Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid review (2021): A comfy and roomy PHEV

The Citroen C5 Aircross has been on sale since 2017, but it was not only till late 2019 where the French automaker announced that it would also offer its crossover SUV as a plug-in hybrid; it went on sale in early 2020 after its world premiere at the Brussels Motor Show.

Given the model’s success in its non-electrified state – selling over 100,000 units in a relatively short space of time – the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant has large boots to fill.

If you’d prefer to watch a review of the Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid, head on over to our YouTube channel.

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid price & competition

The introduction of the hybrid model hasn’t deterred Citron from selling its pure combustion engine-powered model. Indeed, the C5 Aircross can be yours for just £24,630. By comparison, the PHEV model starts from £34,275 for ‘Shine’ spec, and goes up to £35,850 for the ‘Shine Plus’.

While the price discrepancy is rather large, one should consider that this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. Should you pick the pure petrol ‘Shine’ with an automatic transmission (1.2L PureTech 130), it’ll cost £28,210; this variant nets 96 kw (129 hp) of power, 170 Nm of torque, a top speed of 122mph and a quoted 0-62mph acceleration of 10.5s. Opt for the plug-in hybrid instead, and as standard, you’ll get 168 kW (225 hp) of power, 250 Nm of torque, a top speed of 140mph and a claimed 0-62mph time of 8.7s.

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid review

Focusing on the PHEV model, here’s what you as standard in the ‘Shine Plus’, as opposed to the regular ‘Shine’ trim:

  • 19″ black alloy wheels (up from 18″ diamond cut)
  • Electric tailgate
  • Grey upholstery with electronically adjustable driver’s seat
  • Front and rear carpet mats
  • Wireless smartphone charging plate
  • Two central illuminated cupholders
  • Advanced Active Safety Brake (over standard)
  • Extended traffic sign recognition (over standard)
  • Adaptive cruise control

Given the £1,575 difference between the two trims, we’d highly suggest getting the top-spec ‘Shine Plus’; it offers numerous features for a small added premium.

When it comes to its competitors, there are numerous PHEVs to consider, here are some alternatives: MG HS Plug-in Hybrid from £30,095; Grandland X Hybrid from £32,390; Ford Kuga PHEV from £36,555; Peugeot 3008 Hybrid from £37,310; Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid from £45,245; Audi Q3 TFSIe from £38,335; DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4×4 from £41,550; BMW X3 xDrive30e from £50,600; Audi Q5 TFSIe from £51,015; BMW X5 xDrive45e from £66,415.

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While PHEVs do reduce your benefit-in-kind (BIK) taxation in comparison to a regular petrol or diesel-powered vehicle, if you have access to a charge point, you might want to consider a fully electric SUV, instead; going green will save an even larger chunk off your tax bill.

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid audio review

There are quite a few to choose from – we’ve also added the manufacturers’ range claims in brackets; it’s measured in miles: the MG ZS EV starts from £26,095 (163 WLTP); the Kia Soul EV, e-Niro ‘2 64’ and the Hyundai Kona Electric Premium 64 kWh (282 WLTP) all come in at £32,445. There is also the Citroen e-C4 (217 miles WLTP), which starts from £30,895 and the Peugeot e-2008 from £30,730 (206 miles WLTP); the Skoda Enyaq iV 60 (256 WLTP) starts from £32,010, while the larger battery variant, the Enyaq iV 80 (331 WLTP) starts from £39,365. Likewise, the Volkswagen ID.4 has a similar configuration, with the 52 kWh battery pack model (213 WLTP) coming in at £32,495, and the 77 kWh variant (310 WLTP) starting from £42,020.

Elsewhere, you’ve also got the MG5 EV, an all-electric estate with a claimed range of 214 miles at £25,095 and the Long Range model (250 WLTP) that starts from just £26,495.

Read next: Volkswagen ID.4 review: Better than the VW ID.3?

