The recipe is PHEV-familiar, in that there’s a 1.6-litre, 180bhp four-cylinder petrol engine up front driving through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, between which is sandwiched an 80kW electric motor. There’s a 13.2kWh battery that supplies it somewhere under the rear seats and boot floor, giving variously middle-of-the-range acceptable figures: around 34-miles on electric-only range, 225bhp of possible power, a theoretical 166mpg and a C02 figure of around 32/33g/km depending on the spec of the car you choose.
These figures are good for your tax bill, but less useful for getting a real-world idea of your likely fuel use. But that’s just plug-in hybrid figures for you - the C5 Aircross actually manages a good portion of the claimed e-only running, and does so with some grace - here at electrifying.com, we got nearly 30-miles of the claimed range for each charge. That’s good. Plug it in regularly as we did, and you’re looking at well over 100mpg over mixed roads and journeys.
One of the main reasons the Aircross is so appealing is that Citroen is very keen on what it calls the ‘Citroen Advanced Comfort Programme’. Basically, the Aircross is biased towards comfort rather than any kind of real ‘sportiness’ - which is a bit of relief, if we’re being honest. No one really needs a ‘sporty’ SUV/MPV. To that end, it gets special dampers called ‘Progressive Hydraulic Cushions’ that offer a particularly pillowy ride quality, and yet stop the car from heaving over like a ship when you go around a roundabout; the technology was originally invented for Citroen’s rally cars, but here it’s deployed to smooth things out rather than control at extreme speed. There are also special ergonomic seats with buttock-cossetting foam of varying densities, a tonne of electronic helpers (there are 19 driver-assistance systems available), and lots of neat little touches that make life easier.
It works, too. The C5 Aircross is composed at most speeds, and comfy at all of them. No, it’s not going to give you the same amusingly-smooth ride as the old hydraulically-sprung classic Citroens and it’s not quite the orthopaedic delight that Citroen makes out, but it’s a really very relaxing car to drive - especially in electric-only mode, where it’s serene and sane.
Wake up the engine and it’s smooth enough, nicely quiet and usefully faster - all very much in-keeping with the general feel of the whole car. As with most of these systems, there are three modes to choose from (electric, hybrid and sport) which vary the deployment of the power available in the battery: electric being battery only, hybrid switching between the two depending on what the car thinks is appropriate and sport having both permanently working in concert for maximum power and response. Sport makes the car faster but less efficient, obviously - so you’ll likely just leave it in hybrid mode where it seems happiest - although the electric-only mode is useful when leaving home early or sneaking back in late, and you can hold the charge in the battery if you know you’ll be ending your journey requiring a dose of pure electric running.
As far as the rest goes, there’s a tonne of in-cabin storage, including a central arm-rest bin that you could just about stuff a small child into, if you were so inclined, and even though the boot is smaller than the traditionally-engined cars - it drops from 780-litres to 600 thanks to the battery placement - there are three individually sliding and reclining rear seats to make up for it, with a pair of ISOFIX points on the outer two. Small things, but they all count.
The other lovely thing is actually the cabin. The seat textures are genuinely interesting (as are some of the colours - take a look at ‘Hype Brown’ if you get a chance), and the big digital dash (with a 12.3-inch screen) and general layout is both good-looking and fun. It's comfortable, useful and easy to get to know. In terms of other practicalities, that relatively modest battery will charge from zero to full in a couple of hours on a 32amp home charger - and you’ll be doing most of your charging at home or at work. There’s an eight-year battery warranty (or 100k miles), and the PHEV attracts the 10% benefit-in-kind tax rate, meaning that a top-rate taxpayer could save up to £270 a month versus the top-of-the-range petrol version of the same car, according to Citroen.
It's worth noting that the C5 Aircross is essentially the same car underneath as the various offerings from Peugeot (3008), Vauxhall (the strangely-named Grandland X) and DS (CrossBack) because it’s a shared platform of industrial Lego called ‘EMP2’, so it’s worth checking out the offers on those cars here on electrifying.com if you’re in the market for this size/shape of vehicle. Other than that, the C5 Aircross definitely should be on the shortlist - it does a lot of things well.