Citroen C5 Aircross Hybrid 136 (2024) review
Citroen adds mild-hybrid tech to its petrol C5 Aircross SUV to make it greener.
Matt Robinson
Matt Robinson

Published on September 13, 2023

Citroen is in the process of updating plenty of its electric and electrified models right now, giving them more range and/or extra power too. The C5 Aircross family SUV is no exception to this, with a larger battery pack for the 225hp plug-in hybrid (PHEV), as well as a new 180hp PHEV to go with it. But it's arguably this car, the new Hybrid 136, which is of most interest. In this, 48-volt technology is added to the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine in order to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 15 per cent each. So, has this update improved the artist formerly known as the 130 PureTech, or are you better off sticking to one of the PHEVs?

In the metal

There are no visual changes to the Citroen C5 Aircross to denote its new-found Hybrid status. Indeed, the five-door SUV doesn't even get a boot badge that says 'Hybrid', nor specific wheels nor blue highlights nor... well, anything, really. This is probably a deliberate strategy of 'normalising' the expanding use of electrification in modern motoring, and there's not real issue on our part with it for two main reasons: one, the C5 Aircross was significantly updated at the end of 2022, with aesthetic modifications across the board, so further stylistic tweaking was presumably unnecessary; and two, the Citroen is a good-looking thing - chunky, without being offensively large, and visually interesting to behold, given the company's current styling ethos.

Inside, it's much the same story, although there is a specific display in the instrument cluster for the Hybrid. This shows various details to remind you that you're not just driving a PureTech petrol any longer, such as the rev counter switching to a blue colour when the Citroen is driving on its electric motor alone. There's also a graphic for the energy flow of the hybrid drive system, an indicator for the level of battery charge, a power meter marked up 'Charge, Eco, Power' (depending on how much throttle you're using), and then a gauge which shows you the percentage of distance travelled in electric mode, with averages for single journeys and longer-term data too.

Otherwise, it's business as usual in the C5 Aircross' roomy, practical and highly comfortable cabin, albeit with an infotainment interface that feels like it is falling ever further behind the class-leading systems in rival cars. This model doesn't get the latest, more advanced set-up as you'd see in the likes of the Citroens C4, e-C4 X and C5 X, for example.

However, the soft seats and the general feeling of quality within are both facets which make the C5 Aircross feel upmarket and special, but it's a shame the French company keeps all of the exterior aesthetic design flair out of the passenger compartment. Save for a strip of fabric on the passenger side of the dashboard, the main fascia is basically charcoal on charcoal on charcoal. Nothing wrong with the standard of materials used, just that it's all very monotone to gaze upon - and, on a rainy day, that makes the cabin quite a dull and gloomy place to be sitting, full-length panoramic roof or no. A little more textural 'light and shade' wouldn't go amiss here, please, Citroen.

Driving it

The main addition to the driving experience is the 21kW (28hp) and 55Nm electric motor built into the powertrain of the C5 Aircross Hybrid, which is powered by a 0.4kWh, 48-volt battery pack sited under the left-hand front seat. This is paired to a revised version of the 1.2-litre PureTech three-cylinder petrol engine, in which Citroen says 40 per cent of the parts are new. Peak outputs are now 136hp (up from 130hp previously) and 230Nm, the maximum torque remaining as it was before. The French company has also got rid of the old 'EAT8' automatic transmission with eight speeds, replacing it with a six-speed electrified dual-clutch gearbox which it dubs e-DCS6.

Additionally, there's a belt-starter for the petrol engine, so it can fire up quickly when it's called into action after electric driving, and a voltage converter that can turn some of the electricity generated by the 48-volt motor into 12-volt supply, allowing it to power the car's usual onboard stuff like lights, sound system and so on. Citroen says this entire set-up will reduce the fuel consumption of the C5 Aircross by 1.0l/100km - or 15 per cent - to 5.1 litres/100km, when compared to a 130 PureTech EAT8 (6.1 litres/100km). Same for the CO2 emissions, which are down to 129g/km on this Hybrid 136 from 149g/km on the plain-petrol equivalent.

Then there are the benefits of silent electric driving in towns and the like. Although that battery pack is very modest, meaning there isn't an official 'electric driving range' quoted for the C5 Aircross Hybrid 136, Citroen nevertheless claims that the car will drive in zero emissions mode for up to 50 per cent of the time it is travelling in urban areas, while the efficiency gap between this new electrified powertrain and the old pure petrol it replaces is claimed to rise to 30 per cent less petrol consumed in favour of the Hybrid if you just stick to city streets.

