Whenever a car is replaced or facelifted nowadays, the big change from what went before is invariably a raft of driver assistance systems, such as autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind spot warning and more. Anything that can reduce collisions has to be a good thing, but make a car too safe and risk compensation kicks in. This is when drivers feel so protected that they take more risks, increasing danger levels rather than reducing them.
Our C5 Aircross has got such a raft of safety systems that I sometimes feel like I’m just a co-driver. It comes with Highway Driver Assist which according to Citroën “is a big step towards semi-autonomous driving” as I “no longer need to constantly manage speed and direction during journeys, as your vehicle is safely in control”. Frankly I’d prefer to retain control at all times, but as long as the technology isn’t intrusive, it’s fine. To me the best measure of safety technology is not so much how effective it is in use, but how unobtrusive it is when it’s not needed. The fact that the autonomous emergency braking hasn’t yet cut in for no good reason is worth celebrating – I’ve driven plenty of other cars that think I’m about to collide with something on a completely deserted road.
The lane departure warning system is annoyingly intrusive though; get anywhere near a white line without indicating and I’m wrestling with the steering. When a bank of switches fell inside the dashboard soon after the car was delivered, I could no longer switch off this technology which was incredibly annoying, because every time I tried to move back into lane one on the motorway having overtaken something, the car would be fighting me to stay in the middle lane unless I signalled that I was moving back in – whether or not a signal was necessary. The switches were fixed and my blood pressure reduced, as I could switch off the lane departure warning system as part of my start up routine.
What I can’t switch off is the loud bonging that permeates the cabin when I approach a speed camera. The volume can’t be adjusted, so it’s especially annoying – particularly when driving on smart motorways which are festooned with speed cameras. Even worse, there’s a bong as you approach the camera and another once you’ve driven past it, with the car warning of the camera’s presence regardless of speed. So if I’m stuck in slow-moving traffic crawling along at 25mph on a 70mph motorway, the car will still bong twice in quick succession every few hundred yards which isn’t very helpful at all. Where would we be without the good old Nanny State looking after us?
Date arrived 10th July 2019
Fuel economy 48.0-56.3mpg (WLTP combined) 44.7mpg (on test)
The rear parking camera works brilliantly, and as you get close to something behind, the view switches from looking back to an overhead view, so you can see exactly how close you are.
We’re not sure if the AdBlue tank is very small or if the car came in with it only partially filled, but after less than 3,600 miles had been notched up, the tank demanded to be refilled.