By Mike Torpey on 2019-10-27 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Citroen C5 Aircross
BlueHDi 130 Flair+
IT may have been the best part of a decade since Citroen last operated on the SUV scene, but the French manufacturer's return has been little short of sensational.
In the C5 Aircross the brand has a new vehicle that's already scooping up the awards - and that's in spite of a wave of competitors desperate to grab their share of the action.
Its looks may be more functional than fashion conscious but the amount of space, comfort, family-friendly features and economy you get with this car gives it a real edge over its principal rivals.
That's before you factor in the huge range of options enabling buyers to personalise the car to their own individual taste.
Costing from £23,230, the C5 Aircross holds several aces in its hand, notable among them something Citroen calls its Advanced Comfort system which includes a modified suspension, advanced shock absorbers and extra padded seats.
The result is a magic carpet ride that makes what is a substantial vehicle feel like it can float - even with a full complement aboard.
We are talking premium comfort and even though the Aircross does not have 4x4 capability you can pay Â£400 extra for the French brand's electronic Grip Control set-up that makes a pretty decent fist of of-road operations.
As for space, the car's flexible rear seating means you can adjust the luggage capacity from 580 to a huge 720 litres while folding everything down frees up a whopping 1,630 litres.
Cabin storage is also useful courtesy of a central flip-up container, a double opening centre console, large door bins, rear seat flaps, a glovebox and cupholders.
Three can sit in comfort across the back in all models but our tested Flair+ variant added some creature comforts like a double glass sunroof and a remote mobile phone charging pad.
It's well designed too, the digital instrument cluster with 12.3-inch screen displaying selected driving info in the driver's field of vision.
With an eye on economy the 1.5-litre BlueHDi turbo diesel engine, which develops 129bhp, fits well with the C5 and comes with sat nav plus Citroen's ConnectedCam dash cam system as standard.
Over 300 miles of mixed urban and open road driving - with the emphasis on suburban - we averaged 47.8 miles per gallon - pretty satisfying given the official return is 55.1mpg.
And at no point did the Aircross feel underpowered or laboured with its top speed of a potential 117mph and 0-62mph acceleration in a reasonable 10.4 seconds.
It's quiet too, even at motorway speeds and serves the dual purpose of being an ideal family conveyance for everyday motoring and also a smooth, airy, long distance workhorse.
Factor in its 19 driver assistance technologies plus another half dozen for connectivity and this really is a next generation SUV.
Citroen C5 Aircross BlueHDi 130 Flair+
Mechanical: 129bhp, 1,499cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 117mph
0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
Combined MPG: 55.1
Insurance Group: 18
C02 emissions: 108g/km
Bik rating: 29%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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