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Citroen C5 Aircross
1199cc, 3cyl turbo petrol, FWD, 129bhp, 170lb ft
Claimed MPG:
44.6mpg WLTP, 121g/km CO2
0–62mph in 10.5secs, 117mph
£28,330/£29,400 as tested

Why do we have cars? We like them, obviously. But also the freedom. Two examples this month.

One, a family weekend in Chester. My wife argued, persuasively, that it’s easier, greener and faster to take the train. We got ourselves to London Euston only to find the whole northward mainline blocked. So I jumped on a hire cycle, rode home (not far), picked up the car and swung back past the station, then on to Chester. Easy.

The Aircross might ride softly but it doesn’t make our kid any more nauseous than other cars do, even though she’s sat in the back, eyes pinned to a screen. That’s despite the fact on motorways it gently oscillates as if airborne in a breeze.

Second example, a walking weekend in the Welsh borders, staying down narrow lanes miles from any public transport. Travelling alone and with the job I’m in, I could have disdained a family crossover and borrowed a two-seater for that trip.

But actually in Shropshire’s narrow lanes, the Aircross works well, as it does when I go to my native Cornwall. Sports-car speeds are out of the question if you want to avoid butchering a sheep or flattening a peleton.

The Aircross lopes over the bumps, steers more precisely than you’d imagine in tight bends, and its manual gearbox gives me something to do. Its tall seat gives me a great eyeline over the hedges to Shropshire’s stunning views.

Yeah I’m still unconvinced by crossovers, but to return to the question asked when the Aircross arrived at Top Gear, the non-sporty sort are the ones to have.

As to the environmental question my wife raised, the Chester weekend could easily have been done by an electric car, provided it was close to 100 per cent at the start. Our friends have a 7kW wallbox so it’d have charged there.

An EV would also have got to Shropshire for my walking weekend. But Rattlinghope doesn’t have a charge point, so I’d have had an interrupted journey home and an eroded sense of freedom.

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