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Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

The straight-line performance of our test car was mostly in line with the claims. A 0-60mph time of 9.0sec falls about half a second behind the official take, but given that we test two-up, full of fuel and, this time, on a cold and low-traction morning, it’s not far from where you’d expect a tall, automatic 174bhp SUV to be; with the eight-speed auto seemingly hooking up quickly and shuffling through shifts briskly and effectively.

This 2.0 diesel engine is a quiet unit most of the time. At idle, lower speeds and cruising, you’ll not hear it often, although when accelerating gently, it becomes audible, and if you work it harder, there’s a notable and slightly irritating, albeit muted, top-end clatter. Step-off is smooth, though, and shifts on part-throttle are pretty much undetectable.

Torquey diesel engine was plenty capable of providing enough grunt to haul the C5 Aircross’s 1540kg mass uphill

You can take control of the gearshifts yourself via the column-mounted paddles, although it’s hard to imagine owners will particularly often. Ditto the variable drive modes. Push the Eco button on the centre console and responses get a bit treacly, and if you just adjust your accelerative style, you can achieve the same results.

Push the Sport button and you’d really have to be pressing on to appreciate the willingness of the gearbox to kick down and hold a lower gear; more so, again, than we can imagine any buyer being particularly inclined to. No, normal mode is where it defaults, where it’s at its best and where, we suspect, it’ll stay.

Braking performance is good and there’s decent feel through the pedal when you’re moving. Coming to a graceful halt, though, is another matter. As you’re decelerating to a stop and creeping gently towards rest, control of the deceleration is taken away from you over the last mph or two and the C5 snatches to a halt. Perhaps it’s the gearbox operation or perhaps the stop/start (certainly, it’s a touch better without that engaged) but it doesn’t seem to be an overzealous electronic park brake.

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Either way, there’s no evident way to drive around it and, for a car whose drivetrain is otherwise mooching personified, it is exceptionally irritating.