Citroen C5 Aircross

C5 Aircross stars on shock cross-country trip

It was perhaps fortuitous that we had a Citroen C5 Aircross in the driveway latish that Sunday morning. Nothing was planned, but as it sometimes happened the call came, “If you want him you need to come now.” So we quickly all got dressed, piled into Citroen SA’s new flagship and headed to George as the ad had suggested.

I was still chasing my PR deadline reporting local lad Jordan Pepper winning the Aussie Bathurst Intercontinental GT 12 hour, so I hopped in the leftmost of that rear bench with its three individual sliding, folding and reclining pews and soon found myself quite comfortable with quite a lot of space to spare. Once over the pass, I started tapping away to the waiting world — its not clever to try immerse yourself in the cyber world on a twisty road.

My intrepid driver reported the Citroen to be a little less deft than he’d like on turn-in, but he was happier with the gear selection logic once I told him to finger the Sport button. For the rest I was satisfied and comfy in the back once we started to reel off the miles. Trouble was someone had misread the instructions and we were actually not quite on the correct road to the our beagle breeder destination. It was actually 150km further up the road, other side Willowmore…

No trouble — I mentioned that was a spectacular drive, which certainly proved even cooler by Aircross. Even from where I sat in the back it was clear that this Citroen is set to cause a flutter in the SUV midfield. Boasting its own unique blend of styling, this Frenchman takes a step sideways to many an existing executive sportute owner faced with a tighter budget in these trying fiscal climes. 

First of all its practical — even my six-foot hundred-kilo plus frame was comfy in that aircon refined rear cocoon and while we did not need it, that boot is cavernous at the 520 litres with the seats in the fully comfortable position. It will expand all the way to to 720 litres with the three rear pews shifted furthest forward, never mind a cavernous 1,630 litres of space to play with the chairs laid flat. Talk about maximum practicality.

I sat in the back all the way on that six hour trip up, stopping only once for a quick coffee and to stretch the legs at Mossel Bay, before popping over the Outeniqua pass and up the glorious road past Uniondale and Willowmore to our deep-Karoo destination, where we excitedly met out little fella for the first time. 

All of 8 weeks old, we got to know him a little better as we turned tail and headed toward home and into a glorious Karooo sunset as mom took the wheel and loved every second of that bit of the trip while we agreed to christen our brand new beagle puppy Bentley. Quite appropriate on that day.

We fuelled up again at Oudtshoorn, where I took the wheel into the dark and I was not just hugely impressed by the lighting, but also immediately at home at the wheel. C5 Aircross’ Progressive Hydraulic Cushion damper suspension, advanced comfort seats and advanced soundproofing take that magique carpet ride next level, while it’s a pleasure to interact with.

Citroen has made a clear shift towards its ancient strengths of luxury and style — you may notice that it is no longer in the WRC, either. That's because they are more pushing sister as Peugeot as the performance brand among PSA’s French badges and while I have to concur that the car is a little less sharp than some more sport-oriented brands, it does everything very well for the luxury cruiser it is being made out to be.

Its instrumentation is crisp and clear day and night and that 8-inch infotainment touchscreen easy to get on with, especially with my iPhone hooked up to the car via Apple Car Play (and there’s that Android thing too). Even better, C5 Aircross' 121kW 240Nm 1.6-litre turbo petrol 4-pot sits well with the EAT6 autobox and while I pushed on through the night down the 62, I was able to prune the fuel readout down handsomely versus what my intrepid co-drivers had achieved, as we I went.

We introduced Bentley Beagle to his new home just short of thirteen hours of driving later and next day, we strapped the VBox to it and the car performed handsomely too. No, we'd never planned a trip like that, but sometimes it needs something of a surprise like that to put into proper perspective just how good a car really is. 

I came away most impressed with the Citroen C5 Aircross, which gained even further kudos when I typed the price int at the bottom of this report. It really is an all-round winner. — Michele Lupini

ROAD TEST - Citroen C5 Aircross 1.6T Feel
Engine: 121kW240Nm 1.66-litre turbo petrol I4                 
Drive: 6-speed automatic FWD
0-60km/h:                4.14 sec
0-100km/h:              9.66 sec                      
0-160km/h:              25.87 sec       
400m:                       16.7 sec @ 134km/h            
80-120km/h:            6.97 sec
120-160km/h:          12.40 sec          
VMax:                        189km/h                               
Fuel:                           7.9 l/100km                         
CO2:                           179 g/km
Warranty/Service:    5y 100K/5y 100K
LIST PRICE:                 R474K           
RATED:                        7