Citroën took longer than most of its European-market rivals to jump into the popular family SUV market and came via a wandering, indirect route considering its various experiments with platform-shared Mitsubishi models and the like. The company's first fully committed attempt at a mid-sized offering, the Citroën C5 Aircross, finally arrived in the UK in 2018 - and it has barely stood still since.
Coming to market initially with a choice of three- and four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, it started life with more powerful pure-combustion options, only to quickly move beyond them. We tested an early car with 2.0-litre BlueHDI 180 diesel power but, as customer preferences changes, that engine was withdrawn in 2020 along with Citroën's conventional 177bhp 1.6-litre petrol.
Along in their place to complement the C5 Aircross's smaller engines came a 1.6-litre plug-in hybrid the same year. And now in 2023, Citroën is rolling out another electrified version of the car powered by a modified version of its 1.2-litre Puretech petrol engine that's teamed with a new six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and a 48V hybrid assistance system.
Plainly, and not only in respect of the engines that power it, this Citroën is a car that plays a little fast and loose with SUV convention. As we'll go on to explore, it's a car with proper five-seat, adult-appropriate practicality that converts well as a voluminous cargo tender when required, but it does not offer widely articulating independent suspension, nor four-wheel drive - and neither has it ever.
Read on, then, to find out what this peculiarly modern family car brings to the mid-sized SUV class, and exactly what kind of dynamic tribute it pays, if any, to the classic big Citroëns of old.