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid exterior review

The C5 Aircross will certainly turn heads, and arguably not for good reason. Its exterior design, namely at the front, is convoluted. It’s as if a baker designed a three-layer wedding cake and forgot to stick to the theme – there’s no cohesion. At the bottom, there’s a blue accent around the air ducts, above that, a grille with a chrome-like-dotted finish and sitting above that still, there’s the Citroen badge which extends the length of the bonnet to meet the vehicle’s thin-looking headlights. Too much, Citroen.

Move over to the side profile, and you’ll find different-sized rectangular boxes that are lined across the vehicle’s sideskirts; the one by the front wheels is also finished in blue. Yet again, a bit of a design overload. As for the wheel arches, they’re not body-coloured and instead have a plastic finish, which does detract from the stylish 18″ (or 19″ in the Shine Plus) diamond-cut alloys wheels.

At the rear, Citroen designers have taken a chill pill, with the look of the vehicle coming together. Stylish taillights combined with a semi-sporty rear bumper and fake outward-facing tailpipes make the C5 Aircross look the part. At the top, there are built-in roof rails, which will take a load of up to 75kg.

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid rear

Read next: Kia Soul EV review: Better than Kia e-Niro & VW ID.3?

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid interior review

Moving inside the cabin, the French automaker has yet again mixed up the design language. While its familiar look is definitely appreciated, the layout doesn’t quite make sense; take the steering wheel as an example, it has volume controls on the left, and media buttons on the right, and that’s not even mentioning the addition of flappy paddles on such vehicle – we’ll touch upon this unnecessary feature further down in this review.

As for the centre console, the Start/Stop button is located furthest away from the driver; this could be down to the right-hand-drive conversion, but still, makes for a cumbersome experience for UK drivers.

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid cabin

Then we’ve got the infotainment system, which is a whole other issue. The menu layout doesn’t make sense, and should you wish to access different parts of the system, you’ll need to touch on the capacitive buttons located below the display; instead of having the option to navigate to the appropriate menu by tapping away on the 8″ display itself. Moving onto the climate controls, it’s yet again, complicated – a capacitative button located under the screen takes you to a section on the infotainment system, while physical buttons further down toward the centre console give you access to different settings.

Read next: Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin review: A powerful luxury electric SUV

On the subject of technology, the built-in navigation system is sluggish and so is the 12.3″ instrument cluster, which seemingly takes an age to shift between the different screens. But, on the plus side, this elongated fully digitalized display provides the driver with all the relevant information; a HUD isn’t available as an option. As for the centre display, it works with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, meaning you can seriously improve the speed of the system by plugging in a compatible smartphone via the USB Type-A port found toward the front of the centre console.

To connect up wirelessly, the vehicle has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth integration, with the latter supporting the SBC and AAC codecs for audio playback. Inside every C5 Aircross Hybrid, you’ll find a six-speaker audio system, where there’s no means of upgrading it to a more premium configuration. If you’d like to hear how the stock system performs, watch our detailed review on YouTube.

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid storage review

Where the Citroen really comes to life, however, is in its storage capacity. Inside the cabin, there’s an ample amount of space: the glove compartment; large front and conveniently-sized rear door bins; a large non-slip bay at the front of the centre console for mobile phones (wireless charging take place here in the Shine Plus); a small non-clip cut-out by the electronic gear selector; two cupholders; and a humungous centre armrest storage compartment. The latter is large enough to fit a small-sized malleable bag, a large-sized purse or a wallet. A small removable tray also resides here, allowing you to store a charging cable or some loose change.

Then there’s the boot, which presents itself as a very practical and large-sized area. With the seats upright, Citroen claim there’s 460 litres of space and with the seats folded down, this figure extends to 1,510 litres. While that’s 120 litres less than the non-electrified model (580 and 1,630, respectively), it’s still plentiful. The tailgate operates on hydraulics and can’t be electronically opened in the Shine trim; should you get the Shine Plus, you’ll have an electric tailgate, instead.

