Citroen C5 Aircross and a 1,500 km roadtrip: The new benchmark in comfort!

I took the new Citroen C5 Aircross on a 1,500 km plus roadtrip from Delhi to Udaipur and back and this is how the C5 Aircross performed. 

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The Citroen C5 Aircross has been in the Indian market now for some time and it was the introductory vehicle from the French brand in the market. With its quirky and modern design, there’s no doubting the French flair in the C5 Aircross’s design and character. That said, the segment it entered in is usually mostly comprised of muscular and butch-looking SUVs so the C5 anyway stands apart from anything else in the country. However, in the build-up to its launch, Citroen started talking a lot about the vehicle’s comfort and suspension being one of the key differentiators in the segment. As strange as it sounded it also gave many a reason to wonder that in a market where features, price, and design matter so much why is a company banking on comfort to market its debut product. 

During the first drive of the vehicle, we found out that the C5 Aircross certainly was different from any other vehicle in the segment in terms of ride quality and comfort. However, like most first drives we spent limited time with the vehicle and that left me wanting more time with the C5. The best way then to test the claims of Citroen was to put the vehicle through a long road trip and that’s exactly what we did some time back. I took the Citroen C5 Aircross on a 1,500 km plus drive from Delhi to Udaipur and back and this is how the C5 Aircross performed. 

The Drive

As expected, I started from Delhi early morning in order to beat rush hour traffic and was onto the NH8 within a few minutes from West Delhi. Thereon, the journey was quite easy as we made quick progress on the smooth highway and entered Rajasthan border in a little over 90 minutes. The smooth roads meant that there was not much of a workout for the C5’s suspension. That said the occasional undulations and speed bumps were dealt with in more than an impressive manner making it clear that the C5 was in a different league in terms of comfort when compared to rivals. 

With the smooth Rajasthan roads continuing to favour us we made decent progress and despite three breaks, we were about 70 km away from Udaipur. That’s when the road condition started deteriorating a bit and when we were less than 50 km away from the city we hit a patch where there was some construction going on. The bad roads in that patch gave the suspension a chance to shine and shine it did brilliantly! Deep craters, broken surfaces, and loose surfaces too were not able to wake up the occupants in the back seat. That’s how good the suspension of the C5 Aircross is. Unlike some vehicles that offer a trade-off between slow and high-speed ride quality the C5 Aircross nails the comfort requirements at any speed. Be it nasty bumps at 10 kmph or highway undulations at 100 kmph, nothing seems to rattle the C5 as long as one is driving it sanely. Also, it should be noted that the C5 Aircross doesn’t exhibit much body roll and that adds to the comfort of the occupant. 

The other thing that adds to the comfort is the cabin, which is adequately feature-loaded and spacious. Over the next few days in and around Udaipur and on our journey back to Delhi, I found out many reasons to like the C5 Aircross.  The fact that the cabin is well-built and features good material quality ensures that occupants always get a rich and airy feel. The rear seats deserve a special mention here as they’re unlike any other SUV in the segment. Instead of a 60:40 split seat bench, the C5 Aircross seat bench consists of three different seats. This means that each one of these can be adjusted according to the preference of the occupant. The downside to this is that two occupants don’t get access to an armrest (the middle seat as armrest doesn’t work that well). That said, the seat cushioning and support are quite good and that adds further to the comfort quotient. 

On the driving front, the C5 Aircross offers only a diesel engine, a 2.0 litre unit with 174 hp and 400 Nm of torque. The only transmission on offer is an eight-speed automatic torque converter with paddle-shifters. The engine comes to life with a bit of diesel clatter and vibrations but settles down into a smooth harmony quickly. On the move, the engine is a refined one and offers good low-end torque and the mid-range is where the meat lies. In urban as well as highway conditions the engine and the finely mated gearbox perform well translating into an enjoyable and relaxing driving experience. High NVH insulation adds further to the feeling of refinement and premium appeal. 

Watch Video | Citroen C5 Aircross SUV Review:

The Cons

Over the 1,500 km plus drive with the Citroen C5 Aircross I found out many great things about it and am fully convinced of it being the best vehicle in its segment on the comfort front and that too by a considerable margin. However, the C5 Aircross has a couple of shortcomings too. The first one is the instrument cluster, which is not great in terms of design or usability. The design of the cluster is such that even after spending a week with the car I never found it to be intuitive. The readouts too require some effort to decipher information on the go and operating the cluster itself is not worth appreciating. I hope that the upcoming C3 takes everything from the C5 in its technical DNA but the instrument cluster. 

The other thing is not technology-related but is about value as the C5 Aircross despite its amazing cabin, comfort, and driving abilities is not exactly competitive in terms of pricing. At nearly Rs 33 lakh ex-showroom, the C5 Aircross rubs shoulders with larger SUVs in a segment above but one also needs to consider that the larger SUVs are no match for the C5 in terms of comfort and refinement. Even then the C5 Aircross has a bit of a hard time justifying its cost. Hence, if comfort and refinement is your prerogative and you want a vehicle that stands out from the crowd then the C5 Aircross is a great pick. So as long as you’re ready to overlook the higher cost of the vehicle the Citroen C5 Aircross delivers big time on the claims of the brand and testifies its technical capabilities. More importantly, the C5 Aircross gives us a good glimpse into how good the C3 could be. 

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