Citroen, the French carmaker entered the Indian market officially earlier this year with its maiden product – the C5 AirCross. After only spending a few hours with the C5 AirCross, it put a lasting impression and that is why I wanted to explore the C5 AirCross more, especially on a long-distance journey. An impromptu decision to take the C5 AirCross to the lower Himalayas did turn out to be a good decision. Here is our journey with the Citroen C5 AirCross.
The late-night highway run
Over the years, I have developed a habit of driving at night to the Himalayas. The roads are less crowded and you do not have to engage with the commuters and public transportation too. Since the main border of Delhi-Chandigarh is blocked for over a year now, we got on the superfast Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) to bypass the Singhu Border.
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EPE is a 6-lane wide expressway that has one of the highest speed limits in India. You can legally do 120 km/h on it and we did not miss the opportunity. Immediately, we understood the potential of the 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine that generates a maximum power of 174 Bhp and peak torque of 400 Nm. With the 8-speed automatic transmission, is easy to reach the triple-digit speeds and hold it there for a long time.
The cruise control system gave the necessary push whenever required to hold the speed of 120 km/h for a good amount of distance. The C5 remains glued to the road and even with the concrete roadworks, not much of a noise filtered into the cabin. The Citroen C5 AirCross is quiet except for the times when the engine revs reach the higher side of the tachometer.
With the cruise control and eight-speed transmission, the engine remained comfortable below 2,000 rpm. Also, the headlamps are good enough to illuminate the road ahead. The illumination was good enough to keep cruising at 120 km/h for a long time.
Really as comfortable as advertised?
The run ended after about 50 km and we got down on the NH1 that is marred with roadworks. The stretch allowed us perfectly to test Citroen’s claim. Well, the French manufacturer uses unique dampers, a technology that was originally designed to keep the Citroen rally cars on the ground at high speeds.
The suspension system is the best set-up that I have come across in any car under Rs 50 lakh in India. The suspension absorbs anything and everything that comes under it. A big pothole? No problem. A massive hump? The suspension will iron that.
Over a long distance from Rai to Zirakpur, unexpected potholes and roadworks gave us ample opportunities to test the suspension. With the massive sofa-like comfortable seats, we can definitely say that the car is as comfortable as advertised. It just works like a charm.
At the end of the plains in Zirakpur, the indicated fuel efficiency displayed as 17 km/litre, which is quite good for a car this powerful. Even though it remained in the 7th or 8th gear most of the highway run, a tap on the paddle shifter dropped the gear pretty fast, if you have an overtake to make.
After a long spell of rain in the Himalayas, most roads are either broken or are getting repaired. The Citroen C5 AirCross does not have any problem with the bad roads as mentioned earlier. It also has ample power to climb up.
Since the Citroen was so good to drive, we decided to take a detour to reach our destination – Naldehra. Instead of taking the regular route the goes through a lot of crowded cities, we went via Chail – Kufri. The jungle route was extremely scenic, even though fresh landslides did give us a few scary moments. The cornering lamps helped us by showing the way. Also, the fog lamps are halogen, which is much better compared to the full LED set-up during rain and fog.
The C5 AirCross though takes the corners at high speeds. The Michelin tyres do squeal at the corners but without losing any grip. We also took a steep climb to reach a local temple. Full of gravel and slush, the C5 AirCross climbed with ease on the stretch to reach the top of the hill.
The AirCross drives well on the climbs but it is very wide and that does not help, especially if you’re crossing the congested areas. Yes, the 360-degree cameras are helpful but still, the AirCross is a little too wide. In fact, it is wider than the Toyota Fortuner.
On the climbs, the gearshifts can become confusing at times. Especially, if you’re in Eco mode. The transmission keeps on shifting between the first and second, throwing you off the momentum. The manual mode works perfectly in this situation.
There are ample features available with the car. The massive panoramic sunroof, a flat-bottom steering wheel with multiple function buttons, electrically adjustable driver seat, fully digital instrument cluster and the touchscreen infotainment system and climate control give a pretty modern look to the dashboard. It also gets the hill descent control feature that comes in quite handy while coming down steep slopes.
There are a few things missing though. The C5 AirCross does not offer a wireless phone charger and even the connectivity options like the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto use wires. Other than that, the touchscreen climate control system is something that is not necessary and simply makes it difficult to operate while driving.
Everything else, including the two-zone climate control system, is something that you will use on your long drives. Citroen also provides ample space inside the vehicle to keep knick-knacks and also there is a massive boot to hold the weekend luggage but there is no armrest for the rear seat passengers. Citroen only offers three similar-sized seats without any folding armrest.
A good choice?
The French looks just attract a lot of eyes and we did get a lot of queries asking about the performance and other aspects. Many of these onlookers did not even know the name of the brand, its origin and its product line-up in India. Well, the Citroen C5 AirCross is a great choice, if you do not want to be a part of the crowd that chooses the bulky Toyota Fortuner to commute and for a weekend road trip without leaving the tarmac.
The Citroen C5 AirCross will definitely get you more eyes on the roads, is much more comfortable, and definitely more fuel-efficient. While the price of above Rs 30 lakh forces the customers to compare it with the Toyota Fortuner and maybe even choose the Japanese, the C5 AirCross seems to be building a strong base for the brand’s upcoming cars. Citroen is the second mass segment brand operating under the Stellantis Group umbrella after the Jeep brand and there are a few exciting products lined up for the Indian market.
While the C5 AirCross is not setting the sales charts on fire, it definitely is attracting a lot of eyes and creating a product awareness that will go a long way, especially when the brand launches the C3 AirCross to take on the likes of Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Nissan Magnite and the likes in the Indian market next year.
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