Peugeot, the French manufacturer has decided to re-enter the Indian market after more than a decade of its exit. This time, with a new brand – Citroen. Before the new French manufacturer enters the mass-segment, which currently has a cut-throat competition, they have decided to launch its flagship product in the Indian market. The C5 Aircross – the first vehicle to be showcased at the Citroen dealerships across India and its first vehicle to be sold in India will launch by the end of March this year. Before that, we did spend some time with the SUV, which Citroen likes to call – “The Comfort Class”. Is the C5 Aircross good enough to pave the way for the brand’s next mass-segment cars? We answer that to you.
The French are known for their artistry and since the Citroen has truly French roots, it sure looks like something that an artist has designed. It is not an aggressive-looking car or even a muscular one, it has a character that is unique to the C5. Its simply stands out in the crowd. During the few hours that we spent with it, we did see a few camera lenses looking at us (actually the car) and it happened quite a few times.
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The C5 is designed for the people who want a chic, modern-looking vehicle. Yes, it is a busy design but it is eye-catchy. The front gets a split headlamp set-up. The Citroen logo extends to become the grille and that grille encloses the dual-purpose DRLs that also work as indicators. The main headlamp cluster remains enclosed in the extended part of the lower grille. What really stands out in the design is the rectangular elements that you will find at the front and side of the vehicle. At the rear, there are faux exhaust tips that are rectangular too. Overall, we liked the design quite much.
The C5 Aircross will be available only with a single diesel engine option. Now that may not be great news for the people staying in Delhi-NCR but it sure is one of the best diesel engines out there in the segment. It is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder unit that generates a maximum power of 177 PS and peak torque of 400 Nm. The sole engine option will be available with the only transmission option – an 8-speed automatic unit with flappy pedals.
The engine delivers the power and torque in a very linear way, which is why you do not feel the impressive initially. However, put the pedal to the throttle and you will definitely feel the 400 Nm, especially in the middle range. Since the 8th gear engages at about 70 km/h, you get a relaxed engine during the highway drives and that translates into a great fuel efficiency too. Citroen C5 Aircross is certified to return more than 18 km/l but we could not verify it during our drive as we were busy pushing the car around.
Talking about that, you can put the transmission into the manual mode by pushing a button and then gain control over it through the paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel. The shifters have a plastic feel to it and do not match with the overall quality of the car but it does the job well. Gear shifts are quick and you tend to push the Aircross around on empty stretches of the roads.
Handling and comfort
Now both handling and comfort depend massively on the suspension set-up and Citroen has done a great job on that. The C5 Aircrossb offers Progressive Hydraulic suspension set-up. There is hydraulics inside the suspension that work in tandem to offer you a ride quality from a car with a softer suspension set-up. It just gulps the bumps with ease and ensures that the occupants do not move around much. The suspension set-up is something that we feel that everyone will love in this vehicle. In the bigger potholes, there is hydraulics stopper at the end, which adds a cushion feel whenever the car enters a big ditch or a high-speed breaker, both of which are quite common in India.
The suspension set-up even allows driving it around at high-speed and not slowing down at corners. There is a minimalistic body roll on the corners and you can get the sporty bit out of the vehicle whenever you want.
It gets multiple drive modes too. While we did not take the vehicle to any specific off-roading circuit, we did take it off the road and it maintained the level of comfort and also tackled the terrain without scrapping its underbody.
The cabin feels plush and quite luxurious. The seat is made out of two types of foam to give you maximum comfort. Also, the front window glasses are laminated to ensure that minimal noise enters the cabin. Add the double engine firewall and insulation and you get one of the quietest cabins in the segment. It just feels a different world inside the vehicle, especially on the loud Indian roads where honking never stops. The cabin is comfortable and it feels very European, especially with the carefully chosen chimes that you hear as warning sounds and other alerts.
The infotainment screen is not the biggest in the segment but it offers the regular connectivity options. The screen looks sharp but there are tactile buttons that form the shortcut to climate control, navigation, music, phone and more. It just adds an extra step to access any of the function and for that, the driver will need to remove the eyes from the road. Add to that, the left-hand-drive set-up of the cabin. The stalks on the steering are opposite and the great looking gear selector, the electronic parking brake is on the co-driver side. Even the lever to open the engine bay is located on the co-driver side and it can be accessed only after opening the door. Good luck when the security asks you to open the engine bay for inspection and you are alone in the car.
There is some serious amount of space inside the car. The boot itself is more than 700 litres in capacity and if you want more space, you can individually slide and fold the rear seats to create some more. It is an interesting design but eliminates the space for an armrest in the rear seats. Something that you may find annoying, especially on the long drives with two passengers in the rear seats.
There is space on all the doors to keep big water bottles or any other small items. Also, there is a deep bucket under the front armrest. You open it to reveal a deep storage room and there is light too. Now talking about the space, there is not any in the glove box. There is a massive fuse box inside the glove box that eats up all the space.
A great overall package
The C5 Aircross will not be a high-volume product in the Indian market. It will instead create a platform for the upcoming mass-segment cars from the brand. The C5 Aircross is a great package overall. Citroen will offer it in two variants and both of them are quite loaded with features. We are not sure about the prices but if Citroen wants to get noticed, it will have to put some eye-catchy price on the car. The Indian market remains a price-sensitive market afterall. The price will be announced by the end of March and we expect it to be less than Rs 30 lakh for the entry-level variant. If so, Citroen will definitely find a lot of buyers in the Indian market who will want to look different from the Hyundai Tucson and the Tiguan 5-seater owners on the Indian roads. What’s your guess? Do let us know in the comment section.
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