To put it into perspective, here’s how the C5 Aircross Hybrid stacks up to its all-electric rivals: the Audi e-tron (660/1,725 litres); Skoda Enyaq iV (585/1,710 litres); VW ID.4 (543/1,575 litres); Kia e-Niro (451/1,405 litres); MG ZS EV (448/1,375 litres); Peugeot e-2008 (434/1,467 litres); Kia Soul EV (315/1,339 litres); Citroen e-C4 (380/1,250 litres); Mazda MX-30 (341/1,146 litres); Hyundai Kona Electric (332/1,114 litres). As for the MG5 EV estate, it offers 464 and 1,456 litres, respectively.

But wait, that’s not all. Unlike other SUVs in this space, the C5 Aircross Hybrid has slidable rear seats, which means its boot capacity can extend up to 600 litres, up from 460 litres. Indeed, extra space presents itself between the rear seats and the flat loading bay. Better still, all three seats can be independently moved forwards to create more space, and while the SUV doesn’t have a ski latch, the middle seat can be brought down to make room for elongated goods.

Speaking of which, the loading bay is flat, where thanks to the boot lip not being overly raised, it means loading or removing luggage from the rear is extremely easy. There’s also a convenient place to store the vehicle’s charging cable within the underfloor compartment. Elsewhere, there are fixing points, hooks, a 12V socket and a two-tiered boot load cover.

Read next: Kia e-Niro review: The best all-electric SUV?

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid comfort review

Storage capacity aside, the key selling point of the C5 Aircross Hybrid, is its ridiculously comfortable in-cabin experience – starting from the seats. At the rear, you’re treated with three same-width, full-sized seats that not only accommodate 6-foot 4-inches (193cm) individuals with ease but also provide a cushiony soft experience. Indeed, the rear seats are rather unique, whereby not many other SUVs can boast such a feature. The front seats are equally comfortable and also fully adjustable – manual controls are available on the Shine trim, while the Shine Plus adds an electronically adjustable driver’s seat.

As for headroom and legroom, it’s absolutely spectacular. No matter where you sit – that includes the rear middle seat – you’ll find there’s plenty of space to stretch your legs and not feel henned in by the roof, either.

Moving onto cabin noise, the SUV is among the best in its class. Road noise from the tyres is kept to a minimum, while environmental noise is drowned out by good soundproofing and insulation with minimal wind noise perceivable from the vehicle’s A-pillars.

To go a step further, Citroen has integrated floaty-like suspension, which the automaker coins as “Progressive Hydraulic Cushions“. The setup means the SUV manages to glide over speed bumps, potholes or rougher terrain with ease. It’s up there with the most comfortable vehicles on the market, competing with the likes of the Audi e-tron SUV and the luxury saloon, A8 L TFSIe that both house air suspension systems. Combine the C5 Aircross Hybrid’s suspension system with its cushiony seats, and minimal cabin noise, you’ll find the Citroen SUV has one of the most comfortable in-cabin experiences.

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid design

Read next: MG5 EV review: The affordable fully electric estate

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid performance review

Now while its suspension setup works a treat around the city, it’s not quite geared up for spirited driving. Around windy country roads, the vehicle suffers from some body roll and while it’s not severe, it won’t compete with sportier SUVs or estates when it comes to its handling characteristics. Likewise, its front-mounted 1.6 L four-cylinder engine and 81 kW motor won’t set your world alight. Combined they output 168 kW (225 hp) of power, 225 Nm of torque and will get you to 60mph in a tested 8.65s. Top speed is limited to 140mph – these figures might not seem overly impressive, but they do make the hybrid model the fastest C5 Aircross in Citroen’s offering.

To achieve the best performance, one will have to select the ‘Sport’ driving mode. This tightens up the steering wheel, and improves the gear shifts. Speaking of which, the SUV features an eight-speed automatic transmission that can be manually tinkered with via the flappy paddles located behind the steering wheel. Frankly, we can’t quite see many consumers wanting to play around with the gears, especially given the gear shifts are a little lazy. To further emphasise the point, in ‘Sport’ mode, the engine stays permanently engaged, which in turn reduces efficiency.

