Shanghai Motor Show 2017: Citroën shows C5 Aircross

21 Apr 2017 Ian Fletcher

Citroën has chosen the Shanghai Motor Show (China) to reveal its new C5 Aircross compact SUV, which will underline the future direction of the brand.

IHS Markit Perspective:

  • Significance: Citroën has chosen the Shanghai Motor Show to reveal its new C5 Aircross compact SUV.
  • Implications: The new model has a number of features that underline the future direction of the brand.
  • Outlook: IHS Markit anticipates that C5 Aircross global sales will peak at 130,750 units during 2020. Peak sales in China of 61,000 units will take place during 2021, and the EU's peak year will be 2019 with registrations of 69,000 units.

Citroën has chosen the Shanghai Motor Show (China) to reveal its new C5 Aircross compact sport utility vehicle (SUV), which will underline the future direction of the brand. The new model has been inspired by the brand's Aircross Concept that was revealed at the same event two years ago. The vehicle, which measures 4.5 m long, 1.84 m wide and 1.67 m tall, is based on the EMP2 architecture that is shared with other Groupe PSA compact models and above. The exterior features a development of the brand's new design language, which was brought in with the C4 Cactus and has been successfully implemented on the B-segment C3. This includes a broad and tall front end with narrow LED light signature, and prominent Citroën branding on the grille. Body protection has also been used as design detail in the lower part of the front bumper, around the wheel arches and beneath the doors, which lean on the "Airbumps" that are a feature on other models. A range of wheel options up to 19 inches are also available.

The interior, which has space for five, also leans heavily on the Aircross Concept. The dashboard has a 12.3-inch digital display instrument cluster in front of the driver as well as an 8-inch touchscreen between air vents, and a tall and wide centre console. The seating is similar to the sofa-inspired interior used in the C4 Cactus, with heating functions and the option of advanced multi-point massage system for the front seats. It also benefits from using a range of materials from woven mesh to Nappa leather. A wheel base of 2.73 m also helps to increase interior space, particularly for rear occupants.

This has gone hand-in-hand with an emphasis on comfort that the brand is now pursuing through its "Citroën Advanced Comfort" programme. As well as seating, Citroën has focused on the suspension system which uses "Progressive Hydraulic Cushions." A conventional suspension system is made up of dampers, springs and mechanical bump-stops, and this system adds two hydraulic stops to each suspension unit - one for rebound and one for compression. This benefits the suspension in two ways:

  • With slight compression and rebound, the springs and dampers control vertical movement together without applying the hydraulic stops, but increases the vehicle's freedom of movement, to create a "magic carpet" effect.
  • In events of greater compression and rebound, the springs and dampers work together with the hydraulic compression or rebound stops, which gradually slow down the movement through the absorption and dissipation of energy to avoid sudden jolts.

There have also been improvements in acoustic insulation thanks to laminated double glazed windows, and greater sound insulation in the engine compartment. There is also an Air Quality System (AQS) integrated into the automatic air conditioning system, which has the ability to capture particles as small as 2.5µm.

Citroën has said that in China this model will feature gasoline (petrol) engines developing between 165-hp and 200-hp, combined with a six speed manual transmission. Later, it will also gain a plug-in hybrid powertrain combining a 200-hp gasoline engine with two electric motors to achieve a total output of 300-hp. It will not only have the capability of travelling in electric only mode for 60km but also have four-wheel drive capability depending on the driving mode.

Connectivity technologies will also be included on the C5 Aircross such as Citroën Connect Nav which uses the touchscreen for navigation, telephony and media functions, supported by Mirror Screen to access smartphone applications. The vehicle will also gain a range of advanced driver safety systems as part of the building blocks of autonomous driving systems. This includes Speed Sign Recognition and Recommendation; Active Safety Brake; Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop Function and Vision 360 which provides an aerial view of the area around the vehicle using 180° cameras at the rear and front of the vehicle.

Citroën has said that the C5 Aircross is scheduled to launch in China in the second half of 2017 before going on sale in Europe during 2018.

Outlook and implications

The announcement of the C5 Aircross comes a year after the announcement of PSA's "Push to Pass" strategy. This included its intentions and expectations for the future of the Citroën brand, of which this model seems to be the realisation. Indeed, the automaker said in the statement related to this vehicle that this will be "a 'people-minded' SUV" which follows up its plans to be a "people-minded" brand with a focus on comfort as it intends to differentiate itself from the other PSA brands. However, its aim to grow the brand - a 30% increase in sales volume by 2021 - will only be achieved if it can offer vehicles in growth categories. As with the other PSA brands, Citroën will focus more heavily on the crossover and SUV space than the Mitsubishi Motors technology that it has leveraged in the past. Certainly, the decision to launch this model in China first is intended to support the group's hoped-for turnaround in a market place where its sales have fallen by around 16% year on year (y/y) in 2016, despite the market for passenger vehicles gaining by around 15.0% y/y. The situation in Europe is less desperate as the wider group's modest growth continues and it continues to bring new models to market, notably the crossover Peugeot 3008 and soon the 5008. Before the end of the year, Citroën will release the C3 Aircross in to the sub-compact crossover space, a particularly fast-growing category here at the moment, before introducing the C5 Aircross. IHS Markit anticipates that C5 Aircross global sales will peak at 130,750 units during 2020; the peak sales year in China of 61,000 units will be 2021, and in the European Union (EU) its peak year will be 2019 with registrations of 69,000 units.

About this article

The above article is from IHS Automotive Same-Day Analysis of automotive news, events and trends, and is a deliverable of the World Markets Automotive Service. The service averages thirty stories per day and also provides competitor and country intelligence. Get a free trial.


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