Citroen’s C5 Aircross came out in January 2019, but we have had to wait until late 2020 for the plug-in hybrid version to arrive. Sitting on the same platform as the plug-in Peugeot 3008, DS7 & Vauxhall Grandland X, Citroen were last in the PSA Group to the PHEV party. Company Car & Van got it’s hands on one recently to find out of it’s been worth the wait.
The regular petrol & diesel C5 Aircross, are a throwback to Citroens 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.
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 Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, ESP, active cruise control with Stop&Go & speed limiter & a Safety Plus Pack which includes Active Safety Brake.
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, 600 litres v 780 litres with the rear three seats pushed forwards, a pretty decent return. Fold the rear three seats down & the load space increases to a very usable 1610 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.
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 instrument cluster & touch screen, a driving mode selector on the central console, a Brake mode option on 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 31 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, with our test car the Flair Plus Plug-in Hybrid ë-EAT8 PureTech 180, costing £36,845. But, for company car drivers, the real closer is the emissions of just 39g/km, which would entitle you to a Benefit in Kind of just 10%, which would equate to a monthly saving of over £200.
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 EV mode & the silence is palpable. The Citroen remains quiet & comfortable, doing a really good job of blocking out the world outside.
The C5 Aircross arrive fully charge & driving in pure electric mode, we were able to achieve 22 mils before the petrol engine kicked in. Rather than plug on the C5, 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 annoying in that 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 k=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 & s you accelerate away you do get a slight delay in the engines response as well, both is typical of a hybrid car.
As far as overall fuel economy went, our week of approximately 250 miles saw us return an average MPG of 39.1, 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 20-30 mile pure electric range. The battery save & regenerative braking functions certainly help with this, especially when you’re on the motorway.
It may have taken Citroen almost 2 years, to bring their plug-in C5 Aircross to market, but it’s been well worth the wait. If you’re a company car driver then the tax implications alone should have you heading it’s way. Furthermore, it’s 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 & proper throwback to Citroens of old, a guarantee to put a smile on my face.