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Citroen C5 Aircross Plug-In Hybrid Review

Introduction

The Citroen C5 Aircross is one of those vehicles that you don't notice too much. Instead, it's unassuming and modest - possibly even a bit forgettable.

But that could be about to change with this new version.

It is four years old in the UK, so Citroen has overhauled it. And even though this is technically a facelift, it’s radically different to the original. So, for all intents and purposes, it’s a new car.

Select's rating score* - 3.8 / 5

At a Glance

The vehicle looks far more imposing, while the split lines of the front on the old model have been pulled together. This design leaves two horizontal LED strips running from side to side, which make up the grille, with the Citroen badge’s arrows pointing up, protruding from the top of the new look.

The headlights also share the same design as the grille, so the two appear one and the same. Meanwhile, there’s a modest lower grille at the bottom and some indentations in the bodywork at each side, which house air intakes.

There are plenty of rounded shapes at the side, but the Citroen looks more rugged, with a thick dark side skirt and wheel arches, plus rounded edges on the rear windows. Moreover, our test car had a black roof, resulting in a black strip running down the side behind the windows.


The rear window isn’t big and has a modest roof spoiler that overhangs slightly. The back has rounded taillights, with an indentation to accommodate the number plate and a thick cladded bumper, with two widened exhaust tips at the rear.

It may not be quite enough to be a head-turner. But it's good-looking and stylish and manages to pull off the unique feat of appearing athletic despite being quite bulbous in places. The C5 Aircross also gives off that off-road appeal with its rugged bodywork.

Visually, there’s no real difference between the hybrid and the non-hybrids. However, the former does get some subtle blue badges to denote its environmental friendliness.


Key Features

The Citroen C5 Aircross hybrid is available in two grades.

The Shine trim gets you 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, a 10-inch infotainment touchscreen with SatNav, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument display. It also has automatic dual-zone climate control, a City Camera Pack (a reversing camera with ‘top rear’ vision) and a dark chrome colour pack.

The top-of-the-range C-Series Edition adds 19-inch alloys, a hands-free tailgate with a motion sensor, and a panoramic glass sunroof with an electric blind. You also get a black roof, an 'anodised bronze' colour pack, a wireless phone charger, half-leather comfort seats, and a drive assist package. In addition, this bundle includes numerous safety features.


There is a third trim called Sense Plus, which sits at entry-level beneath the Shine trim but is only available on the non-hybrid version.

It includes most of what you get on the Shine trim, minus the City Camera Pack, while you get a glossy black colour pack instead of dark chrome. But you’ll have to make do with a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol or a 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel, both of which are available with a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic, producing 130PS.

If you go for the hybrid, regardless of whether you go for Shine or C-Series Edition, you get an eight-speed automatic. This transmission is hooked up to a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which combines with the electric motor to produce a grander 225PS.

It is the same engine found in the Vauxhall Grandland Plug-in HYBRID-e, amongst others.


Range & Batteries

The C5 Aircross has a 13.2kWh battery, which is suitable for up to 38 miles of electric-only range. Want to know more about what that translates to? Tale a look at our guide on what kWh and kW really means.

You are likely to find the range isn't that high in practice, and various factors can influence it. These include weather, temperature, road conditions and driving style.

Nevertheless, for environmentally conscious people, it means you can drive without the engine around town centres and on the school run, or when stuck in stop-start traffic.


Performance & Drive

The new Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid pulls away well, getting up to 62mph from a standing start in a perfectly reasonable 8.7-seconds. The vehicle goes on to top out at a surprisingly fast 140mph.

It is partly helped by the torque provided by the electric motor, which means it accelerates keenly off the line and makes good progress.

It pulls well on the move too. So, while the Citroen’s not built for surging past every other vehicle on the road, it can accelerate from 50 to 70mph quickly enough to overtake on faster roads.

The automatic gearbox feels reasonably refined and changes smoothly, aiding the performance. Meanwhile, the engine is quiet, even at higher revs, turning on by itself when it’s needed to help the electric motor. It turns off when it's not required, almost without you noticing.


The ride comfort and handling are much of a muchness, though. While the Aircross is comfortable at higher speeds, it feels more sensitive to imperfections in the road surface when travelling more slowly.

