WHEN you consider the cost of car ownership in Singapore, the more mass market brands are in a dogfight around pricing, features and functionality.
Some European marques — BMW, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Audi, amongo thers — have pushed the bar up with their upmarket models, while cheaper Japanese and Korean brands have come in with more economical but well-endowed models.
Then there are the mid-tier European brands trying to find some purchase on a slippery slope. Where a simple model would have sufficed in their major European markets, the international market expects more.
To a lesser extent the European charge that has defined the new era of car design is carried along by brands that may have preferred a business model built around competitive pricing rather than bells and whistles. But when cars are upwards of $120K in Singapore, you can’t afford to skimp and get away with a less-is-more argument.
Everyone expects more, and so, most brands are trying to fight for that small and controlled market share in Singapore.
When you get past the German marques, the French brands carry a lineage that carries some weight and global recognition.
Citroen is known for its earlier models with the comfortable but temperamental pneumatic suspension. It slipped in with the C5 Aircross in 2017, a fairly staid offering which was barely tweaked in a subsequent facelift. The latest version of this small SUV presents a more captivating proposition. At $153K* it’s up against a battery of competing SUVs, but may have an edge in some of its subtle differentiating factors like its comfortable ride and design sensibilities.
The exterior has aesthetic touches enhanced by chrome highlights with the brand chevrons incorporated into the design language. The more wedge-like profile presents a less bulky appearance, with roof rails and rims to give it a sporty look, even if it doesn’t promise this. The chrome C shape that rounds of the rear windows on the side help to slim the overall look.
Protective airbumps, thought not immediately noticeable in certain paintwork colours, are there for continuity across models and ranges, though I’m not sure what functional purpose they serve at the base of the doors.
Airy And Comfortable Within
The interior has been streamlined with design elements that keep this smooth. Everything is controlled by buttons or small levers, designed to preserve the sleek lines.
An 8” touchscreen in the test drive unit (to be upgraded to 10” screens in future shipments) is the nerve centre of the cockpit. It’s a bit of a nervy experience trying to get it to behave (best not to attempt this while on the move). A baffling range of menus will require some getting used to.
Eventually they get the job done, connecting your smart device and helping you set up the car as you’d like.
The 1.2-litre engine delivers 97kW of power, which is converted into a sprightly drive. With maximum torque of 230Nm kicking in under 2,000rpm, you get a nice, guttural growl from the engine, especially in sport mode. Engaging the paddle shift through the 8-speed transmission, lets you feel more involved.
Not that the C5 Aircross moves with undue speed; it does the 0-100kmh sprint in a modest 10.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 188kmh. With a fuel consumption of under 5L per 100km, you should get fairly decent mileage.
While this is not a flashy car, it’s meant to be a comfortable people carrier.
So, the seats are designed as such and it’s quite accommodating over bumps. The Citroen Advanced Comfort suspension adds hydraulic cushions to manage with compression and rebound. The end result is a relatively smooth ride.
A generous boot allows you to carry gear on longer trips with enough seat configuration options to create space from 580L to 1,630L.
As a people mover, the C5 Aircross comes in well-equipped, with expected and additional features to help it nose ahead of the competition.