Sitting on the same platform as the plug-in Peugeot 3008, DS7 & Vauxhall Grandland, Citroen’s C5 Aircross is also available as plug-in hybrid. With low BIK, plenty of space & all the latest tech & safety, it’s a family SUV that Company Car & Van got it’s hands on one recently
What is it ?
The regular petrol & diesel C5 Aircross, are a throwback to Citroen’s of old. In fact, all of Citroens recent new car launches have featured Citroen Advanced Comfort, putting comfort & function above performance. The C5 Aircross is no different, coming as it does with five individual seats, the front two are amazingly comfortable feeling like comfy armchairs, plus class leading boot space, all supplemented by the latest tech & safety.
The PHEV version is exactly the same, so factor in plenty of head & leg room up front & in the rear. The three rear seats can be moved individually fore & aft, although we found the seat depth front to back, quite shallow. The door pockets are huge, plus there’s a couple of drinks holders behind the gear stick, a smallish glove box, a deep storage bin which doubles as an armrest & a small open cubby where the USB & 12v socket are located. Rear passengers get twin air vents & a USB connection in front of the rear centre passenger.
The batteries & e-motor are located under the floor plan, so you don’t get quite as as much boot-space as you do in the ICE car, so, 460 litres. a pretty decent return. Fold the rear three seats down & the load space increases to a very usable 1510 litres.
The boot floor itself is handily flat, with a wide aperture, which makes it easy to get stuff in or out. The tailgate opens to a decent height & Feel Plus models have an electric tailgate that opens when you make shake your foot below the rear bumper. The boot also features a handy under-floor space to store your charging cable.
Equipment levels across the range are impressive. So you get keyless entry & exit, a city camera pack, with a reversing camera, LED day-time running lights, 3D rear lights & front indicators, DAB, four speakers, Bluetooth, Mirror Screen for Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, voice recognition, Citroën Connect Nav which includes TomTom Live updates on a 3 year subscription, a Smartphone wireless charging plate & two 12V sockets, one up front & one in the boot, plus 2x USB sockets.
You also get top safety features, including Active Lane Departure Warning, Active Blind Spot Monitoring, ESP, Highway Driver Assist,Collision Risk Alert & Post Collision Safety Brake, Adaptive cruise control with Stop&Go & speed limiter & a Safety Plus Pack which includes Active Safety Brake with radar.
Double-laminated front windows & engine bay soundproofing are also fitted to the C5 Aircross, with the aim of reducing exterior noise, while an active air quality system uses an air-purifying carbon filter to keep the cabin air fresh.
On the outside, the plug-in looks very similar to the standard C5 Aircross, save for the ‘Hybrid’ badges & blue details, which are actually optional. Inside the plug-in features some hybrid specific elements. These include a custom interface for the 12.3″ instrument cluster & 10″ touch screen, a driving mode selector on the central console, a ‘B’ mode option on the gear selector, programmable cabin pre-conditioning & deferred charging, acoustically insulated front side windows, a frameless auto-dimming electro-chrome rear view mirror with blue LED electric driving mode indicator, plus of course, a 6.6kW onboard charger.
And of course the engine is different. Under the bonnet sits a 108bhp electric-motor, which supplements the 178bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine. Add these together & you get 225bhp, 250Nm’s & 0-62mph time of 8.7 seconds. The 13.2kWh battery is good for a range of 34 miles & the car can be de driven in electric mode at speeds of up to 84mph.
Despite being FWD only, it’s also more expensive to purchase than the petrol or diesel versions, with a starting price of £34,340, for our test car the Shine Plug-in Hybrid ë-EAT8 PureTech 180, costing. But, for company car drivers, the real closer is the emissions of just 40g/km, which would entitle you to a Benefit in Kind of just 10%, which would equate to a monthly saving of over £200 vs the petrol equivalent.
Once sitting comfortably behind the wheel, you can select from three driving modes; Electric, Hybrid or Sport. Whilst Sport is handy for joining the motorway or overtaking slow moving traffic, it isn’t especially sporty. Hybrid is the de-facto driving mode, combining petrol & electric power for peak efficiency & this delivers a cosseted, relaxing ride as the Citroen, especially on the motorway, literally glides along. In town or in slower traffic, you’ll notice the engine noise a bit more, as the 8-speed auto gearbox whines a bit. Switch to Electric mode & the silence is palpable. The Citroen remains quiet & comfortable, doing a really good job of blocking out the world outside.
The C5 Aircross arrived fully charge & driving in pure electric mode, we were able to achieve 27 miles before the petrol engine kicked in. Rather than plug the C5 in, we utilised the car’s clever regenerative braking & power save modes to fully recharge the cars battery on an 80 mile motorway run. The car also features a ‘B’ mode, which can be selected on the gearbox by pulling the lever back from Drive once to engage it. This enables the car to harvest energy from the car whilst braking or coasting along. Even better is the battery save mode, which we set up every time we got into the car. Press the lightning button to the left of the dash, go into the battery save screen & turn on. Easy once you know it’s there, but annoyingly, this needs to be re-selected every time you restart the car.
If you do plug in, as we did a couple of times with our Rolec 7kW home charger, www.rolecserv.com/home-charging you are looking at just under 2 hours to reach a full charge. We reckon that if you’re driving in town, then 20 miles of electric range is likely, whilst on the open road, this would go up & 26 miles would be about right.The central 8″ capacitive touch screen & 3″ customisable TFT instrument display are easy to read & in the touch screens case, to reach. In common with other PSA models the majority of the cars functions are controlled via the touchscreen, but there are some short cut buttons located underneath, for most of the functions. The cruise control is accessed via a stalk to the left side of the steering wheel. The short gear lever, electric hand brake & drive mode switches are neatly spaced between the front seats.
As for the ride itself, the PHEV isn’t as smooth or as agile as the pure petrol or diesel versions, mainly because it’s heavier. So, bumps in the road are more noticeable, as is the rolling in & out of bends. Still, the seats are so comfy it’s hard to notice these minor blemishes. (Notably Mrs Walker even commented on the cars front seat comfort compared to most cars she’s sat in recently)
The other noticeable difference is that the brakes are spongy & groan a bit &, when you accelerate away you do get a slight delay in the engines response, both is typical of a hybrid car.
As far as overall fuel economy went, our week of approximately 400 miles saw us return an average of 44.1MPG, certainly not bad & about what we’d expected. Like all plug-in hybrids, the C5 Aircross plug-in needs to be plugged-in regularly, so that you can harness it’s 25-30 mile pure electric range. The battery save & regenerative braking functions certainly help with this, especially when you’re on the motorway.
If you’re a company car driver then the tax implications alone should have you heading it’s way. It’s refreshingly different to look at inside & out. It’s also a really comfortable, practical & well equipped car
The gearbox is a little jarring & the brakes a bit spongy.
The C5 Aircross PHEV is a really spacious, practical, well equipped family 5-seat SUV, with more room on board than almost everything else compatible. It’s also incredibly comfortable & a proper throwback to Citroens of old, a guarantee to put a smile on my face. There is plug-in competition in the C SUV sector, but none stand out quite as much as the Citroen.