David MottonSee other tow car reviews written by David Motton
Tow Car Editor
The C5 Aircross has Progressive Hydraulic Cushions, designed to improve ride comfort. Does it make the car too soft for controlled towing? We find out.
The C5 Aircross is Citroën's latest SUV to rival the Honda CR-V and Škoda Kodiaq. There are no four-wheel-drives, but you can have traction control that adjusts to the terrain. We're testing the top-spec BlueHDi 180 diesel, at just under £33,000.
Including 75kg for the driver (not included in Citroën's published kerbweight), the C5 Aircross has a kerbweight of 1615kg.
That gives the range-topping diesel model an 85% match figure of 1373kg, well within the 1650kg legal maximum.
However, it's a shame the noseweight limit is just 66kg - it will require care to avoid exceeding this, given the size and weight of tourers the C5 Aircross is capable of towing.
We matched the Citroën to a Swift Fairway Platinum 480 with a MiRO of 1282kg.
The punchy 2.0-litre diesel has 295lb ft of torque, more than enough to pull a caravan of this weight quickly up to speed. The eight-speed auto is excellent, swapping ratios promptly. It makes for relaxed and easy-going towing.
It helps that the C5 Aircross is stable as well as quick. In still air, the Citroën was more than happy towing at 60mph on the motorway, and unfazed by country roads. We only found it moved around slightly when being overtaken by high-sided vehicles, but even then, we never had cause to feel nervous.
If corrections are needed, it helps that the steering isn't quite as sharp as the similar Peugeot 5008's. It's direct enough, without being 'pointy' to the extent that it's easy to steer more than you intended.
A hill start poses no problem, certainly in the dry. We found the electronic parking brake held firm and released smoothly when required, and there was no trouble putting the car's power to the road.
However, it's worth noting that no 4x4 version of the C5 Aircross is available. The car can be specified with a traction control system, called Grip Control, which adjusts to the terrain. But if you regularly use grass pitches in all weathers, you might prefer an SUV with all-wheel drive.
Once on site, we found the Citroën easy to manoeuvre. The excellent rear-view camera made aligning the towball and hitch head easy. It's a shame the electrics are tucked so far under the bumper, however.
Citroën is proud of the C5 Aircross's suspension, which has hydraulic stops at either end of its travel. The system promises to smooth over any bumps in the road, but while the C5 Aircross is mostly comfortable, it's not quite the revolution Citroën claims.
At low speeds, it still feels a bit lumpy over poor surfaces, but the suspension works well at high speeds, feeling supple but not overly soft.
The Citroën is in its element on A-roads and motorways, covering long distances in comfort and quiet, with low levels of wind and road noise.
On country roads, it corners neatly, but if you want a sporty drive, you might consider the Mazda CX-5 or Seat Tarraco.
The C5 Aircross is strictly a five-seater, whereas many of its rivals offer room for seven.
On the plus side, having just five seats allows for a huge boot. There's 580 litres with the rear seats upright, which can be extended to 720 litres if you slide the three individual rear seats all the way forward.
Mind you, anyone travelling in the back might not be keen to give up any legroom, as space isn't particularly generous.
Headroom is tight in models fitted with a panoramic sunroof (standard on our high-spec test car). But the flat floor makes it easy to sit in the middle without a transmission tunnel getting in the way. Air vents between the front seats should keep those in the back cool.
The Citroën's dashboard looks striking; but on close inspection, the finish could be far better, wtih too many hard, shiny plastics for a £32k car. However, all but the base model have plush 'Advanced Comfort' seats, which we found lived up to their name.
Go for the top-spec Flair+ we have on test, and you'll be asked for £31,730. Haggling will pay off, with discounts of almost £2000 available, according to What Car? magazine.
The C5 should be affordable to run, with a 25E insurance group and official combined economy of 42.3-47.1mpg. We achieved 28.5mpg while towing.
The car has a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, and the Flair+ is very well equipped.
|Engine size||1997 cc|
|85% KW||1373 kg|
|Towball limit||66 kg|
|Maximum towing limit||1650 kg|
|Torque||295.0 lb ft|
|Official MPG||42.3 mpg|
|Towing MPG||28.5 mpg|
A fine tow car, but we wish it had more rear-seat space and a higher noseweight limit.
- Automatic offers relaxed towing
- Comfortable and quiet long-distance driving
- Huge boot
- Towball electrics difficult to reach
- Limited rear legroom
- Poor dashboard finish