Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Puretech petrol engine is punchy and refined
  • Diesels are economical and suited to auto transmission
  • PHEV makes a great case for itself

The Citroen C5 Aircross is available with a range of latest-generation Euro 6.2 engines and come in petrol-powered flavours: PureTech 130 S&S six-speed manual and PureTech 180 S&S EAT8 (eight-speed auto). There will also be three diesel versions: the BlueHDi 130 six-speed manual, BlueHDi 130 S&S EAT8 and BlueHDi 180 S&S EAT8. Citroen says that the new eight-speed auto is 7% more efficient than the outgoing six-speeder.

>> We rate the best hybrid SUVs for 2020

There's also a plug-in hybrid model with 225hp, which pairs the 180hp petrol engine with an electric motor and battery pack. It's capable of up to 40 miles on a charge, which is seriously impressive - that's more than enough for the huge majority of journeys most people make, allowing the C5 Aircross to operate much like an electric car for the majority of the time.

What's it like to drive?

Citroen C5 front tracking

We've driven both the PureTech petrol and BlueHDi versions in range-topping 180hp form, and both impressed for different reasons. In the case of the diesel, it pairs up well with the EAT8 transmission, resulting in a relaxed, laid-back driving experience that complements its overall refinement. It never feels fast (0-62mph in 11.5 seconds), just long-legged.

The PureTech petrol is refined and punchier (0-62mph takes 8.2 seconds) and also suits the nature of the C5 Aircross. Again, not quick feeling on the road, but more than happy to roll along at motorway speeds without feeling at all stressed.

Out of the pair, we'd forego the range and ultimate economy of the diesel version and head straight for the petrol because of its refinement and willing nature. We'll wait to give a definitive verdict until we've driven the 130hp twins, but given how good the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol is, we're willing to bet this one will be the star of the range.

Citroen C5 rear tracking

What's the plug-in hybrid like?

It's very good indeed. Though the most expensive C5 Aircross to buy by some margin, it ought to hit back fairly soon with its lower running costs, provided it's driven in a way conducive to that and charged up regularly.

It's the fastest model in the range by quite some margin, and though it's still no racing car there's a satisfying surge on acceleration as the petrol engine and electric motor work together. 

You can drive about on electric power for up to 40 miles if you're careful. You can do this either by forcing the car to stay in 'Electric' mode, or if you select 'Hybrid' then the C5 Aircross will shuffle its power source as it sees fit.

Handling

  • Definitely not a racing car
  • Rolls around in the corners
  • Comfort-biased

The C5 Aircross is not a sporty SUV, nor does it pretend to be one. Its 'Advanced Comfort' suspension does a great job of ironing out bumps, but the trade off is significant lean in the corners and light, uncommunicative steering.

A Volkswagen Touran is a much heavier and more reassuring steer, while a Ford Kuga is more enjoyable. Neither can hold a candle to the C5 Aircross for comfort on a long journey, though.