Citroen takes a

comfortable lead

Citroen C5 Aircross, full front static
Citroen C5 Aircross, side static
Citroen C5 Aircross, front action
Citroen C5 Aircross, front action 2
Citroen C5 Aircross, front action 3
Citroen C5 Aircross, rear action
Citroen C5 Aircross, rear static
Citroen C5 Aircross, sunroof
Citroen C5 Aircross, front seats
Citroen C5 Aircross, dashboard
Citroen C5 Aircross, dashboard 2
Citroen C5 Aircross, boot

LISTEN to the people who sell us new cars and you'd think we all want something swift and sporty enough to embarrass Lewis Hamilton on a summer Sunday afternoon.

Can we please now all shout together: 'No we don't'. Instead, let's hear it for comfortable, roomy family cars that will take a growing tribe of youngsters a long way without world war three breaking out in the back.

Well, one car company has anticipated our plea for real world appeal, in the shape of the new Citroen C5 Aircross. It's aim, clearly, is to make motoring less stressful, not more sporting.

To that end this biggish SUV is focused on giving driver and passengers the most comfortable ride in its class, thanks to a suspension with 20 patents protecting its cleverness.

Then, there are seats with an extra layer of softness on the most popular models and a double layer of insulated glass in the front side windows on top versions.

All of which shows Citroen is serious about comfort - and in more ways that simply suspension suppleness.

A practical touch sure to make the newcomer more family friendly are three equally sized rear seats, each of which slides and folds and a boot that, at up to 720 litres with those seats in place and a massive 1,630 with them folded, is claimed to be the biggest in its class.

Add in lots of storage compartments and the C5 Aircross comes laden with static showroom appeal and priced from £23,225 for a Feel version with 130 horsepower petrol engine and a six-speed manual gearbox.

Citroen thinks the next trim level, Flair will be the biggest seller. These cars start at £25,325 with the same powertrain, while the range tops out with the Flair Plus, from £27,725 with the same engine and gearbox doing the work.

Also available are more powerful petrol and diesel engines with 180 horsepower and eight-speed automatic gearboxes, and a 130 horsepower diesel. A £400 option on automatics brings Grip Control, which electronically governs power to the driven (front) wheels in slippery conditions.

The C5 Aircross in Feel trim comes with automatic dual zone climate control, rear parking sensors, active safety braking, 17ins alloys, DAB radio and a mirror screen for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Moving up to the Flair you'll add front parking sensors and a reversing camera, bigger alloy wheels, the more comfortable seats (and adjustable lumbar for the driver) and satellite navigation among the highlights.

Top Flair Plus additions include auto dipping headlights, powered tailgate, active cruise control, panoramic opening sunroof, bigger still (now 19ins) alloy wheels and wireless smartphone charging. Those extra quiet side windows arrive here too.

Whichever model of C5 Aircross your budget (or self restraint) allows you'll have a car that clearly follows - and now heads - a Citroen revival with cars that look interestingly different.

Not in the deliberately odd way that make older Citroens stand out and be loved by some and loathed enough by others to make them unprofitable footnotes in motoring history. But different in a chunky, modern and inoffensive way that will surely win admirers.

So too will your first drive on a typically worn British road. The car's clever suspension involves giving its traditional dampers a bit of added softness at their extremes; a cost effective way of adding subtlety to the way it rides.

The result is not a magic carpet but a useful lessening of the constant minor thumps and crashes that too many 'sporty' set ups inflict on us. It helps to make every journey that little less stressful; so thank you Citroen.

Tried out in a Flair level car with 1.5 litre diesel and manual gears, the way the car takes the sting out of surfaces fitted nicely with performance that's entirely adequate but not at all sporty - 117mph and 10.4 seconds to 62mph in cold figures.

Real world ownership may reckon the 54.2mpg recorded over an admittedly unchallenging test drive is more relevant - and encouragingly close to the 55.1mpg official claim.

Which sums up the latest Citroen; a car that doesn't shoot for the stars but delivers on more down to earth promises. You expect that will suit lots of families just fine.


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