Likewise, in terms of handling, the extra weight of the batteries helps create a lower centre of gravity and appears to help with stability. But this means it’s less agile, so it doesn’t like being thrown into bends on snaking backroads. And there’s quite a bit of body roll, although that’s to be expected in a mid-size SUV.

The driving experience isn’t helped by the steering, though. It is light, so it’s effortless to ride around town. But it barely firms up at all when travelling at higher speeds, so as a result, there's little resistance or feel to give you the confidence to push harder.

While there is a Sport mode that can be engaged, we didn't find it made any noticeable difference, and the steering remained too light and largely feedback-free.


Charging

The Citroen C5 Aircross charges very slowly at just 6.6kW. Some vehicles can now charge at up to 350kW, over fifty times quicker.

However, many plug-in hybrids – and all-electric vehicles – have far bigger batteries. Plus, there's no urgency in charging up, given you have a petrol engine to fall back on.

Due to the Aircross’s small 13.2kWh battery, it’ll still be able to get from 0-100 per cent in two hours, which isn’t bad.

Home wall boxes generally charge at up to 7.4kW, although as the Aircross’s maximum charging speed is 6.6kW, you'll be limited to that, regardless. With charging times in mind, getting the most out of every charge is essential. Be sure to consult our guide on picking your ideal electric car charger.

Charging cables are included with the vehicle. However, some manufacturers expect you to obtain them separately, so there’s a nice bonus if you lease the C5 Aircross.


Running Costs & Emissions

According to Citroen, 2022’s C5 Aircross Hybrid can manage up to 222mpg.

Thanks to the hybrid technology, it produces just 32g/km of CO2, although much like the claimed 38 miles of all-electric range, you’re unlikely to achieve these figures in reality, as it greatly depends on driving style.

Keeping the Citroen’s batteries charged will be key to achieving anything close to these figures. So, it’s worth getting into the habit of plugging the Aircross in each time you get home.


Its low CO2 emissions mean it falls into the second-lowest category for road tax, which means the first year is free.

The 38 mile all-electric range figure means it falls into the fifth-lowest band for Benefit in Kind tax at 12 per cent. So the C5 Aircross promises savings for company car drivers over the standard non-hybrid versions. Mind you, most of the French car’s direct rivals are similar.

The BIK rate is just two per cent for all-electric cars, though, so that’s something to bear in mind if you’re not averse to embracing the world of battery propulsion.

Of course, if you’re leasing the Citroen outright, it's essential to work out whether you're likely to reclaim the price in fuel savings throughout your contract, and, if not, the slightly cheaper petrol or diesel models may be a better option.


On another note, Citroen doesn't have an outstanding reputation for reliability. The hope is that its integration into the Stellantis group early last year, plus the Aircross's similarity to other Stellantis models, means it’s more dependable. Only time will tell.

Furthermore, for your information and peace of mind during your contract, Citroen offers a three-year warranty, limited to 60,000 miles. However, there’s no mileage limit for the first two years. Meanwhile, the battery is covered by a separate eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty. That alone shows what faith Citroen has in this new version of the C5 Aircross.


Interior & Technology

The interior of the Citroen C5 Aircross looks nice, if not exceptionally luxurious, but it's a significant improvement on the old version.

The six small air vents – four of which were positioned on either side of an old-fashioned infotainment screen – looked clunky and messy. So they are gone, replaced with something that looks quite funky.

There is a flat-bottomed and flat-topped steering wheel, while the infotainment screen’s surround is shaped diagonally at the far side. The screen sits partly embedded and partly sticking up out of the dashboard, sitting above some thin, horizontal air vents.

The 10-inch touchscreen is okay and reasonably responsive. But the system itself isn’t the most user-friendly – and not helped by the fact that the climate control switches have been digitised and buried within the screen.


There are shortcut buttons underneath it, but they're touch-sensitive, making them problematic to use on the move.

The 12.3-inch digital instrument display is customisable and reasonably clear and informative. Plus, it adds an air of technological advancement to the driving experience if you’re used to plain old digital dials.

Plenty of plush soft-touch materials have been used. But thinner scratchy plastics are never far away, and the centre console, although it looks nice, feels a little bargain-basement.


Practicality & Boot Space

The seats are relatively big and comfortable in the C5 Aircross Hybrid. But the lumbar support isn’t great as the seats don’t hug your sides as much as they could.

Nevertheless, the French car’s interior feels large and roomy. And, in the front, there’s plenty of space to spread out and find a comfortable driving position.

