Why we ran it: To see if there’s more to this funky plug-in SUV than a tax-friendly CO2 rating
Month 4 - Month 3 - Month 2 - Month 1 - Prices and specs
Life with a C5 Aircross PHEV: Month 4
Would we recommend this family SUV to those looking for a practical PHEV? - 9 June 2021
There have been a hell of a lot of firsts within the car world in recent years, and the deluge shows no sign of slowing. The C5 Aircross PHEV was one of them, arriving last year as Citroën’s first plug-in hybrid – and already the French firm has followed it up with another: its first mainstream electric car, the ë-C4.
The ë-C4 will probably come to be viewed as much more of a landmark in Citroën’s long history, but I would argue that the C5 PHEV is probably more important through the lens of the typical buyer right now.
That’s because SUVs are the cars in by far the greatest demand, while PHEVs are a more secure stepping stone into the future than EVs. Plus, they incur similarly low VED and BIK tax bills, thanks to their unbelievably high official fuel economy and low CO2 emissions figures.
‘Unbelievably high’ sounds quite strong, but the C5 PHEV officially should achieve as much as 222.3mpg. In its time with ex-road tester Simon Davis and then with me, it returned an average of 64.1mpg. That’s a more realistic figure for most people, because we weren’t able to charge the 13.2kWh battery especially regularly, due to our living circumstances. Mind you, had I been able to charge the battery at home, I reckon I could have chased the ‘unbelievable’ figure, because I only ever drive in town these days – and there are plenty more people who would get much better returns, if not quite 222mpg.
When there was some charge in its battery, I found that the C5 operated slickly as a mock EV, being whisper- quiet and as nippy as some full EVs. Plus, its regenerative braking was very strong in B mode, allowing me to eke out that energy.
Back in the depths of winter, Davis was managing only around 17 miles in EV mode from an official 33, but I estimate that I got into the mid-20s at a minimum in the warmer weeks. That’s decent, although there are more efficient PHEVs, plus some (pricier ones) with bigger batteries and thus longer electric ranges.