By : RACHNA TYAGI
They say “good things take time” and perhaps that is what best describes the reason for renowned French car maker, Citroën’s late entry into India. Now, that they have arrived with their flagship model, the C5 Aircross SUV, we get behind the wheel to tell you all about it.
One look at the C5 Aircross and you immediately know that this is indeed quite a unique offering on two counts: A) It retains subtle hints of classic car design, yet manages to look every bit futuristic and B) It is a beautiful combination of both, power and performance. However, its greatest strength lies in the unbelievable levels of comfort that it offers and that is no exaggeration. (More on that later). There is a certain boldness about the C5 Aircross’ design which isn’t brash and in your face. On the contrary, it is a welcome departure from the aggressive looking vehicles that we have been seeing over the years, and the C5 Aircross’ elegance just shines through. Don’t believe us? Take a look at the C5 Aircross again and you will see that there are no sharp cuts, creases, or angular dimensions on it. Not to mention, minimal use of chrome, which is such a whiff of fresh air. Overall, the C5 Aircross has a great stance, beautiful proportions, and fantastic road presence. Be prepared to be ogled at, quite a bit, while you drive it around.
The front fascia of the C5 Aircross, frankly, is unlike anything we’ve seen before. It boasts a modern interpretation of the double chevron design, the double helical gear that Andre Citroën developed even before he founded the company, along with the striking DRLs and headlamps which really stand out.
There is a smoothness about the C5 Aircross’ body design which is neither outwardly bulging nor overtly sucked in and the curved side panels add further dimension to the C5 Aircross making it even more appealing. We also loved the manner in which the beautiful band of chrome runs around the windows. At the top, it makes the roof rails distinctly stand out by running almost parallel to it, and then the way the chrome band flattens to form a thick slab, near the C-pillar, really says a lot about how cleverly it has been used by designers at Citroën to break the visual monotony in more places than one.
The C5 Aircross’ taillamps with the four rectangular 3D modules also look gorgeous.
And then, there are the 18’ SWIRL aluminum wheels which further add to its good looks.
Inside the C5 Aircross, a world of supreme comfort greets you in different shades of grey. From the minute we experienced the beautifully contoured, thick textured, fabric-leather seats, we immediately knew that this was a whole new level of comfort. From the materials used on the chequered patterned seats, (Grey Grained Leather and Graphite Cloth) to its seating position to the thigh support on offer and the amount of space, all of it speaks volumes about the thought that has gone into ensuring that comfort remains the top priority not just for the driver of the C5 Aircross but also for all its occupants. Take the rear seats for instance, instead of one seat, as seen on most cars, the C5 Aircross, gets three wide, well-cushioned, independently adjustable seats with multiple reclining positions. Definitely a first for India.
Brushed aluminum also makes its way to the interiors and can be seen on the door handles as well as other inserts which though a fingerprint magnate, does play a big role in elevating the premium feel of the C5 Aircross.
Furthermore, everything inside is a pretty much top-quality offering, in terms of the materials used. The dashboard gets a glossy black finish, which looks good against the grey seats, along with horizontal lines.
There is a bunch of tech on offer too such as the 8-inch touchscreen.
There is also a really beautiful 12.3-inch TFT digital instrument panel. Both offer incredibly clear displays and can even be personalized to get you not just the important data that you need while driving but also to remember your personal preferences, adding more comfort to your drive with all the info handy while elevating the comfort factor even higher.
The C5 Aircross gets a 4-cylinder, 2.0-Liter (1997cc), DW 10FC, diesel engine that has been mated to the latest EAT8 Automatic gearbox which delivers 177 PS of power and a whopping 400 Nm of torque. That’s a lot of torque for an SUV this size, but hey, we made the most of it and so, no, we’re not complaining. Far from it. We really liked the fact that the tilt and telescopic steering is pretty clean and clutter-free minus a crazy bunch of buttons that these days, have found a way of ending up on the steering.
While the steering-mounted paddle shifts were fun and allowed us to change gears manually, we were just smitten with the beautiful new gear lever – very different from what we’ve seen before – enabling super smooth gearshifts and thereby multiplying our driving pleasure manifold. Even shifting between the manual and automatic modes with just a press of the button was pretty straightforward and we loved the tiny beautiful brushed aluminum casing for the ‘M’ button which added that extra touch of refinement to the gear selector. Then there was the Grip Control on the center console that allowed for secure traction in five different conditions such as sand, snow, etc. We tried it in the All-Terrain mode… on mud and came away impressed. Besides this, we also tried the Hill Descent Assist feature and are happy to report that it works in both, the forward as well as the reverse gears and makes life that much more stress-free.
The C5 Aircross distinguishes itself through the comfort factor that it offers to everybody seated inside the cabin and this happens because the guys over at Citroën have spent millions of man hours trying to assess every little nuance that contributes to the fatigue factor while driving cars and have come up with a number of incredibly clever solutions to counter that. The first thing that the C5 Aircross gets is double laminated front windows and acoustic windshield glass and believe us when we tell you what a world of difference this makes by keeping all unwanted sounds out of the cabin. For starters, even after driving for over 200+ kms at incredibly high speeds, I did not experience an iota of fatigue and that should tell you a lot. Add to that Progressive Hydraulic Cushions which smoothen the ride quality in a very different way from conventional cars giving the C5 Aircross, the fabled Flying Carpet effect. You don’t need us to tell you how not having your head and torso bobbing around on every pock marked Mumbai road every few seconds further leaves you feeling fresher throughout the drive.
Then there is also the Air Quality System (AQS) that filters and purifies cabin air thereby ensuring that you’re only breathing in good quality air.
Furthermore, the 5.35m turning radius served the C5 Aircross well and it didn’t take us long to realize what an asset it can be especially in traffic, especially when we wanted to do quick turns.
In terms of safety, the C5 Aircross gets 10 safety and driver systems which range from Blindspot Monitoring System to Foglights with Static Cornering Function to Coffee Break Alert, all of which ensure that the driver as well as other occupants are safe at all times.
We drove the C5 Aircross quite a bit and were really impressed with its quick acceleration and high-speed stability. With a 52.5-Liter fuel tank capacity that delvers 18.6 kmpl and 1630 liters of boot space with the rear seats folded, this could well be your new companion on those road trips that you have been wanting to take. Clearly, the C5 Aircross is an incredibly fresh and promising offering that will easily cut across age groups, attracting people from different generations alike because of its solid build quality, gorgeous design, impeccable road manners and exhilarating performance.
Offered in two variants, Feel and Shine, the C5 Aircross, comes in four body colours, Pearl White, Cumulus Grey, Tijuca Blue and Perla Nera Black of which three colours, barring Perla Nera Black, can also be purchased with a bi-tone roof option.
With a standard warranty for 3 years/100,000 kms and 24/7 roadside assistance, and learning about Citroën’s long-term India plans, owning the C5 Aircross not only seems like a very tempting proposition but also a pretty much hassle-free one. Now, all eyes are on the price tag, which should be announced in the coming weeks. Expect it to be in the INR 30 lakh territory. It's definitely not going to be cheap, but then, you weren't shopping for a budget car either, were you?