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Steering, suspension and comfort

Much has been made of Citroën’s widely heralded Progressive Hydraulic Cushions, fitted here, but, as on the C4 Cactus, if you’re expecting a softness of ride quality that makes you think time has turned back 40 years, you’ll be disappointed.

What they do, though, is give the C5 Aircross a pliancy that’s missing from most of today’s rivals, although given our test car rode on 55-profile tyres, you’d have hoped that the generous sidewall would give it some anyway.

It rides with pliancy, but it’s not a ‘magic carpet’ - and the softness of the suspension means you’ll strive to be measured with your braking, steering and throttle inputs

Bump absorption is good, though, and there’s never any harshness regardless of what surface you’re cruising over. There’s a touch of road noise at speed but the moochability, the ease with which an Aircross goes about daily driving, is generally good.

Allied to that is a reasonable amount of lean, which is unsurprising – the point of the hydraulic bump-stops is that Citroën can soften the meat of the ride because there isn’t a harsh end to its travels – and, as a result, it pays to be smooth with the controls. Be harsh with the steering, brakes or throttle and you can get out of phase with the ride, so the Aircross is very much a car that’s best with measured inputs.

The steering is light. Perhaps it’s overly light, and although it firms up with a press of the Sport button, that only ever adds some extra faux weight. There’s nothing here that strikes you as genuine road feel or feedback. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in itself. Most cars of this type have only an approximation of road feel, and it’s accurate enough. But if it’s going to be remote, then a more consistent weighting and a freedom from steering corruption would be nice alongside it.

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Instead, the first bit of wheel travel evokes nothing, and then there’s an over-quick response that, combined with the suspension’s softness, makes this car harder to drive smoothly than you’d hope. And if you’re on a moderate throttle or more, while there’s nothing you’d clearly define as torque steer, there’s definite corruption: sometimes pulling the wheel straight, sometimes pulling it into a corner, but more likely just making it feel stickier.

As a result, it’s not totally satisfying in either camp. Obviously it’s not meant to be one of the more dynamic SUVs, but in slight inconsistencies, neither does it go out of its way to smother your inputs into a relaxing whole.

Millbrook’s Hill Route wasn’t a happy hunting ground for the Citroën C5 Aircross. The track’s sharp, cambered turns and dramatic elevation changes often emphasise the inherent top-heaviness common to taller vehicles, and the Citroën was no exception. Body roll is abundant through tighter bends and hairpins, but it does at least build progressively and predictably.

More troubling is the C5 Aircross’s steering, which at times not only feels overly light but also inconsistent in its rate of response. Having to suddenly wind off or add on lock mid-corner to maintain your line isn’t a particularly enjoyable experience.

Front-end grip is as plentiful as you’d expect it to be, but no more. Attacking a corner at too great a pace or possessing an overly liberal approach to throttle application mid-bend will cause the Citroën’s nose to wash into easily curable understeer.