2022 Citroen C5 Aircross Review: Walking in the air

Lionel Kong
Singapore Citroen C5 aircross

Citroen’s crossover SUV gets an oxymoronic upgrade with a smaller engine

SINGAPORE – French brand Citroen has been quiet for the last two years in Singapore, but it’s roaring back in with the launch of two new models nearly back-to-back in the first half of 2022. The C5 Aircross here is the first of the new releases, though isn’t exactly a new car, but a new variant of the original C5 Aircross that first appeared in 2019.

Singapore Citroen C5 aircross

As driving experiences go however, it’s a big mechanical change because it includes a new engine. The old 180 horsepower, 1.6-litre turbo engine has been removed to make way for a 1.2-litre turbo three-cylinder, dropping the car into the Category A COE bracket despite the fact that as far as size goes, this definitely isn’t a small car. Along with its clean emissions VES A2 rating which nets it a S$15,000 rebate already factored into the retail price, the C5 Aircross is actually a lot of car for the money. But in the face of stiff competition, can it stand as a viable choice as a family car?

Singapore Citroen C5 aircross

The exterior is actually largely identical to the launch edition from 2019, because it’s actually just a new engine in the same body. The car is understated in that there isn’t even a badge on the rear that tells you what engine is under the bonnet. The local sales and marketing campaign is keen to push the SUV angle of the C5 Aircross, because you know, #nowtrending, but the fact is the car is really an urban crossover family car with no offroading pretensions. 

Singapore Citroen C5 aircross

Very astute readers and car enthusiasts would have also cottoned on to the fact that there are parts inside the cabin that are shared with the Peugeot 3008. The gear lever is the most obvious bit, and the two cars are indeed built on the same platform linked by parent company Stellantis.

Singapore Citroen C5 aircross

Actually, they even share the same engine. The little turbo three-cylinder has a capacity of just 1.2 litres, which divides up into 400cc per cylinder. That’s essentially a ‘normal’ 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engine minus one of the cylinders. A turbocharger makes up for the missing engine displacement, which is actually a great idea because it delivers plenty of boost when you need to get going then allows the engine to work efficiently at highway cruising speeds, burning petrol in just three cylinders instead of four.

Singapore Citroen C5 aircross

Most three-cylinder engines are very vibey, lively powerplants that really make themselves felt at any speed, but the Stellantis PureTech 1.2-litre engine exhibits none of the shaky vibes of a typical three-cylinder engine, and that’s not only in the C5 Aircross. The same engine is also found in the larger Peugoet 5008, where it is also a smooth operator. The point is that it’s so refined that most drivers will never ever realise that the car is powered by just a 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine, unlike in something like a BMW 116i where the three-cylinder’s vibes give the car a unique character. 

Singapore Citroen C5 aircross

There’s no electric hybrid assistance of any sort in the C5 Aircross, but with an eight-speed automatic gearbox driving the front wheels it’s still a reasonably efficient car. It’s appreciably faster and more lively than the popular Honda HR-V too, and doesn’t cost very much more.  

The C5 Aircross’ real selling point is that it’s a very large continental car for reasonable money, at least as reasonable as possible in these days of soaring COE prices.

Singapore Citroen C5 aircross

It’s a spacious five-seater with three individually adjustable seats in the second row. Line them up as normal, or you can slide them up to 150mm individually to vary the legroom and boot space ratio as needed. Pushing the seats to maximum forward position will have the passengers in economy class with just about enough legroom for 1.65-metre tall adults, and a total boot space of 670 litres.

Singapore Citroen C5 aircross

Or you could kick all the passengers out and fold all the seats flat for a total carrying capacity of 1,630 litres. The boot floor has a space underneath it for extra stowage, or you could simply lower the boot floorboard for extra height in the boot. 

Singapore Citroen C5 aircross

It’s not an automated process, so there’s the usual tugging and pulling, along with lifting off the large parcel shelf, to reconfigure the car’s carrying capacity. 

Singapore Citroen C5 aircross

From the driver’s seat, the car feels like it isn’t as feature-packed as some of the competition but this is also an effect of the very tidy centre console. Unlike the main ‘row-of-buttons’ interface in the Peugeots, Citroen uses a touch panel and a secondary of buttons on a lower tier to operate most of the features in the car. Many of the secondary controls are within the touchscreen interface, which is quite standard these days along with mobile phone connectivity. 

Singapore Citroen C5 aircross

The seats are supportive and exude quality but the door panels and dashboard have more hard, scratchy plastics than one would expect from a car in this category.

Singapore Citroen C5 aircross

To Page 2: Driving Experience and Competitors

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c5 Citroen citroen C5 aircross crossover SUV

About the Author

Lionel Kong

An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.

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Citroen C5 Aircross

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