IN a day and age when the car market is flooded with SUV-styled vehicles, a new arrival needs to be pretty special to stand out from the crowd and the Citroen C5 Aircross does just that.
The French manufacturer's five-door flagship model is a great looking car and is instantly recognisable with its discreet airbumps, gloss black rear bumper and front grille, tinted windows, narrow LED daytime running lights, twin tail pipes, 3D rear lights and 19-inch alloy wheels. Viewed from the side, it looks like the car has a floating roof thanks to the gloss black front and door pillars which adds to its special appeal.
Our range-topping Flair+ model also boasted some attractive red splashes of colour on the roof rails, bumper and doors and this contrasted nicely with the Pearlescent white paintwork.
The interior is classy and upmarket with a wealth of on-board technology to explore. And it needed to be with the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar viewed as realistic rivals.
Creature comforts are plentiful and include Nappa leather upholstered seats, along with an eight-inch touchscreen where all the car's technology is accessed such as MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, DAB digital radio, navigation system and the climate control.
Our car costing £30,830 (£32,265 with options) was powered by a 1.5-litre, 129ps diesel engine mated to an eight-speed fully automatic gearbox.
It could sprint from 0-62mph in 11.8 seconds, topped out at 117mph and, according to official WLTP figures, could achieve combined fuel economy of 48.0-56.3mpg with carbon emissions of 106-108g/km.
With practicality in mind, the C5 Aircross tricks all the right boxes with a boot capacity that ranges from 580 litres to 1,630 litres with the trio of individual rear seats dropped flat.
These seats also slide forwards and backwards and can be tilted at an angle. Elsewhere there are 32 litres worth of additional storage options, including a closed glovebox, open dashboard compartment, front and rear door pockets, a fixed central storage box with sliding lid, front cup holders, map pockets on the front seat backs and garment hooks.
Comfort levels are high for all occupants and the driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility thanks to the elevated seating position. All dials, controls and readouts are well positioned for easy access and the 12.3-inch TFT instrument display is fully customisable.
On the downside, accessing the climate control means taking your eyes off the road while navigating the touchscreen which is quite annoying to say the least.
There are quick access keys that speed the process up a little, but it's still too over-complicated for my liking. But that was my only gripe from behind the wheel of this funky SUV.
The driving experience was most impressive with plenty of power from the diesel engine and smooth gear switches from automatic gearbox.
The road holding is assured and there is only a slight sign of any body movement when bends are attacked with a little too much gusto. The highly efficient suspension system also deserves a mention as it did a very valid job of smoothing out the uneven road surfaces.
The C5 Aircross also proved nice and agile in busier town centres where it was easy to manoeuvre. That excellent all-round visibility is a plus factor here with cars, cyclists and pedestrians darting out from all directions.
And there are a number of safety features and driver aids to help protect occupants and pedestrians.
These include anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency brake assist, dynamic stability control, anti-skid system, hill start assist, a driver fatigue monitor and a full suite of airbags.
All in all, the Citroen C5 Aircross may be a relative newcomer to the busy SUV sector, but it certainly has its very own unique charm.