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New Citroen C5 Aircross and revamped showroom promise magic carpet comfort
MOVE over, Aladdin. Cycle & Carriage France launched a new car yesterday that could give a magic carpet a run for its money.
The Citroen C5 Aircross is a new range-topper for the French car maker, which costs S$136,999 (with Certificate of Entitlement) for the Shine variant, while pricing for the better-equipped Shine Plus is to be confirmed.
To make it suitable for even a latter-day Princess Jasmine, the mid-sized family sport utility vehicle (SUV) is focused on one major thing: Ride comfort.
"Citroen is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and it's very important we continue the heritage of those 100 years," said Linda Jackson, Citroen's CEO. "One of the most important things for Citroen is comfort, and this strategy is delivering results for us worldwide - we delivered one million cars last year, and enjoyed record sales in Europe.
Developed under a programme called Citroen Advanced Comfort, the C5 Aircross features two innovations that the company says helps the car deliver a "magic carpet ride".
The first is found in the car's seats, which Citroen says were inspired from the world of furniture and bedding. They're extra wide and flat, and combine varying layers of foam that both envelop and support your back.
The other development involves the suspension. Conventional suspension systems employ hard rubber bump stops to prevent damage to the car (and its occupants) at full compression.
In the C5 Aircross, those rubber bump stops are swapped for hydraulic items, which slow the suspension's movement at a much more gradual rate, allowing the forces to dissipate instead of jolting the car.
In all other aspects, the C5 Aircross is a conventional, practical family SUV. The rear seats can not only recline and fold, but slide fore and aft too. Boot space ranges from 580-litres to 1,630-litres with the seats folded.
As the brand's flagship, the C5 Aircross comes packed with features. Highlights include a self-parking assist, bird's eye-view parking camera, panoramic sunroof, wireless charging, Apple CarPlay, and 19-inch wheels. Motive force is provided by a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine with 180hp and 250Nm of torque, which is coupled to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Citroen has seen worldwide sales rise under Ms Jackson, who has been chief executive since 2014. The brand has flourished here, too.
Eric Chan, managing director of Direct Motor Interest for Jardine Cycle & Carriage, the parent company of C&C France, said that when the company picked up the Citroen brand in 2006, there were only around 500 Citroens on the road in Singapore. That number has grown to more than 4,000.
Yet, the Citroen car's fortunes have recently taken a downturn. Mr Chan said sales were affected after last year's introduction of the Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES), which takes a harsher view of emissions from diesel engines than previous pollution standards. After peaking at 814 units in 2016, Citroen's sales fell to just 279 cars last year.
The company hopes that the C5 Aircross will help kick off a turnaround for the brand here. Ms Jackson was in town not only to launch the car, but also to officially open a newly-renovated showroom for Citroen at Alexandra Road. Renovated at a cost of S$500,000, the 3,300 square-foot space is the first one in South-east Asia designed to the brand's "La Maison" concept aimed at providing a more welcoming facade to customers, while also improving service and after-sales support.
The new showroom does have carpeting, but with the C5 Aircross around, it's the magic carpet experience that counts.