The rear of the Citroen is much the same and even has three full-sized seats, so the middle-seat passenger won’t feel like they’re being squashed in a sandwich. Plus, there’s no hump in the middle of the floor, making things even better.

And the good news keeps coming. Because the chairs are full-sized, they can slide forwards and backwards individually – and be folded down separately, too.


The roofline doesn’t slope down all that much towards the back, so there’s plenty of headroom in the rear, too.

Boot space is a generous 600 litres, which expands up to 1,510 litres. Furthermore, there’s some storage space underneath the boot floor for the charging cables.

By comparison, thanks to a lack of batteries underneath the floor, the non-hybrid version has 720 litres of room, expanding to 1,630 litres. Therefore, you're not losing a huge amount in the hybrid, percentage-wise, compared with some other hybrid vehicles.


Safety

The new 2022 version of the Citroen C5 Aircross isn’t likely to be crash-tested by the European safety body Euro NCAP. But the old version was put through its paces in 2019.

It was awarded a four-star rating, which isn’t bad. However, most cars nowadays are easily scoring five stars - and it's pretty rare for a chunky SUV to fail to do so.

Nevertheless, this rating was upgraded to five stars if the Citroen ‘Safety Plus Pack’ was fitted to the car. But it was an optional extra, so the main rating stays at four stars.

It scored 87 per cent for adult occupants, 86 per cent for children and 75 per cent for safety assists. But it only achieved 58 per cent for vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists.


You would hope the car’s redesign means it would now score five stars outright, and, in fairness, parent company Stellantis takes safety very seriously. Therefore, an improvement has likely been at the forefront of its corporate mind.

Both Shine and C-Series Edition trims get blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, and automatic emergency braking. They also get front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera as standard, along with driver attention monitoring, traffic sign recognition and lane departure warning.


Of course, you also get lots of airbags and Isofix fittings for child seats in the outer rear and front passenger seats.

The latter trim also gets the 'Drive-Assist Pack'. This bundle includes active safety braking with video and radar assistance, plus adaptive cruise control with stop and go.

The pack also upgrades the automatic emergency braking to include detection ability for cyclists and pedestrians.


Options

In terms of added extras, there are plenty to choose from.

The exterior colour is white by default, but if you want metallic colours such as black, grey, dark grey or dark blue, it’s an extra few hundred pounds, while pearlescent white costs even more.

18-inch wheels are included as standard, but you can upgrade to 19-inches if you prefer for not a lot of dosh, which seems relatively reasonable.


A hands-free tailgate costs a few hundred pounds, while the Safety Plus Pack with Highway Drive Assist can be purchased, too. A tow bar with trailer stability control can also be bought, and you could have a panoramic glass sunroof with an electric interior blind for not far off a thousand pounds.

The hands-free tailgate and panoramic sunroof are already included as standard on the higher C-Series Edition trim.


Rival Cars

2022’s new Citroen C5 Aircross is built on the same platform as several other cars, including the DS 7 Crossback E-Tense, the Vauxhall Grandland Plug-in HYBRID-e and the Peugeot 3008 plug-in hybrid.

So, if you like the C5 Aircross, it’s worth checking out those alternatives, as they’re essentially the same vehicle underneath. Indeed, the Peugeot 3008 plug-in hybrid is arguably a better car than the Aircross.

The MINI Countryman plug-in hybrid is another choice and is arguably more refined with its BMW-derived technology.


Verdict & Next Steps

The new Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid is a good effort and an improvement on its predecessor. But it's best avoided by those who like to enjoy the driving experience.

The hybrid power of the engine and electric motor combined makes it reasonably sprightly in terms of acceleration. Meanwhile, the interior is spacious and practical, especially appealing to those who will regularly need to fill all three rear seats while retaining plenty of luggage space in the boot.

But the handling doesn’t cut it. The Citroen’s steering is poor in terms of feedback at higher speeds, and the ride comfort at low speeds could be better.

On the plus side, the Aircross Hybrid is attractive, imposing and, as we’ve seen, has plenty of positives.

It is not the best SUV out there, but this new version of the C5 Aircross is, without doubt, a big step forward.

Where to next?

View our latest Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid lease deal  - from just £357.23 per month inc VAT**

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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the CItroen C5 Aircross Hybrid

**Correct as of 05/07/2022. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £3,215.07  Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.

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