What is it?
The C5 Aircross is a car that Citroën should have launched years ago. The French brand has never offered a true Nissan Qashqai-rivalling SUV in the UK: the C4 Cactus is too small, and while Europe got a reskinned Mitsubishi ASX in the form of the C4 Aircross, it never came here.
Though we’re driving it for the first time here, the C5 Aircross has been on sale for more than a year. Citroën prioritised China as the volume market, first unveiling the car in Shanghai in April 2017. It’s due to land with British dealers before the year is out.
By taking its time to bring this car to fruition, Citroën argues it has been able to take a considered look at the segment’s offerings and pinpoint exactly where the C5 Aircross should be targeted. And it’s decided that comfort and practicality are two qualities conspicuous by their absence.
Unsurprisingly, the new car sits on the PSA Group’s EMP2 platform, shared with its Peugeot 3008, Vauxhall Grandland X and DS 7 Crossback siblings. All of the important oily bits from those cars are carried over to Citroën's SUV, including a broadly identical engine range. But, aside from the cheerfully un-aggressive styling, there are a few unique features.
It’s the second model, after the C4 Cactus, to make use of Citroën's rally-derived Progressive Hydraulic Cushion suspension - unique to the brand - which aims to revive some of the ‘magic carpet’ feeling old Citroens with hydropneumatic suspension were renowned for, but without the complexity.
The brand’s wide-reaching ‘Advanced Comfort’ programme also brings seats that wouldn’t look out of place in a high-end furniture store, acoustic glass and additional engine bay soundproofing.