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A distinctive-looking addition to a crowded market

PROS

  • Distinctive styling
  • Promise of comfort
  • Hybrid efficiency

CONS

  • Its styling will divide opinions

Verdict

Revealed at the 2017 Shanghai motor show, with UK and European sales due to begin in 2018, the Citroen C5 Aircross heralds a fresh attempt by the French marque to grab a slice of the competitive SUV segment.

It’s not Citroen’s first crossover of recent times: the distinctive – and lower-stanced – C4 Cactus has been on sale since 2014, while the seven-seater C-Crosser was a clone of the previous-generation Mitsubishi Outlander.

But the C5 Aircross is an altogether different proposition, sitting between the Peugeot 3008 and 5008 in terms of size, SUVs it shares much of its underpinnings and mechanical components with.

Similarly, it’s closely related to not only the DS 7 Crossback, but also the Vauxhall Grandland X, both of which also go on sale in 2018.

It won’t be the only new SUV from Citroen either, with a C3 Aircross set to replace the ageing C3 Picasso in the brand’s line-up within 12 months.

What makes the C5 Aircross different?

One of the pillars Citroen forged its reputation on was comfort, a trait the firm’s bosses are keen to focus their attention on with forthcoming models.

The C5 Aircross is the first model designed with the Citroen Advanced Comfort philosophy in mind from the start, although we have driven a prototype C4 Cactus with some of the future technology installed.

Chief among the hardware changes is a suspension set-up with what Citroen calls Progressive Hydraulic Cushions. It won’t completely replicate the famed ‘magic carpet’ ride of hydropneumatic Citroens of old, but the claim is that it will iron out the majority of surface imperfections without making the C5 Aircross list like a ship whenever you encounter a corner.

Furthermore, Citroen’s equipped the C5 Aircross with sofa-like seats – something already seen on the C4 Cactus – with a massage function optionally available for the front pair and a reclining backrest for the rear bench.

The cabin will be trimmed in soothing hues, although whether these reach the UK on right-hand drive models remains to be seen, while double-glazed acoustic-insulating glass will also be available.

Distinctive and functional styling

Recent hallmarks of Citroen’s distinctive design language are present and correct with the C5 Aircross, not least the eyebrow-like LED day-running lights with main headlamp units nestled separately below, along with a smattering of Airbumps – think toughened bubble wrap – along the lower edges of the doors for a dash of rugged protection.

Unique – so far, at least – to the C5 Aircross are the chrome-look hoop around the side-door windows, with a subtle third piece of glass appearing blacked-out towards the back.

LED-rich tail lamps are bisected by a wide-opening tailgate, while the exterior can be gussied-up further with flashes of red detailing – it’s unclear yet whether other colour swatches will be available.

There’s an upmarket look to the distinctive cabin, boasting a 12.3-inch infotainment screen on high-spec versions, with a wide centre console and an electronic instrument binnacle directly ahead of the driver.

It also features a number of luggage-inspired design details – again a nod to the C4 Cactus – but we expect an uplift in material quality given the C5 Aircross’s higher price point.

As you would expect of a contemporary car, connected online services will be available, as will a host of driver-assistance systems tasked with preventing you from being involved in an accident.

C5 Aircross engine range to be revealed

Although the precise engine line-up for British sales won’t be confirmed until much nearer the C5 Aircross’s 2018 on-sale date, it’s reasonable to expect it to feature both petrol PureTech and diesel BlueHDi units in a variety of outputs and efficiency levels to suit differing needs.

Manual and automatic gearboxes are likely to feature.

What has been confirmed is that the SUV will be available with a 300hp petrol-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain shortly after launch, the only model in the range with four-wheel drive.

There’s no word yet on fuel economy or CO2 emissions, but Citroen’s tentatively suggested a 36-mile theoretical electric-only range for the hybrid.

When can you buy one?

Citroen has yet to reveal prices for its all-new C5 Aircross SUV range but expect them to be higher than similarly-engined Peugeot 3008s when prices are announced in 2018.

We’ll be putting this striking new crossover to the test as soon as European-spec versions are available, when we will discover if the Citroen lives up to its comfortable promise.

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