By T Murrali
In a few weeks from now, customers in India will have yet another choice of not only a new SUV but also a new brand, though it has been around elsewhere for over a century. The entry of the brand Citroen, now part of Stellantis, is made through C5 Aircross SUV that the company claims to be developed for Indian customers, with comfort as its key philosophy encapsulating the ideas of practicality and versatility to make driving and travel enjoyable.
According to the company, C5 Aircross SUV is introduced in India after rigorous testing of the vehicle for over 2.5 lakh kilometres in different terrains and varied weather conditions across the country. Globally, the brand is illustrated by its unique comfort signature accomplished by five key objectives of the brand’s advanced comfort, illustrated in the new vehicle. These include flying carpet effect - for cushioning the discomfort from road bumps through the progressive hydraulic cushion equipped suspension system, exclusively developed by the vehicle maker.
Comfortable interiors – for a stress-free travel environment the design cocoons the occupants in comfort with acoustic windscreen & front window glasses, advanced comfort seats with memory foam. It offers panoramic life with brighter and airier cabin and panoramic (only in the top-end variant) sunroof. Intuitive Technologies - to simplify life onboard through its offerings including grip control system with multiple drive surface options, blind-spot monitoring system, park assist feature which enables parking of the car with only the brake and accelerator control while the car steers itself. Besides, the engine stop & start function help conserve fuel. It has a 12.3-inch digital driver display, a 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with phone mirroring function. All these are fuelled by the 2.0-litre diesel engine and 8-speed automatic transmission with shift and park by wire control, giving a comfortable drive.
Well, does the car offer all that the manufacturer has promised? To check this out, we took a spin yesterday on a stretch with has the mix of traffic, a reasonable rough-patch and a highway.
Though a host of technologies offers the occupants’ comfort, the prime amongst them is the progressive hydraulic cushions, which is different from the suspension system in other cars in the same segment or below. These specialised suspension systems are primarily used in high-end cars, and the speciality is that, unlike the conventional suspension system having shock absorbers, springs, and mechanical stops, the system offered by Citroen has two progressive hydraulic cushions – one at the top and the other at the bottom – for rebound and compression. While driving on normal surfaces, the shock absorbers and springs control vertical movement without progressive hydraulic cushions. In potholes and rough patches, the shock absorbers and springs work together with the progressive hydraulic cushions. As they are located at both the ends of the vehicle’s suspension travel, they help cushion slow movement more gradually than a conventional mechanical stop. In the conventional system, the absorbed energy is partially returned, giving discomfort to the vehicle’s occupants. In the case of progressive hydraulic cushions, the absorbed energy is dissipated due to dual hydraulic cushions, eventually delivering ‘magic carpet ride’ for the C5 Aircross. Besides, specific design, structural bonding and seats amply the comfort inside the car.
The first impression that the car gives when onboard is the feeling of comfortable seating for the driver and other occupants. A thick, textured foam flown over the high-density foam, at the surface, makes the seat really comfortable. Three separate seats are provided in the rear with individual tracks to move forward and backwards. In addition to seats, clear outside view for the driver that is accentuated by the cut-glass beyond the C-pillar.
The clean dashboard with the infotainment system gives a nostalgic feeling of a component system or deck with turntable, amplifier and cassette player sandwiched between two towers of speakers boxes. There is enough storage in the car – about 36 litres, in addition to 580L boot space; 720L when the rear seats moved forward and 1,630L with the modular rear seats folded away. The boot can be opened by moving your foot under the rear bumper and close with the touch of a button.
Citroen has gone one step ahead in providing even aircon controls in the touchscreen. Though it may be a good innovation to remove cluster of knobs from the dashboard, it may not give the touch and feel of the knob, which does not need the attention of the driver to divert it to control, while is it not the case in the touch screen.
The DNA of an SUV is to take varied and challenging surfaces in its stride. The Citroën C5 Aircross SUV does precisely that with grip control, which provides secure traction in all conditions, through five modes – standard (ESC), snow, all-terrain (mud, damp grass, etc.), sand and traction control off – that you can select instantly using a dial on the centre console. Besides, it has hill descent assist feature.
The exterior looks are different and pleasing, which makes the vehicle a head-turner. The feminish looks may attract many women customers as they would like to be behind an SUV’s wheels.
Though the company claims that the vehicle is meant for India, it was not evident on several fronts:
Still the new brand - Citroen and its new SUV C5 Aircross can make it in the Indian market provided it is prices aggressively. (MT)
NB: See detailed story in March-April 2021 edition.
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