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid flappy paddles

 

This leads us onto its 13.2 kWh battery pack, which the automaker claims will yield up to 37 miles on a single charge. Now we managed 28 miles in our mixed driving tests, which is acceptable for a PHEV, although, won’t provide anywhere near the zero-emissions driving experience one can achieve in a fully electric SUV, such as the Kia e-Niro that yields a tested 260 miles on a single charge.

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In order to recoup energy back into the battery pack and engage a form of one-pedal driving, you’ll need to shift down on the gear selector to select B-mode. Here, the SUV will decelerate when one lifts off the accelerator pedal. While it won’t quite replicate fully electric vehicles that can be driven with one pedal, having the ability to decelerate the vehicle to a certain degree without having to resort to pressing on the brake pedal does yield a bettered driving experience in and around town.

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid rear design

It’s similarly practical when it comes to recharging, as unlike many plug-in hybrids that limit their input charge to 3.6 kW, the C5 Aircross Hybrid has a 6.6 kW onboard charger. This means its battery pack can be recharged from 0-100% in less than two hours via its Type 2 port. This makes it ideal for those who don’t have a readily accessible charging point, and yet, want to benefit from zero-emissions driving.

On the subject of efficiency, Citroen claims the SUV can attain 157.2–222.3mpg (on the WLTP test cycle) from its 43-litres fuel tank. Much like its competitors, we feel this miles-per-gallon range is unrealistic; we achieved a respectable 58mpg. Depending on your driving style, you’ll be able to net around 290 miles from a full tank of petrol, and combines with roughly 30 miles from its battery pack means you can achieve around 320 miles without having to stop to refuel or recharge.

Read next: Skoda Enyaq iV review: The Volkswagen ID.4 alternative

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid safety review

When it comes to safety, the full petrol Citroen C5 Aircross was tested by Euro NCAP in 2019, where it achieved 4/5 stars. One can only assume the Hybrid variant would achieve a similar score.

As for driver assistance systems, the PHEV comes as standard with programmable cruise control with speed limiter, active lane departure warning system, traffic sign recognition and recommendation, a blind-spot monitoring system that integrates itself on the side mirrors, advanced active safety brake (AEBS2 with 77GHz radar), collision risk alert, post-collision safety brake, coffee break alert and driver attention alert. Should you opt for the Shine Plus trim, you’ll be treated with an advanced active safety brake and traffic sign recognition system, and adaptive cruise control.

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid rearview camera

Onto visibility, the C5 Aircross Hybrid is excellent no matter where you look – the rearview mirror is also slender, unlike the one found in the Vauxhall Mokka-e that obscured our frontal vision. Front and rear parking sensors also come as standard, while a rearview camera and a top view of the vehicle give extra confidence when reversing into a tight parking space. One can also add ‘Park Assist Plus’, which adds automated parking guidance for bay parking plus parallel entry and exit in the Shine Plus trim.

Read next: BMW X2 xDrive25e review: A sporty hybrid crossover

TotallyEV’s verdict on the Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid

In comparison to most of its competitors, the C5 Aircross Hybrid has its place in the market – it’s a PHEV that reduces one’s carbon footprint and benefit-in-kind taxation (for company car owners), while also being a very spacious, comfortable and affordable SUV. As a result, it receives TotallyEV’s Value award.

Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid award TotallyEV

It is worth considering, however, that if you have easy access to an electric charge point, you should also consider fully electric SUVs in this price bracket – here are our recommendations: Kia Soul EV, Kia e-Niro ‘2 64’ and the Hyundai Kona Electric Premium 64 kWh all come in at £32,445; the Volkswagen ID.4 from £42,020; and the Skoda Enyaq iV 80 starts from £39,365. Not only are these vehicles better for the environment, but they’ll further reduce your BIK rate, provide a more entertaining driving experience and will go upwards of 260 miles on a single charge – not far off the 320 miles one can attain in one go with the Citroen.

Would you pick the Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid over its rivals or fully electric SUVs? Let us know in the comments section below or via social media; we’re on: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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