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Citroen C5 Aircross Shine - Driven

Gallic Charmer

French brand Citroen has a reputation for unusual but brilliant engineering, having made some of the cleverest and most iconic cars of all time.  Sales in Australia have always been spasmodic, and in recent times have slowed to a trickle.

A changing mix of models imported hasnít helped as Citroen, like many car makers, has been changing the kinds of vehicles it produces. Long gone are the sleek, futuristic Citroens of old. Todayís range are practical and economical vehicles, with just a nod to the quirkiness the brand once thrived on.

The car I tested recently was the C5 Aircross Shine. This is the current top of the range Citroen. Itís certainly well fitted out with lots of luxury and high-tech features. Okay, it doesnít have heated cup holders, but the Citroen punches above its weight with virtual instruments, speed zone recognition, gesture activated tailgate, wireless phone charging pad, a fleet of cameras to assist with parking and automatic everything.

Significantly, compared to some other recent Citroens, it has a proper automatic transmission, which works very nicely. The engine is a willing 121kW 1.6-litre turbo unit, which gets a bit thrashy sounding when pushed. Itís front wheel drive and doesnít pretend itís a family carrying sports car.

The upmarket Shine version boasts ďProgressive Hydraulic Cushion SuspensionĒ, which is certainly not the wonderful old soft Citroen hydropneumatics system, but gives a very compliant ride nonetheless, superior to anything else in its class.

The C5ís got properly comfortable seats too, in the old French car tradition and the quality of the interior is fine, especially for the price. The rear seats fold properly to give a flat (if high) floor and can be configured variously. There are three separate sliding, tilting, folding rear seats. Boot space is class-leading.

Clever are the deep doors, seals for which shut under the sills meaning you never have to get dirt from the sills on your pants - a problem with other tall vehicles.

The styling is something that got a few people talking. The front especially is fussy with so many grilles and slots. The anodized red highlights most people liked and the overall look was perceived as quality and luxury by most. Citroen offers the Aircross with a 5-year, unlimited kilometre warranty as well as 5-years of fixed-price servicing.

The versatile C5 Aircross drives easily and performs all thatís asked of it well. Comfort and equipment levels are right up there. If I was considering a car of its type, Iíd have to seriously think about the C5. Quirks and all. Itís a car worthy of increasing Citroen sales here.

VITAL STATISTICS


Engine: 1598cc 4-cylinder petrol turbo
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Power: 121kW
Torque: 240Nm
Price: $43,990 at time of review
Text & photos - Paul Blank (copyright)