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Citroën C5 Aircross review: Unmitigated Gaul
TOMORROW the Tour De France gets underway, which means men with ostrich legs and no fat in their buttocks are about to infest the Alps on bicycles. If they had any sense at all, they would be tackling the route in one of these, the Citroën C5 Aircross.
It's a family-friendly crossover with a French twist; it's no coincidence that you can comfortably stash a bottle of claret in the centre console, if you ask me.
No matter how much wine you've had, you should have no trouble spotting your C5 Aircross in the car park (not that you should have your keys on you when you've hit the sauce, of course). In a sea of sinewy and sharp-edged designs, it stands out for its genial blobbiness and soft, Gallic features.
The main idea behind the C5 Aircross is that it should be a sort of substitute multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), with all the versatility of one but none of the avuncularity.
Accordingly, it has five individual chairs that can slide and recline, and the late Andre the Giant would have fit comfortably in the boot. He would have had to, because there's no way he could have squeezed through the rather narrow rear doors.
Inside, things are more chic than posh, and once you get used to the mostly digital controls, the C5 Aircross is an easy car to live with. The cabin plastics bring the tone down somewhat, but at least the Citroën feels spacious and airy inside.
A turbo engine gives it a decent amount of zest, but this isn't a car for driving enthusiasts. The transmission shifts with the odd clunk now and then, and if you try to corner hard, the protest from the tyres is as vehement as what you get when French truckers discover that fuel prices have gone up.
Yet, Citroën says the C5 Aircross is built to cosset rather than thrill. It credits a new kind of suspension damper (involving 20 patents, no less) with letting the car float over bumps like a magic carpet.
That might be overstating things a bit because you can still feel bumps, but the Citroën is softly-sprung enough to deliver a pillowy ride.
Special foam layers in the seats are meant to optimise their supportive/squishy ratio, and if you've ever driven in Paris, you'll know why this all makes sense. Over the French capital's many jouncy cobblestoned streets, the C5 Aircross must be bliss.
Great visibility and a tight turning circle are other reasons it's at home in city traffic.
For similar money you could do better (the Skoda Karoq is a standout in the class), but if comfort and a bit of panache are your priorities, the Citroën warrants a look. It's a soothing way to get around, even if you're not a cyclist who is abnormally bony in the backside department.
Citroën C5 Aircross Puretech 180
Engine 1,598cc, turbocharged in-line four
Power 180hp at 5500rpm
Torque 250Nm at 1650rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
0-100km/h 9.0 seconds
Top Speed 219km/h
Fuel Efficiency 5.7L/100km
Agent Cycle & Carriage France
Price S$124,999 with COE