By Mike Torpey on 2023-04-23 - 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
1.6 Shine Plug-in
SERENITY reigns supreme is the mantra from car company Citroen with reference to its compact crossover C5 Aircross model.
And the French company is confident its C5 line-up offers a level of driving comfort never before felt in a car. Given that there are super luxury models out there costing 10 times the price, that's quite some claim.
There's credibility in what they say though, because the seats in the Aircross are not only multi-adjustable but have an extra top layer of thick-textured memory foam and, on some models, a massage function too.
It's part of the brand's Advanced Comfort programme based around four main themes - practicality, fluidity, peace of mind and the cocoon effect.
In truth, the latter theme embodies all four in that it covers essential elements needed for easy, stress-free family travel - in no particular order - brightness, insulation from wind and road noise, an air purifying system and wide sag-resistant seats inspired by the most comfortable furniture.
They genuinely are comfortable too, with wide cushions and seat backs, as well as a 15mm layer of thick textured foam at the surface.
It's also worth pointing out that with three individual seats in the rear, the C5 Aircross sets itself apart in its area of the car market.
As they are of identical width, they provide the same comfort for the middle passenger as for the other occupants - a rare treat - and they also recline, offering five different positions, and can also slide forward by up to 150mm and be folded to form a fully flat load space.
Practical space is also very much a crucial part of the C5 Aircross make-up in that overall space it is all well devised. The 580-litre boot extends to 720 litres with the rear seats slid fully forward and a whopping 1,630 litres with everything flat.
That's in addition to various oddments spaces like door bins, glovebox, lidded central container and various cup holders.
While both petrol and diesel versions of the C5 Aircross are up for grabs, our tested model was the plug-in hybrid in mid-range Shine trim.
Featuring a 1.6-litre petrol engine boosted by an electric motor, the PHEV develops a hefty 221bhp making it capable of hitting 62mph from standstill in 8.7 seconds with a top speed potential of 140mph.
Significantly, and in the space of just a few months since the plug-in hybrid was launched, Citroen has upgraded the car's battery to give it a better electric-only range of 41 miles.
The gain is only small, from 39 miles, but the drop in CO2 emissions from 32-29g/km also means a cut in benefit-in-kind tax banding (12 down to eight per cent) so that a 40 per cent taxpayer driving this model saves £47 a month.
That advanced comfort programme also extends to the car's suspension with an initiative Citroen calls the ‘magic carpet' effect which filters out and absorbs imperfections in the road surface.
We found the Aircross Hybrid a joy to drive - smooth and serene on all types of road, the only minor niggle being steering that's a touch on the light side.
But the turning circle is terrific and parking made all the easier courtesy of a reversing camera that includes a bird's eye view.
There are three drive modes accessed via a switch close to the gearshift - pure electric for city and suburban driving, hybrid which gives the best combination of engine and electric power and sport for the sharpest performance.
Citroen C5 Aircross 1.6 Shine Plug-in Hybrid
Mechanical:221bhp, 1,598cc 4-cyl turbo petrol engine plus electric motor driving front wheels via automatic transmission
Combined MPG:157.2 (41 miles electric range)
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