with – or upgraded, sorry. No, this thing has been to the nip and tuck specialist – just four years after it was launched in Europe – and been given a good sprucing.

Post-facelift, under the skin it remains the same beast it always was with a big emphasis on practicality, comfort and ride quality – and sure, isn’t that the case with most human beings too. The exterior, however, has been transformed.

If you’re playing ‘Spot The Difference’, you’ll need to know that there is a “more assertive’ bumper and lights combination at the front, along with a new, deeper airdam (which is also in shiny chrome too) on offer here and, at the back, new 3-D lights, while the wheels have also come in for a touch-up.

Inside there is a new high definition 10” infotainment screen fitted in to the redesigned centre console. And that’s it.

Something of a minor refresh then, but you can sense something of the frustration in-house at Citroen because what they have on their hands here is a very smart, practical, commodious and economic family car that they’re not selling much of.

Hereabouts and to the end of last month, Citroen itself was only the 20th most popular marque sold in Ireland, with a total of 413 units sold – some 21.6% less than they sold in the same period last year. Their best model in sales terms was – guess what – the C5 Aircross with 165 of them having been registered.

Citroen C5 Aircross stylish interior
Citroen C5 Aircross stylish interior

That might sound good – and especially when you factor in that only 87 were sold in the same timeframe last year and that year-on-year it has recorded an 89.6% uptick – but the car was nevertheless only the 66th best-selling car in the state. In truth, that level of sales is only barely keeping the lights on a Citroen HQ in Dublin.

But, in many ways, the state of play is something of a shame because this is a really neat car and it is no surprise it is top of the Citroen charts. While there are aspects of it – especially the diesel tester – which could be improved upon, there are many other characteristics which make it as close to ideal when it comes to what families need in their motors.

Given that the opposition here includes such as Ford’s Kuga, the Skoda Karoq, the Kia Sportage and the all-conquering Nissan Qashqai – to name but four of them – the Citroen has plenty of opposition for sure, but that doesn’t explain why it is seemingly overlooked in the manner it is.

Stuff like the three individual rear seats which can accommodate three child seats and/or boosters makes this thing immediately identifiable as family-friendly, even though only the outer two are equipped with ISOFIX, which is a little mystifying and something of an obvious gap in the car’s armoury.

That Citroen has chosen to equip the front passenger seat with ISOFIX instead of the one in the middle of the three rear ones, makes up for this lapse somewhat, but if you have three bambinos and two adults does one of the grown-ups have to sit in the back? It all seems a little odd.

The upside in that all three rear seats can be folded away individually and collectively and when stowed the boot space grows from a generous 580 litres to a massive 1,630.

Comfort being one of the traditional Citroen strong points you would expect lots of it here – and you will not be disappointed. The company’s ‘Advance Comfort’ policy sees the seats come with an uprated design which underlines their ‘fauteuil’ – that’s armchair to you – qualities which are among the best in the business.

This applies to the suspension as well as the car is fitted with the company’s ‘Progressive Hydraulic Cushion’ suspension which is nothing like as complicated as their old hydropneumatic layout and nothing like as sophisticated when it comes to quality of the ride delivered.

Citroen C5 Aircross
Citroen C5 Aircross

The system is based around replacing the old rubber bump stops with reservoirs of hydraulic fluid which give you what might be termed a soft landing, rather than killing you with the sudden stop. 

This does step the car’s performance up – and particularly so on some of our awful road surfaces – to deliver a better-than-normal ride quality, but it is still a bit away from the magic carpet ride of old.

Still, the emphasis on comfort levels is pretty top notch and the C5 Aircross is most certainly among the class leaders in this regard.

That’s possibly just as well because the 1.5 litre turbodiesel is beginning to show cracks – and especially so when other bits of the car are sophisticated. It’s a decent engine – what with 300 Nm of torque, 130 bhp on offer and a decent enough 10.3 second 0-100 km/h time – but it does tend to run out of steam when pressed.

That said, for those born without the Max Verstappen speed gene, it will probably provide endlessly sensible motoring – but nothing terribly exciting. But when you consider that it will regularly return 5.3 litres per 100 km (52 mpg) and that you should get around 1,000 km off a full tank, then everything swings back to the family-oriented nature of the car.

Throw in an excellent and easy-to-use infotainment system (although it is not quite as up-to-date as those in the current Peugeot 308 and the DS4 – erstwhile stablemates) and an interior which is dotted with big storage spaces – including a ginormous one between the front seats – and the family thing once again rears its head.

The facelift of the car might be more Botox than bone surgery, but the car is still fresh looking and sharp, even if some of the plastics used on the interior are scratchy and unpleasant. The drive might not be stirring in many regards, but this is a beast that will get the job done with considerable elan.

All the plusses on the good side of the assessment leger suggest this is a car which should sell well – a lot better than it does in fact. 

But there was nothing here to suggest that it could not perform a lot better than it has been doing.

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