If you’re looking for an allegory for the C5 Aircoss, consider this: if you nudge the windscreen wiper stalk down for a one-flick wipe of the screen, you also activate – or deactivate, if they were on – the automatic wipers. So to give the windscreen a one-flick wipe but revert to the original automatic wiper state, you must push the stalk twice.

Similarly, want to turn up the temperature gauge by a degree while the bold, attractively designed central touchscreen is showing, say, the media or navigation? It’ll be four presses in different places before you’re back to where you started.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Cabin is decidedly monochrome. Standard-fit Advanced Comfort seats are indeed comfortable, but electronic adjustment of the passenger seat would be nice

The Aircross’s infotainment system is what happens when you put an overdependence on touchscreens, even though there is a supplementary set of shortcut buttons beneath the 8.0in screen, and a row of real buttons below that on the dashboard, plus another couple on the centre console.

Given those supplements, you’d think it would be possible to contrive an easily navigable set of functions, but alas no. As a rule, Citroën’s menus are more complex to fumble around than, say, Volvo’s all-touch version, or our regular benchmark, BMW’s i-Drive. All you’d want – DAB radio, navigation, personalisable 12in instruments and so on – are present but the system is slow to respond, and if you’ve selected reverse to bring up cameras, it’s then impossible to bring up another screen until you’ve driven off forwards. And to put the temperature control in one of these menus is unforgivable.

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Ultimately, what you’ll likely end up doing is finding a temperature that just about works and putting up with it, and mirroring your phone for everything else.

The C5 Aircross’s cabin, then, isn’t exactly a paragon of ergonomic excellence, which is a shame because there’s a lot about this interior that’s easy to like.

The seats are well positioned and comfortable, if flattish, and there are well-spaced pedals and a nicely aligned, small wheel. You get plenty of space in the front and three individual sliding and folding chairs in the rear, in front of a big boot.

Funky trims abound and material quality feels strong, too. Plenty of different surface finishes make it feel a busy interior, but for the driver, they’re soft under your arms, soft on the dash top and squidgy on the door tops, and the doors have metal handles. The buttons on the steering wheel are superior in feel, we’d say, to the latest output from Mercedes, although the cruise control stalk is as hidden and unfathomable and flimsy as ever, and right-hand-drive cars get only half a glovebox.

As a driving environment, then, it’s a conflicted place: at once frustrating yet also accommodating and pleasing, a theme that extends as far as the digital instrument binnacle. The big speedo is supplemented by a retro horizontal one that scrolls along the top of the display. Yet even if you put the customisable panel into ‘dials’ mode, the rev counter remains a tiny, undecipherable line that gives you only a vague idea of the engine speed. Which suggests that, if you’re interested in driving, the C5 Aircross might not be for you. So let’s see.

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