Citroen C5 Aircross is a well-thought out SUV that can tame even the world’s steepest streets

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SEARCH “world’s steepest street” on Google and Baldwin Street in New Zealand flashes up first.

It is very impressive. You’ll find videos of daft people riding tricycles down it, Gutbuster races up and back down it, Jaffa Cake roll-a-thons.

The C5s Hill Descent Assist helps the motor take on the scariest gradients with ease

It is a popular tourist attraction certified by Guinness World Records.

But hang on a minute, my Kiwi friends. Stop. Did you say Baldwin Street has a confirmed gradient of 35 per cent?

Er, you might have a problem because the Welsh town of Harlech has a road at 36 per cent, with the steepest ten-metre section at 39 per cent.

Which should mean that Ffordd Pen Llech — roughly translated as road at the top of the rock — will take the title, subject to official measurements submitted last month.

Sumptuous inside and pretty easy on the eye, Citroen have come up with a winner of an SUV

That was all the excuse I needed to drive down it — with both feet OFF the pedals — in a Citroen C5 Aircross.

Except no crash helmet or oversized cojones were required here.

I simply pressed the Hill Descent Assist button, popped the gearbox into neutral and let the car crawl itself down the road slowly, on and off the brakes, as I steered. Easy. Effortless. Stress-free. And as assured as a mountain goat.

Even more impressive was the smooth ride quality on my 340-mile round trip to Snowdonia.

Ffordd Pen Llech in Harlech, north-west Wales, could be the world’s steepest street
In the C5, you can confidently stop on a ridiculous hill and grab a packet from wine gums in Julie’s shop

The sofa-like seats must take some of the credit but the calmness is mostly due to something called hydraulic bump stops.

Without being too technical, they progressively slow the suspension movement at the extremes of its travel more gently than traditional bump stops, which means the suspension can be softer and more accommodating in the middle part of its travel — and Citroen does this best.

Other things to note. This is a well-thought-out five-seat family SUV with sliding rear seats that fold flat and a big storage bin in the central glovebox.

Everything you touch has a DS-style quality with cheaper plastics used elsewhere.

Inside the cab, the 8-speed auto C5 has a top-of-the-range feel, including its active cruise control

Slick eight-speed auto. Active cruise control. Grip Control (£400 option) adds drive modes for snow, sand and mud — and the Aircross stands out from the Qashqai crowd with its quirky “air bump” door protectors.

But I do have a gripe. The air-con. You can only adjust the cabin temperature via the touchscreen.

Please, give us a simple knob. And then it takes two steps to get back to the satnav, which is annoying.

Oh, and Google Maps on your phone is better than in-built satnavs. But the C5 only mirrors the route on the central touchscreen — not on the digital driver’s screen. That needs looking at.

A few techical gripes aside, the C5 is well equipped and a beautiful ride
Believe it or not, the Citroen C5 Aircross drives just as well on the open road – and looks even better


A final word from Julie Brookes, who works at Seasons & Reasons newsagents and general store at the summit of Ffordd Pen Llech.

She said: “We’ve got our fingers crossed for the record. Harlech already has the castle, golf course, beautiful coastline and, of course, the song Men Of Harlech, but having the world’s steepest street would really boost the town.

“We could rename this place The Shop At The Top.”

KEY FACTS

CITROEN C5 AIRCROSS

Price: £32,725

Engine: 2-litre turbo diesel

Power: 174hp, 400Nm

Economy: 44mpg

0-62mph: 8.6 secs

Top speed: 131mph

CO2: 124g/km

Out: Now

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