Citroen C5 Aircross BlueHDi 130 review

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Citroen's improved C5 Aircross arguably makes most sense in BlueHDi 130 diesel form. Jonathan Crouch takes a drive.

Ten Second Review

In a C5 Aircross, according to Citroen, you'll be travelling 'Premier Class'. So what exactly, does that mean? Something significant surely, given that this car's main selling point is a unique 'Progressive Hydraulic Cushion' suspension system. This car has recently been usefully updated. And provides a decent blend of economy and performance in the 1.5-litre BlueHDi 130 diesel form we're going to look at here.


The legendary Citroen 2CV had a reputation for being able to comfortably traverse a ploughed field. That apart though, this French brand can't call on much customer recognition when it comes to vehicles cable of functioning off the beaten track. A decade or so back, there were two re-badged Mitsubishi models, the C-Crosser and a car we didn't get, the C4 Aircross. But that was about it from Citroen when it comes to mid-sized contenders of this kind until this C5 Aircross model arrived in 2018.

Now it's been usefully updated and in this case, we're testing it in BlueHDi 130 1.5-litre diesel form. As with other variants in the C5 Aircross range, this one's most unique selling point is a clever suspension system but there's also lots else of note.

Driving Experience

The 1.5-litre BlueHDi 130 diesel engine sells alongside a PureTech petrol unit with the same output in this revitalised C5 Aircross range. Both powerplants can be ordered with Citroen's smooth-shifting EAT8 8-speed auto transmission and in that form get a a largely irrelevant 'Sport' button on the centre console that ramps up engine noise but not a lot else. Engine noise isn't something you really want to hear more of in a diesel, especially not from Citroen's 1.5-litre BlueHDi 130 unit, which is one of the brand's older engines.

It's quite a lusty lump though, developing 300Nm, which is why this variant can offer easily the highest braked towing capacity in the range - 1,450kgs in manual form. And get from rest to 62mph in 10.4s - which is about the same as the PureTech petrol 130 model can manage. The top speed is 117mph. As with other C5 Aircross variants, ride quality here is embellished by a clever 'Progressive Hydraulic Cushions' suspension system which delivers class-leading comfort over poorer surfaces. Hydraulic dampers cushion the top and bottom of wheel travel at the top and bottom of wheel travel and allow the fitment of softer springs and dampers, producing what the brand describes as a 'magic carpet'-like feel.

Design and Build

This revised C5 Aircross borrows some of the styling cues of the brand's executive C5 X as part of a refreshed exterior design, with a more vertical and modern front end that's brought sleeker aerodynamics. The front grille's been restyled and there's a revised version of the iconic Citroen logo, now seemingly detached from the daytime running lights, with chevrons that appear in black lacquer in a chrome setting, this now standing out more overtly against the central grille. Around the car, extra glossy or anodised detailing has been added - in colours such as Glossy Black and Dark Chrome, all of it intended to demonstrate the model's more up-market positioning.

The C5 Aircross shares the same EMP2 platform as the PSA Group's other mid-sized SUVs, the Peugeot 3008 and the DS 7 Crossback. It's 4.5m long and 1.84m wide with a 2.73m wheelbase, so is a touch bigger than cheaper cars in this class like Nissan's Qashqai and SEAT's Ateca. The brand's signature 'Air Bumps' make an appearance just above the lower side sills, but they're toned down here, just as they are in the latest C4.

Inside, front seat occupants get the brand's unique 'Advanced Comfort' seat design, which features a core of high-density foam and an additional 15mm top layer of textured foam to ensure maximum comfort and support for the driver and passengers. There's a 12.3-inch digital driver's display and a revised 10-inch high-definition touchscreen that's been positioned higher up on the dashboard to reduce stress by ensuring the driver keeps their eyes on the road. Nice touches include an active air quality system that uses an air-purifying carbon filter. As before, this Gallic SUV's lengthy wheelbase translates into a cabin that feels significantly larger than that of most models in this class.

In the rear, the car continues to feature three individual, same-width seats that slide, recline and fold flat. Not only does this mean that everyone on-board enjoys an exceptional level of comfort no matter where they sit, but it also creates the numerous possibilities for configuring the interior space. It means the boot can be increased in size from 580-litres, to 720-litres with the rear seats in place. With the rear seats folded down, there's up to 1,630-litres of boot space.

Market and Model

The BlueHDi 130 version of this C5 Aircross comes in 'Sense Plus', 'Shine' and 'C-Series Edition' levels of trim. Prices start at just over £27,000, with a premium of around £1,650 for the automatic. This diesel variant costs £1,000 more than its PreTech 130 petrol counterpart.

Even with base 'Sense Plus' trim, owners benefit from features including 18-inch 'Pulsar' diamond-cut alloy wheels, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, Keyless Entry & Start and electric folding exterior mirrors. With 'Shine Trim', buyers enjoy the Drive Assist Pack with Adaptive Cruise Control, Advanced Comfort Seats with Alcantara upholstery and Active Safety Brake with video and radar assistance, while the 'Urban Black' interior ambience brings an upmarket feel to the cabin.

The 'C-Series Edition' sits at the top of the range. It has been tailored specifically for the UK market and gains a 'Perla Nera Black' bi-tone roof with an exclusive Anodised Bronze Colour Pack. There is also an opening panoramic glass sunroof, wireless charging and a motorised tailgate with hands-free access.

Safety-wise, there are a total of 19 driver-assistance systems available across the range, including Highway Driver Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Active Lane Departure Warning. Buyers can heavily personalise their C5 Aircross, creating a model that suits them perfectly, primarily through Colour Packs which add flourishes to the front air intakes and the side Airbump panels. Four Colour Packs are available: Glossy Black, Dark Chrome, Anodised Bronze and Energetic Blue. There's also a wide choice of body paint colours intended to complement the more assertive look: Polar White, Pearl White, Perla Nera Black, Platinum Grey, Cumulus Grey and a fresh shade, Eclipse Blue.

Cost of Ownership

We're used to modern Citroens being rather light by class standards, particularly models that are, like this one, built upon the PSA Group's stiff, sophisticated EMP2 platform. So the news that the fastest and best-equipped versions of this C5 Aircross tip the scales at well over 1.5-tonnes may prepare you for the fact that in trading up from the brand's smaller C3 Aircross model (which is a massive 400kgs lighter), your running cost returns are going to be very different. Of course, many C5 Aircross buyers won't be switching from something smaller in the Crossover class and these people will merely be happy to see that this car's efficiency stats number amongst the better readings that you can expect to get from a mid-sized volume brand SUV of this kind.

This 1.5-litre BlueHDi 130 diesel powerplant returns up to 60.8mpg and up to 129g/km in manual form; or up to 57.8mpg and 136g/km as an auto.


So where does all that leave us? Well, the damping of this C5 Aircross isn't quite as 'magic carpet'-like as this distinctively French maker likes to think it is. To truly get that, you'd need something like the trick hydropneumatic suspension system used by the classic models of the Sixties and Seventies that Citroen's now so keen to remind us about. But these were also the cars that led the company to bankruptcy and a takeover by Automobiles Peugeot from which the identity of the brand has taken decades to recover.

But recover it has. Citroens are different and a little special once again. They're not quite as individualistic as they once were; a profitable volume brand can no longer make cars of that sort. But most of the models in the company's current line-up do at least try to bring something a little unique to their respective segments - as this one needs to, given its late arrival in the Crossover class. We think it makes sense in BlueHDi 130 form. And it makes stylish sense as a mid-sized SUV. Job done.

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