CITROEN has a winner with the C5 Aircross.
The C5 Aircross has been a key model for the French marque from its 2017 launch and it's about to take the brand into a new era.
Within six months of going on sale, over 50,000 models had been delivered and it's updates include a plug-in hybrid electric version.
That brings a big saving if you only do a 15-miles commute each way and have access to a 7kW quick charger so you don't have to use the petrol engine. At that output the car is fully charged in about two hours.
However, if you do run out of charge the 1.6 litre petrol engine smoothly takes over and can regenerate some electricity while delivering nearly 40mpg as well. So you get the best of both worlds, green motoring and good performance.
What's more the sophisticated on-board powertrain computer can utilise the available charge in the traction battery to boost overall performance if needed for a rapid overtake.
You really feel like you have a 2.5 or 3.0-litre conventional engine under your right foot, but of course without the fuel bills.
We have been a fan of the C5 Aircross since its launch and the PHEV model really adds to that pleasure with its mechanical refinement allied to truly exceptional comfort from the intelligent front coil and rear multi-link suspension aided by wide, deep and well supporting seats.
You can select three drive modes, essentially electric, mixed or sporting and the system does the rest.
The petrol engine is very smooth and usually noticeably quiet but press on and the busy note intrudes to join a constant background rumble from the tyres. Wind and other mechanical noises are low.
A very well designed and tuned eight-speed automatic transmission delivers instant responses, silken changes and you are never left wanting for performance.
I liked the powerful smooth brakes underfoot, the strong electric parking brake and easy if insulated steering feedback. The turning circle was good and it did not kick-back over bad roads.
Secondary controls on wheel spokes and column took care of most essential features with additional switche on the lower facia and central console but some were also built into the big infotainment screen high on the dash which might distract some users.
A smaller screen infront of the driver showed the usual roadspeed, engine revs., fuel and temperature levels and they were very clear.
Heating and ventilation was straightforward, easy to use and worked well to heat or cool the interior, with a huge sunroof and electric windows to give maximum choice.
There're lots of oddments spaces in this family five-seater with rear pockets and bins while those infront have large recesses and compartments to store essential items as well.
The knee-high boot floor is flat, wide and quite deep front to back, with a lower compartment for the power-cable and some tools and its overall capacity is quickly expanded as the three rear seats can be dropped in stages.
Access is good for everyone and inside the head, leg and elbow room is very good with driver and passenger enjoying a lot of manual adjustment, but the steering column movement is limited.
The quality of seating is very good and the C5 Aircross comfort is truly exceptional at this price. All bumps are cushioned by the system and nothing seemed to get into disturb the occupants although you could hear how hard it was working.
There was some trade off because it would lean or roll around tighter bends at speed but how many drive in that manner for any distance?
Roadholding was generally good with a safe tendency to run wide or understeer sharp corners and then correct and firm up the line when the throttle or steering was eased back.
The C5 Aircross has an airy feel to the cabin thanks to the low waistline with big windows and visibility was good, except the pillars either side of the front windscreen and their accompanying big mirrors did combine to create blindspots at junctions or roundabouts. Cameras and sensors covered reversing and parking.
Our Shine example is one of seven trim levels and came very well equipped to integrate with a mobile phone and the only paid for option was £545 for metallicpaint. There are a number of no-cost options, which seems very good value in today's market, but the warranty is not exceptional.