BARELY a year since it first hit our roads, the C5 Aircross has established itself as a firm favourite for Citroen.
Some 50,000 were shifted in its first six months on sale and more than double that have now been bought by drivers across Europe.
Cashing in on the unwavering demand for SUVs, the C5 Aircross' distinctive styling instantly made it a standout choice in this hugely popular but increasingly generic market sector.
The plastic ‘airbumps' which have become a brand trademark feature along the flanks and have an increasingly decorative function as well as protecting the paintwork from annoying chips and dinks.
Chunky bumpers and wheel arches, large alloy wheels, raised ground clearance and roof rails all help to create a presence that SUV admirers crave, without being overly muscular, while the split-level headlights are also now a Citroen staple.
As if all of this doesn't make the C5 Aircross eye catching enough, seven body colours, an optional black roof, three colour packs and four wheel designs offer a host of personalisation options. With 30 different exterior combinations possible this is not the car for shrinking violets who like to blend in.
Add a comfortable, spacious interior to the mix, with some practical features taken from the French car maker's people carriers, and you have a versatile family motor with plenty of appeal for those who prefer to make a bit of a style statement.
The cabin is well appointed and with three full-size rear seats that individually slide, recline and fold away, this is one of the most flexible SUVs in its class.
Head and leg room is good and three will fit comfortably in the back, with no transmission tunnel intruding into their foot space, while there are enough personal storage cubbies and charge points to cope with most needs.
Those sliding seats mean that boot capacity can be varied between 580 and 720 litres, depending upon whether rear legroom or load space is being prioritised, and rises to a capacious 1,630 litres with all three of them folded down. An adjustable floor and, on top spec versions, a powered tailgate make for easy loading and unloading.
Three trim grades - Feel, Flair and Flair Plus - are available and even the entry level comes equipped with an eight-inch touchscreen interface, digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist.
Nevertheless, most buyers opt for mid or top-spec versions and our Flair grade test car also benefited from navigation, a rear view camera, advanced comfort seats with extra padding and Citroen's ConnectedCAM.
The latter is a built-in camera system, located at the base of the rear view mirror, which allows you to take photos or video footage, in the event of an accident, for instance, which you can download by email.
For the time being power comes from a choice of petrol or diesel engines mated to either a six-speed manual or smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox, with a recently revealed plug-in hybrid set to join the range in the future.
Our test car had a 180ps diesel power plant under the bonnet which is only available with Flair and Flair Plus trims and only with the automatic transmission.
It's a durable unit which pulls well through the rev range, offering responsive acceleration and plenty of pace on the motorway but is equally at home in urban traffic.
Steering is light but accurate and, although there's some body roll in corners it is not excessive and the C5 Aircross generally handles well for an SUV.
Lumps, bumps and potholes are certainly ironed out effectively thanks to Citroen's innovative suspension, with what it calls ‘progressive hydraulic cushions', ensuring that passengers are wafted along in blissful ignorance of such imperfections in the road surface.