Coupled with the 'Advanced Comfort' ethos of the Citroen brand, which still results in terrifically squidgy yet supportive seats in the front of the C5 Aircross and super-supple suspension underpinning the whole SUV, this is a pleasant family vehicle which is incredibly comfortable to ride in. Very rarely do occupants get any sense of the topography of the encountered road surface, while the suspension is also quiet in operation too, which means that when it is smoothing away lumps and bumps from beneath the wheels, you don't hear it clonking or thumping at all. This level of serenity is only added to by the near-silent electric driving sessions you then enjoy in built-up areas, as the engine dies away and leaves the new electric motor to pull the Citroen along. When the engine does have to fire up again, it's a thoroughly imperceptible process so it's a big tick on the report card for the integration of hybrid technology into the petrol powertrain.

And that's the C5 Aircross' forte: its relaxing and stress-free nature. Because, if there are any negatives to highlight, they relate to what we already know about present-day Citroens - when it comes to handling, it's best to just... kind of forget about it. Not that there's anything wrong with the grip levels provided, nor the consistency of the steering - this is actually pretty good, to be fair - but it's just that the softly-sprung body isn't really up for any spirited cornering shenanigans, while the drivetrain is punchy enough yet not geared towards performance driving in the slightest.

While you might look at the petrol and electric components of the Hybrid's drivetrain, thinking this is a 164hp/285Nm C5 Aircross overall, that's not the case; at most, the electric motor adds 9kW (12hp) into the mix to assist with acceleration, so Citroen only quotes the 136hp and 230Nm outputs of the petrol engine as the system maximums for this new model.

OK, so there's no problem with a family SUV that focuses on smoothness over speed (who goes throwing these things along twisty roads anyway?) but, even allowing for that, there are rivals which do body control, road-holding and a smattering of driving/powertrain thrills better than the Citroen. Perhaps at the expense of the C5 Aircross' outright comfort levels, however.

Finally, the new gearbox isn't a world-beater. It's not that the eight-speed auto it replaces was a paragon of hyper-rapid, smooth-shifting wonder, but this dual-clutch unit seems to take its time changing between ratios, while there are occasional moments of lumpy take-off if you're not paying attention that can spoil the Citroen's otherwise-impeccable town manners. It's an OK transmission, is what it is, and we have no doubts it helps with the SUV's overall efficiency levels, but in terms of refinement it feels like a half-step backwards from the gearbox it has superseded.

What you get for your money

Irish prices and specs for the C5 Aircross Hybrid 136 haven't been confirmed by Citroen Ireland as yet, but as soon as we have concrete details then we'll amend this section of the review. For now, a facelifted C5 Aircross PureTech 130 starts at €39,380 and rises to €42,990, across a trim hierarchy that runs Feel Pack, Flair and then C-Series Edition. It's highly likely that the Hybrid 136 will follow the same spec ladder. This new version will be on sale by Q1 in time for the "241" registration period.


An understandable addition to the C5 Aircross range, the new Hybrid 136 is not exactly a game-changer for Citroen. Neither is it the sharpest tool in the box, from a dynamic perspective, and there are question marks hanging over the new e-DCS6 gearbox too, but otherwise this is a smooth, efficient, practical, likeable and - crucially - ridiculously comfortable family SUV that shouldn't cost the earth to either buy, or run. OK, that's always been the C5 Aircross' schtick, but if you aren't ready to own a plug-in electrified vehicle, yet you want to do your bit to reduce your carbon footprint, then the new Hybrid could be the model to aim for in the Citroen C5 Aircross line-up.


Tech Specs

Model testedCitroen C5 Aircross Hybrid 136
Powertrainmild-hybrid petrol - turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, 21kW electric motor and 0.4kWh, 48-volt lithium-ion battery pack
Transmissionautomatic gearbox - electrified six-speed dual-clutch 'e-DCS6', front-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions129g/km
Irish motor tax€200 per annum
Fuel consumption5.1 litres/100km (55.4mpg)
Top speed200km/h
0-100km/h10.2 seconds
Max power136hp at 5,500rpm
Max torque230Nm at 1,750rpm
Boot space580 litres rear seats up, 1,630 litres rear seats down
Rivals to the C5 Aircross Hybrid 136 (2024)