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New Citroen C5 Aircross PHEV 2022 review

The updated Citroen C5 Aircross PHEV is a good all-rounder, but fails to excel in any one area

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

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Verdict

The Citroen C5 Aircross PHEV is a solid enough package, but its average BiK rating will probably be a dealbreaker for many user-choosers. Indeed, with Citroen sources saying that a version with more than 40 miles of EV running - and the resulting lower tax hit - could well be with us by the end of the year, it’s hard to make too strong a case for a vehicle that, updates notwithstanding, feels like a bit of a stopgap.

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Citroen has been making decent gains with its smaller electrified offering, the e-C4 hatchback. But the company’s plug-in hybrid SUV, the C5 Aircross, is still an important model that aims to bridge the gap between combustion and fully-electric power. And now, nearly four years after its launch, it’s just been treated to a mid-life facelift.

It’s a reasonably extensive one, on the surface, with new plastic panels - think front grille and both bumpers - along with new headlights. This is standard mid-life fare but in the case of the C5 Aircross, it does give the car a sharper look - one that’s much more in tune with that of the company’s new flagship, the C5 X.

Inside, there’s been a bigger transformation - one that has extended to a change of dashboard, in fact. As well as some plusher materials in key areas, the C5 Aircross gets a new 10-inch infotainment screen, although it’s worth pointing out that while its hardware matches that of the C5 X, under the skin it’s running the more dated software from the C4. It’s a shame, as a result, that the dashboard redesign couldn’t have incorporated physical temperature and ventilation controls; you still have to press an on-screen button to access them.

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The PHEV sits at the top of the C5 Aircross range, but for now at least, the mechanical make-up hasn’t changed from the original car’s. So you still get a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, coupled with an 80kW electric motor for a combined 222bhp and 360Nm of torque - respectable figures for a car of this size.

The battery capacity is 13.2kWh - enough, Citroen says, for up to 38 miles of electric-only running, and home-wallbox recharge times of around two hours. That range is a significant figure, though, because it places this car in the 12 per cent band for company-car benefit-in-kind tax - the same as, say, the Hyundai Tucson, but four per cent higher than the latest plug-in Kia Sportage

On the road there’s enough power from the electric motor to take you to the national speed limit on electricity alone, and while the eight-speed automatic gearbox isn’t entirely foolproof, it generally does a good enough job of flicking between electric and petrol power. The engine itself is smooth to spin up, so if you take a relaxed approach then there should be enough performance here for refined, swift progress.

The chassis will thank you for this attitude too, because as with all Citroens these days, it’s resolutely focused on comfort. It features Citroen’s Progressive Hydraulic Cushions - a brand name for fancy bump-stops - and a more complex multi-link set-up than petrol and diesel powered versions of the car. The set-up does a particularly good job around town of massaging out the worst road imperfections. Higher-frequency, sharper scars remain a weak spot, though, pushing the C5 Aircross beyond its capabilities to allow thunks through to the cabin. Body control remains tight enough, though, so on smoother, flowing roads the C5 Aircross PHEV feels comfortable and composed.

The cabin has decent space for four adults, and while you do take a hit in boot space to accommodate the PHEV tech, the capacity is still a useful 460 litres - with space beneath the floor for your charging cables. The PHEV is restricted to the upper two trim levels, so you can forget about the entry point, Sense Plus, and focus on either Shine or the C-Series Edition. We’d look towards the first of these, as it includes plenty of appealing kit - 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, the 10-inch infotainment screen, Alcantara seat trim and adaptive cruise control.

Model: Citroen C5 Aircross Shine Plug-in Hybrid
Price: £35,080
Engine: 1.6-litre, 4cyl turbo petrol hybrid
Power/torque: 222bhp/380Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
0-62mph: 8.7 seconds
Top speed: 140mph
Economy: 188-202mpg
CO2 emissions: 31-33g/km
On sale:Now
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Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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