Published: 16:50 EDT, 1 February 2019 | Updated: 11:15 EDT, 2 February 2019
As it begins its centenary year celebrations, Citroen is launching its new flagship C5 Aircross sports utility vehicle on Monday. And I've been among the first to drive the smooth French five-seater family runaround on British roads.
The new C5 Aircross is the latest model in a refreshed range that aims to put the stress on comfort and design, and impart a feel-good factor to driver and occupants. So don't expect racetrack performance.
Smooth operator: The C5 Aircross SUV has special 'anti-pothole' suspension
Less stress: You get relaxed long-legged driving that is both intuitive and calming
But what you do get is relaxed long-legged driving that is both intuitive and calming — just what you want if you are ferrying a family around.
Comfort is at the heart of the new C5 Aircross — from the extra padded seats to the advanced suspension designed to cushion occupants from the harshness of potholes and speed-bumps.
There are 19 separate driver-assist and braking technologies, including active lane departure warning and blind-spot monitoring. Also available is grip control with hill-descent assist if you go off-road. Stop-Start technology helps save fuel and emissions.
A good selection: There are three trim levels, starting with the Feel, priced from £23,225 to £26,325
There are three trim levels, starting with the Feel, priced from £23,225 to £26,325, the expected best-seller Flair, from £25,325 to £30,325, and Flair Plus, from £27,725 to £32,725.
These integrate with five engine and gearbox combinations from two petrol and two diesel models.
The PureTech petrol 130 is paired with a six-speed manual box, while the 180 version is linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The diesel Blue HDi 130 is matched with both manual and 8-speed automatic gearboxes, while the BlueHDi 180 diesel has just the automatic version. A plug-in electric hybrid version of the C5 Aircross is to follow early next year.
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Choice: The diesel Blue HDi 130 is matched with both manual and 8-speed automatic gearboxes
Innovation: A plug-in electric hybrid version of the C5 Aircross is to follow early next year
I had a relaxing drive around Surrey in a C5 Aircross Flair-Plus in Tijuca Blue with a willing BlueHDi 130 turbo-charged 1.5-litre diesel engine linked to a six-speed manual gearbox.
Acceleration from rest to 62mph is 10.4 seconds with a top speed of 117mph and CO2 emissions of 110g/km.
In the fast lane: I had a relaxing drive around Surrey in a C5 Aircross Flair-Plus in Tijuca Blue
Planning for the future: The firm which started life in 1919 aims to have an electrified option for every model in the range by 2025
The firm which started life in 1919 aims to have an electrified option for every model in the range by 2025.
A replacement for the C4 Cactus is expected to be the first all-electric Citroen.
What would Nicole and Papa make of it
Nicole and Papa from one of the famous Renault Clio adverts
Renault is launching the fifth generation of its best-selling Clio. The car was launched in 1990 and has sold more than 15 million.
I owned one myself — a perky little 16-valve hot hatch — in those early days.
In Britain, the Clio became associated with the exploits of Nicole, played by actress Estelle Skornik in the TV advert — who, initially, couldn't actually drive — and the charming Max Douchin as Papa.
The new Renault Clio will be the fifth generation of the popular French car
I met them during their final Clio appearance in 1998 in a spoof of the end scene in The Graduate.
The 2019 model will debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month.
Renault design chief Laurens van den Acker said: 'The interior has under-gone a revolution and technology has upgraded. It is the best Clio yet.'
Inside the Clio looks very grown up compared to those early small hatches
What could it be? New Morgan spotted in 'disguise'
Spied out on trial in disguise — a brand new classic hand-built British sportscar from Morgan, which this year celebrates its 110th anniversary.
This new 'wide-bodied' Morgan with a new aluminium chassis — which the firm has spent £7 million developing — will create 'the most dynamically capable production Morgan ever,' say bosses of the Malvern-based company.
Under wraps: This new 'wide-bodied' Morgan will create 'the most dynamically capable production Morgan ever
It is expected to be fitted with a meaner six-cylinder petrol engine from BMW and to have its world debut at next month's Geneva Motor Show.
It replaces the outgoing thirsty V8 engine and the Aero 8 and Plus 8 models, one of which was driven by Rolling Stone Mick Jagger in the Seventies.
Last year Morgan’s 204-strong workforce built just 681 cars but profits rose to a record £3.6million.
And there’s another nice little earner. More than 30,000 people a year visit Morgan’s century old factory, paying £24 a time to see the cars – costing from under £40,000 to more than £140,000 - being hand-made.
And the firm, which was once infamous for waiting lists of between five and seven years when it was put under scrutiny by the late entrepreneur and TV Troubleshooter Sir John Harvey Jones, can now satisfy most eager customers within just five to six months.
There's not much chance of hiding that a Morgan is a Morgan, even in camouflage
Morgan chairman Dominic Riley said: ’We believe we’re going to produce the finest Morgan sports car ever. And we’ve brought efficiency to the manufacturing of our cars and three-wheelers which helps profitability.’
He noted: ’Sir Harvey’s comments all those years ago were a bitter pill to swallow, but actually many of the efficiencies he highlighted have been taken on board. So you can now get your Morgan I around six months rather than seven years.’
Could Morgan produce an SUV? ‘Never say never’, it says.
Managing director Steve Morris, who joined the firm 35 years ago as a sheet-metal apprentice, said: ’SUV’s are very popular. Aston Martin and Lotus are doing them. Not yet for us. But in the future? Who knows?’
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