The sun peeks out from behind the grey clouds for an instant as we take our positions, bathing the Citroen C5 Aircross and the BMW X1 in dappled light. Kaizad is standing about 200 metres away, waving at us to get going, and Janak and I shoot forward over the slush filled path, barely a couple of feet apart. He’s in the C5 Aircross, I’m in the X1 sDrive20d, and this is our second attempt at a gorgeous splash shot. As the French SUV nudges ahead a tiny bit and obscures my view with a cascade of brown, muddy water, I hope Kaizad has got the shot so I can put my wiper on. What I realise as we reposition ourselves to try again is that these SUVs may be soft-roaders, but squishy trails filled with water aren’t much of a challenge for these cars. Sure, it’s not what they’re meant for, but it’s commendable that they can pull it off anyway.
What we’re trying to prove here is that you don’t need to spend luxury-SUV money when you’ve got a more affordable alternative that feels nearly as premium. Citroen has entered the Indian market with something of a halo car. The C5 Aircross (₹30.80-32.30 lakh, ex-showroom, India) is the most premium model the French carmaker has in its range and doesn’t have any direct rivals in our market due to its price point, size, and features. In fact, one could argue that the way the Citroen is positioned, it could entice those looking for an entry-level luxury SUV. But does the C5 Aircross actually have what it takes to compete against the likes of the BMW X1 sDrive20d (₹43 lakh)?
One look at the Citroen and you know its funky styling is going to grab more eyeballs than the BMW. The C5 Aircross does look better in person than on paper, though I can understand how some would consider it to be overdone. The unconventional horizontal grille sits below the double-chevron logo, which extends all the way to the slim DRLs, and gives the illusion of width. The trapezoidal element seen on the front bumper can also be seen on the sides and on the inside, which is a nice touch.
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