Great Britain

Citroen C5 Aircross SUV delivers value, comfort, versatility and car maker’s first hybrid

WE all know Citroen has a long history of quirky, offbeat cars.

Think of old favourites like the 2CV, DS, SM and more recently the Picasso, Berlingo and C4 Cactus.

But Citroen, like many of the big players, is now fighting for its long-term survival after years of falling sales.

Its slow adoption of hybrid technology hasn’t helped. Toyota has been doing it since 1997.

Citroen’s first hybrid goes on sale this summer, a petrol/electric version of its range-topping C5 Aircross SUV.

Its first pure electric model ­— a family hatchback — will hit showrooms next year.

Every Citroen will be electrified by 2025.

It makes sense to use the C5 Aircross as the first hybrid because it delivers in spades what Citroen does best — style, comfort, versatility and relative affordability.

Let’s start with the looks.

Not only do those colour-coded plastic air bumps catch the eye, they protect the bodywork from car park dinks. It’s super-comfy, too. The wide sofa-like seats combine with progressive hydraulic suspension to smooth out the bumps and potholes that literally make our cheesegrater roads such a pain.

And the Aircross is a proper five-seater for adults — a sliding rear bench adding to the practicality of a 720-litre boot with two floor heights.

That increases to 1630 litres with the back seats folded down flat, which is the best in class.

There are lots of family-friendly cubbyholes — the centre console can store a 1.5-litre bottle — and the interior quality will stand up to the wear and tear caused by a young family.

Driver tech includes adaptive cruise control and the 8in touchscreen has all the phone connectivity you would expect, for maps, music and more.

You will not be entertained with driving thrills because this is just a family SUV to transport you from A to B.

But the 2-litre diesel is quiet enough at speed, the automatic gearbox is buttery-smooth and you get the economy bonus of 40mpg-plus.

Another practical touch is the Grip Control system, which should keep you moving in winter when conditions get sticky.

Then there’s the feet-off-the-pedals Hill Descent mode that allows the car to ease itself slowly down a hill, on and off the brakes, as you just steer.

The Sun tested this on the UK’s steepest street, with a gradient of 28.6 per cent — Ffordd Pen Llech, in the town of Harlech, Snowdonia — and it handled the challenge with considerable ease.

To sum up, then, the C5 Aircross is a strong contender for families who value comfort and versatility. The hybrid version will only add to its appeal.

KEY FACTS: CITROEN C5 AIRCROSS

Price: £31,135

Engine: 2-litre turbo diesel

Power: 178hp, 400Nm

0-62mph: 8.6 secs

Top speed: 131 mph

Economy: 42mpg

CO2: 124g/km

Out: Now

The Sun puts to test Citroen's Berlingo 'worker' van at Langley Park Rally School in Essex

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