For many car buyers with modest budgets and a family to transport around, the switch to full EV is simply not viable from either a practicality or cost point of view. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) appear to be the current best solution, a role that Citroën’s C5 Aircross fulfills admirably.
Tested in range-topping trim, the PHEV nets an output of 222bhp from its combination of direct injection, 1,600cc I4 and electric motor, teamed with a 13.4kWh electric battery. This endows the C5 with over 48km of pure EV range (if driven carefully) and gives sprightly enough performance when needed. Unlike the Peugeot 3008, with which the C5 shares some of its underpinnings, there is no four-wheel-drive option available.
However, in the greatest Citroën tradition, comfort is where the C5 excels. Sporting it is not, but why should an SUV be sporting when its primary aim is to carry a family in relative, affordable comfort? Over the UK’s invariably potholed roads it does an excellent job of insulating you from most jarring hits, with Citroën’s Progressive Hydraulic Cushions playing their part well. These are effectively hydraulic bump stops that give a more progressive transition between compression and rebound than a traditional damper with mechanical bump stop.
Pitch the C5 into a corner vigorously and body roll is pronounced, with some shimmying from the body structure over braking bumps and through lumpy corners. However, overall the C5 does a better job than its peers when it comes to keeping its occupants comfortable. Couple this with reasonable economy from the hybrid powertrain and the appeal of all-electric operation for short trips, and the C5 makes a sound case as comfortable transportation for a family of four.