The Citroën C5 Aircross SUV Plug-in Hybrid offers up to 34 miles of electric driving range, a practical and spacious body style, comfortable ride quality, and it’s good value.
Citroen may be later to market than some other brands with a plug-in hybrid model, but if you’re looking for a practical SUV body style with up to 34 miles of driving range, and comfortable ride quality, then the C5 Aircross SUV Plug-in Hybrid may be the answer.
The Citroën C5 Aircross SUV Plug-in Hybrid has a 181hp 4-cylinder, 1.6-litre petrol engine and an 81kW electric motor powered by a 13.2kWh battery. Combined hybrid maximum power (petrol and electric) is 225bhp. The engine’s maximum torque is 250Nm, and the electric motor’s maximum torque is a considerable 500Nm. There’s an 8-speed automatic transmission and the C5 Aircross is front-wheel drive.
It’s an SUV, so it’s spacious, with a large boot (460 litres with the rear seats up, 1510 litres with the rear seats down). The rear seat backs can also be folded down individually.
We think it looks good on the outside and the inside; it’s worth noting that other colours are available apart from the dark grey of our test car (never a great colour for photography in dark winter months near Manchester).
The C5 Aircross’s main party trick is that it’s very comfortable to drive. Ride quality is good, and Citroen would put this down to its suspension system with ‘Progressive Hydraulic Cushions’ which smooths out poor road surfaces. The C5 Aircross also has very comfortable seats. Add in a refined and almost silent powertrain in electric mode – and this is an ideal car for shuttling the family around the terrible road surfaces of many of our built-up areas. However it’s also quiet and comfortable at motorway speeds.
It’s responsive in electric mode thanks to all the torque from the electric powertrain, and there’s also good performance from the petrol engine when that’s being used – although it can sometimes sound revvy under enthusiastic acceleration.
There are three drive modes to choose between: Electric, Hybrid or Sport, and the drive mode switch is very conveniently located between the driver and the gear selector. And you can opt for D or B (increased brake regeneration) modes using the gear selector.
You can also choose to save, or charge, the battery. This is done via a small button on the far left of the centre console, marked with a lightning strike or electric ‘zap’. You can set the system to ‘e-save’ 6, 12 or ‘max’ miles of battery range.
Although the C5 Aircross is an SUV, and is therefore designed to look like it can head off-road, it’s front-wheel drive only rather than four-wheel drive.
The interior and infotainment system basically works well. There’s good news that you can easily switch off the lane departure warning system with a press of a button. However one thing that is always useful in an EV is heated seats (and a heated steering wheel is the ultimate in comfort); heated seats save the cabin heating using up the battery charge and reducing the driving range – but neither of these appear in the C5 Aircross.
An interesting feature is the blue light on the front of the rearview mirror, which is illuminated when the vehicle is in 100% electric, zero-tailpipe emission mode.
One final thing to watch out for is the car ‘whistling’ at you as you approach speed cameras. This is basically a good thing, but it can get a bit much when you drive down the M6 and it’s whistling at you every few hundred metres for mile after mile.
The official WLTP combined fuel economy for the Citroën C5 Aircross SUV Plug-in Hybrid is 157.2–222.3mpg (WLTP), with CO2 emissions of 32-41g/km (WLTP). It has an official electric driving range (WLTP) of up to 34 miles. In our real-world testing, at the start of winter, the C5 Aircross was averaging 28 miles of electric range.
And after a week of mixed driving, including a motorway drive from Manchester to Birmingham and back, the average fuel economy was 64.1mpg. This would be much higher if the car was primarily driven locally on electric power. At 70mph on the petrol engine the C5 Aircross was averaging 43.4mpg.
The C5 Aircross has a 6.6kW onboard charger and can be fully charged in less than two hours using a 7kW home charger.
The Citroën C5 Aircross SUV Flair Plus Plug-in Hybrid costs £36,845. Trim levels are Flair (from £35,370) and Flair Plus (as tested).
The Citroën C5 Aircross SUV Plug-in Hybrid offers a spacious body style, a comfortable ride, and a decent electric range – all in a package that is good value. Like most plug-in hybrids, it’s most refined and responsive when using electric power, but it’s also good to drive when in Hybrid or Sport mode. Be aware that this is a front-wheel drive SUV, so don’t plan any trips over snow-covered mountains or through muddy fields. The Citroën C5 Aircross gains a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.
Our standard advice about plug-in hybrids applies: If you’re planning to buy a plug-in hybrid for low company car tax, and typically drive long distances without charging, a PHEV won’t deliver anywhere near the advertised fuel economy. However PHEVs can deliver excellent economy and low emissions if driven primarily on electric power, with occasional use for longer journeys.