New Citroen C5 Aircross PureTech 130 2020 review

Cheaper PureTech 130 engine replaces 180 unit in the Citroen C5 Aircross range, but at what cost?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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By adding this more affordable, more economical engine and gearbox combination to the range in place of the old PureTech 180, Citroen has boosted the appeal of the C5 Aircross. The engine is punchy and economical, and while the gearbox isn’t the fastest, it is smooth. It’s a shame some of the car’s other inherent foibles hold it back, but it’s a good, solid family SUV nonetheless.

The arrival of a plug-in hybrid Citroen C5 Aircross was big news back in February this year. But at the same time as that car went on sale, the French firm took the chance to rationalise its mid-size SUV line-up; it dropped the PureTech 180 EAT8 eight-speed automatic option and replaced it with this more frugal and more affordable PureTech 130 EAT8 powertrain.

So what’s it like? Well, the 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol PureTech 130 engine is a known quantity, and while 128bhp might not sound like a lot, with a solid and easily exploitable 230Nm of torque from as little as 1,750rpm, it pulls the C5 along with more than enough relaxation.

The eight-speed automatic gearbox is a big contributor towards that, too, because no matter how hard you drive, it doesn’t like to be rushed. Instead, it’s better to leave the transmission to its own devices to work at the speed it wants to, when the Aircross feels more comfortable. This way you’ll be able to make the most of the new powertrain’s claimed efficiency of up to 45.2mpg as well.

The same is true of the handling. Drive too quickly and there’s noticeable body roll, and the light steering means it’s sometimes easy to turn just a little too aggressively if you’re travelling more quickly.

Stick to more sensible speeds and the softer set-up means the car offers compliance and comfort; it’s only over grids and road repairs where the C5 Aircross’s chassis loses the ability to cope, and the wheels rebound sharply. But this is mostly a relaxed machine where the comfort goes hand-in-hand with the cabin.

The design is fairly funky but it’s still functional, with plenty of storage, and in Flair Plus trim the material quality feels good enough, plus there’s a great level of standard kit. This is a family SUV, so it’s good to see the top trim level comes fitted with the Safety Plus Pack, including advanced AEB, and collision warning.

There’s also a powered tailgate for extra practicality, plus adaptive cruise with stop-and-go tech and Highway Driver Assist (semi-autonomous lane-keep assist to me and you) on this EAT8 auto.

With individually sliding rear seats, there’s a good degree of flexibility. Push them all towards the rear, and legroom is great, while there’s 580 litres of boot space – a significant amount that dwarfs rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai. Slide them all forward and, while legroom is reduced, there’s a massive 720 litres on offer.

The C5 Aircross’ weaknesses are still present, though. So along with the question marks over the ride, we’re still not sold on the infotainment. The eight-inch touchscreen is bright and has lots of features, such as nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as standard, but the graphics are a little fuzzy and the screen is slow to respond. The same is true of the 12.3-inch digital dash, which we think could offer more customisation.

Model:Citroen C5 Aircross PureTech 130 Flair Plus
Engine:1.2-litre 3cyl turbo petrol
Transmission:Eight-speed automatic, front-wheel drive 
0-62mph:10.3 seconds
Top speed:122mph
On saleNow 

Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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