Floating on air

If you need to relax, stretch out and unwind people will generally head for the couch.

Not everyone though - those who own the new Citroen Aircross SUV can also head to the garage.

Citroen has long been known for its comfort innovations – remember the Hydropneumatic suspension of the 1950’s – compressed gas technology that is now widely used in shock absorbers.

We remember them now as those funky cars that sank low at the back when the car was at rest, and then lift up ready to take on the road when the engine fires up. But they were game changers.

The new C5 Aircross and other members of the Citroen family haven’t gone back to those uplifting models. Instead it takes things to a whole new level with progressive hydraulic cushioning. Basically it provides extra cushions at the top and bottom of the shock absorbers, levelling out the impact and rebound of big bumps.

In pursuit of the world’s most comfortable ride, Citroen has also added an extra 15mm of foam to the seats, which work in a similar way to memory foam. The seats mould to the person sitting in them, then, when they disembark, the foam expands back to normal, ready for the next person.

Those two things, combined with some technical stuff related to the way the main structural elements of the car are bonded, creates an immensely comfortable ride.

So comfortable in fact, that the handling on rough, tight roads – (for the purposes of this review I took it up through Oropi Gorge Rd), feels quite unfamiliar – almost too soft.

That is largely an illusion that takes a bit of getting used to. The main part of the shocks are still doing the job, as per usual. It is just the harsh bumps and the rebounding energy that is dampened down when you come out of tight turns and dips.

Your initial feel is that it is a very soft ride. And it is soft, just without the big body roll that your brain tells you is coming. There are 20 global patents on this technology, so Citroen and its partners may have this sewn up for a while.

While comfort is a big factor in making Citroen stand out at the moment, there are quite a few other things to like about this car.

It has a Euro 6.2 efficiency rating that puts it 15 years ahead of the Government’s CO2 vehicle emission goals. But don’t be fooled, this vehicle delivers fantastic power through its 1.6 litre turbo petrol engine. Too many SUV’s labour up to speed and lack grunt but not this one.

Amazingly, 1.6 litres is the maximum engine size of any vehicle in the Citroen range.

And the fun doesn’t end there – like its sister brand Peugeot, there are some really advanced smart driving features.

The park assist is impressive, the active lane assist is impressive and the active cruise control also. These are not the minimal versions of this technology. They are well designed and reliable features that provide genuine benefits to the driver.

All of these things can, of course, be turned off but even the most assured drivers will benefit from learning one or two new gadgets each week.

There are some really thoughtful extras as well – like the window wind-up function on the key remote – just hold your finger down on the door lock button and the windows go up too.

The infotainment system is also shared with Peugeot and, once again is built for comfort and safety. Pretty much everything is voice activated as well. It doesn’t get much safer than that.

I took this car up through Bethlehem, then left through to Tauriko and on up Pyes Pa Rd, through Oropi Gorge and back down into town.

This is a quiet achiever – very quiet. Noise reduction is all part of the efforts to make Citroen synonymous with comfort.

That means you can fully enjoy Apple Car Play or Android Auto, without road noise corrupting your favourite music.

There are too many features to list in this review but safety is front and centre with an ENCAP 5-star rating, six airbags, automatic emergency braking up to 140km/h, front collision warning and 18- degree rear reversing camera.

You will be automatically advised of the speed limit on the dash, and it has a function that automatically adjusts high and low beam depending on approaching traffic. There is a hill start assist function and advanced grip control for those tricky, steep hill descents.

Other extras include 3D satellite navigation, hands-free electric tailgate, wireless phone charging, Bluetooth connectivity and keyless entry.

The driver’s seat has electric adjustment for height and tilt.

So for the most epic of relaxing Sunday drives, take your Citroen, and a good book, head to your favourite spot, lie back and chill out. For an extra $2500 you can get a panoramic sliding sunroof so you can watch the clouds go by as you nod off, dreaming of easy turns and bumps that disappear.

Spec’s

Model: Citroen C5 Aircross SUV, Shine

Engine: PureTech 1.6l, Turbo petrol

Transmission: EAT 8 speed automatic

Power: 180hp (133kw)

Torque: 250Nm@1650rpm


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