Citroën C5 Aircross
0-62mph 10.5 seconds
Top speed 117mph
In these bruisingly divisive times, there is one thing, at least, that we can agree on: potholes. “Craters”, as the tabloids call them, are a source of neverending dismay for drivers and cyclists. According to the Asphalt Industry Alliance, almost 1.7m potholes were filled in England and Wales last year – an astonishing one every 19 seconds. Sadly, the gaping cavern I have to swerve round each morning has so far evaded their attentions. And with all this rain, it’s now become a water feature. Green Flag estimates that dropping into potholes causes our cars an average of £230 per year on repairs – mostly to tyres and suspension.
If you have a horror of thudding into these damaging craters, you might want to consider Citroën’s new C5 Aircross. The word “Aircross” gives you a clue what this versatile family SUV is all about: comfort – bone-easing, rump-cherishing, head-soothing comfort. Beneath the sunny paintwork it bristles with some seriously smart advances. Chief among them is the Progressive Hydraulic Cushion. Citroën says this is a world first. Essentially, a pair of hydraulic stops have been added to each shock absorber, one for rebound and the other for compression. They soak up the jolts to deliver a “magic carpet ride”. The effect is wonderfully calming.
From the outside, the car looks like a riot of moulded panels and strange oblong shapes. But live with it for a day or two and its wilfully outlandish styling starts to look kinda kookie and kinda cool. Clamber inside and you’ll find a happy-go-lucky vehicle determined not to take itself too seriously. It comes with 30 exterior combinations and three interior “ambiences”. It’s all rounded corners and geometric shapes. It has charm, though to call it charismatic would be a push.
This SUV category is often marketed on its sportiness. If that’s what you are after, you’ll be unimpressed. If, however, you want to ferry people and clobber around in comfort and with a degree of style, you’ll find much to cheer about. It’s well-equipped with driver and safety aids. Large and useful cubbies and storage bins are plentiful. Instruments are fully digital and you can choose between various graphics. There’s a built-in dashcam that records and automatically sends images to your phone if you are involved in a heavy-braking incident. You could also use it to record a scenic journey.
Usually cars are sold on the power of their engines, but these days units are so efficient and reliable they often seem to be mentioned only as an after-thought. On Citroën’s website, the engine is actually the last thing addressed. If you’re interested, the C5 Aircross comes with a choice of Peugeot-Citroën engines. I drove the smallest – a resolute 1.2-litre petrol unit. It was unshowy, practical and got the job done. Just what you want, in fact. A plug-in hybrid is due in 2020. So, we have a hard-working soft-rider determined to smooth out your drive – and some of life’s obstacles, too. Give it a go.
Email Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter@MartinLove166