Citroën has launched its C5 Aircross SUV Hybrid as the first instalment of an electric offensive. Set to hit the road next year, it kicks off the start of a run of models which will include both battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. By 2025, Citroën's aim is to have an electrified version of its entire range.
As well as the brand's first PHEV powertrain, the C5 Aircross SUV brings with it a new phase of the Citroen Advanced Comfort programme, better connectivity and best-in-class luggage space. And it's this focus on Citroën-y comfort that might help the C5 Aircross carve a niche in the crowded C-segment PHEV SUV field...
Powering the C5 Aircross is a PHEV powertrain that Citroën designates as the 225 ë-EAT8. Under the bonnet is the brand's familiar 1.6 litre, turbocharged petrol engine producing 177bhp. This works in combination with a 107bhp electric motor which is installed between the engine and the eight-speed automatic gearbox. Combined, the system output is 221bhp alongside 236 lb-ft of torque – all of which is sent to the front wheels.
The electric motor is served by a 13.2kWh lithium-ion battery which runs at 200V. It's good for 31 miles on electric-only power under WLTP conditions, and can power the C5 Aircross up to 84mph before the petrol motor kicks in to assist. Regenerative braking helps increase efficiency, which is rated at 166mpg and CO2 emissions of just 39g/km. An ë-Save driving mode enables drivers to ensure there's always a reserve of battery power available to use on demand – for example if their journey takes them through a town or city.
Charging from empty can be done in under two hours using the on-board 7.4kW charger either in public or with a home wall box. A three-pin can be used with an optional cable and charges in around six hours. As with most EVs and PHEVs, charging can be immediate upon plugging in or programmed to happen overnight – in this case via the in-car touchscreen, e-Remote Control or MyCitroën app.
Whilst the C5 Aircross has plenty of power to be getting on with, its goal isn't to set the world alight in the corners. Citroëns have always been comfortable, and with the C5 Aircross SUV Hybrid the brand is hoping to take that to the next level through its Citroën Advanced Comfort Programme.
For the PHEV C5 they've called this extra level of comfort 'ë-comfort class', which features extremely low NVH, especially in EV mode. There is a greater level of noise insulation provided by acoustic laminated front windows, the suspension which features Progressive Hydraulic Cushions (a feature that comes from the brand's WRC programme) and Advanced Comfort seats, which Citroën hopes will ape the ‘magic carpet’ effect of its core range. A starter-alternator and optimised gearbox means the car is apparently almost free of vibration when starting and running, and has jolt-free gearshifts.
Those seats are a work of engineering in comfort on their own thanks to several levels of foam padding. Each layer is designed to optimise passenger comfort, and in the front at least, multi-way adjustment ensures that occupants can drive around in pure postural pleasure. In the rear, the three individual seats can be slid, folded or reclined. Thanks to the fact that the battery is situated beneath them, the C5 Aircross has between 400 and 600 litres of seats-up boot space (depending on seat position) – the largest in the C-segment SUV class.
A total of 19 driver assistance systems enable level 2 autonomous driving – so adaptive cruise, lane keep assist and warning systems to reduce the stress and workload on the driver. Clear and intuitive interfaces are a central component of the car's interior revamp and provide a link between driver and powertrain.
A 12.3-inch digital dashboard can be configured to display a range of driving and powertrain stats such as power use, battery and petrol level and energy flow. This also serves to help drivers optimise their efficiency behind the wheel.
A centrally-mounted touchscreen deals with the infotainment in the car and is compatible with the ever-present Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with MirrorScreen capability. Through this, various powertrain and charging functions can be managed, such as the ë-Save driving feature and deferred charging. Citroën Connect Nav satellite navigation displays via this screen with prompts also displayed via the driver's digital dashboard. It comes with a three year subscription to live traffic updates as well as POI including nearby charge points.
UK prices for the C5 Aircross SUV Hybrid start at £35,340 with specs expected to be in line with its conventionally-powered C5 Aircross. Deliveries of the start early next year.