What You Get
The new generation Citroën C5 is sold in Australia only with diesel engines, in a choice of sedan or Tourer (wagon) and in two levels of trim, Comfort and Exclusive. All models are equipped with the marque’s unique hydro-pneumatic suspension. This latest C5 range is at once more elegant and lavishly equipped than its predecessor and is intended to compete with the BMW 3 Series.
Under The Hood
Engine choice is either a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel which delivers a modest 100 kW of power and 320 Nm of torque or a twin turbo 2.7-litre V6 which makes 150 kW and 440 Nm of torque. Neither offers what could be described as sporting performance with even the V6 sedan taking almost 10 seconds to reach 100 km/h and the four-cylinder Exclusive wagon as tested requiring a long 13.5 seconds.
Fuel economy is slightly disappointing by modern diesel standard and this reflects the considerable weight of the C5. The test wagon weighed considerably more than 1700 kilograms. It proved difficult to bring consumption below 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres in mixed driving with a bias to the open road, suggesting the official figure of 7.2 is about right. What is impressive is the easy pulling power from very low rpm which suggests even the 2.0-litre wagon should tote a substantial load effortlessly. The bonnet itself is supported on a cheap stay rather than gas struts which are the norm in this price class.
Larger Citroëns have long been famed for their comfortable and spacious cabins and the new C5 continues this tradition. Beautifully trimmed leather seats, lots of rear legroom and a superbly finished load area are highlights. Good ergonomics and that interesting fixed hub steering wheel (like some English cars of the 1950s albeit far more attractive and loaded with controls) are highlights. Exclusive models get a fantastic wheel which mixes leather with brushed aluminium look chrome for a stylish and tactile combination. The overwhelming message is: Citroën.
Exterior & Styling
The previous C5 was a dumpy looking car without the grace of predecessors such as the XM and the famous DS. But this new one is sleek and distinctive, with nice detailing and smart alloy wheels – 18 X 8s on the Exclusive (with tyre pressure monitoring), 17 X 7 on the Comfort. The C5 is significantly larger than most cars it is intended to compete with, such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. (It is closer to a BMW 5 Series than a 3 Series.) This difference counts in the Citroën’s favour when it comes to the Tourer which will carry considerably more than its German rivals.
On The Road
In all previous Citroën models thus equipped, the hydropneumatic suspension meant a magic carpet ride. But the new car has lost that because the engineers have tuned it for maximum handling. Frankly, the ride is quite firm at lower speeds and no better on the open road than a good conventional system.
If you expect this to mean that the C5 handles like a BMW, again there is disappointment. Cornering ability is good but not cutting edge. And the steering feel is somewhat vague, especially in comparison with a BMW.
The new C5 is more mainstream than its predecessor and drives accordingly. As a consequence it will not delight Citroën purists, even if it should exert more appeal to buyers looking for good looks, a plush cabin and a long list of standard features.
In terms of sheer value, the C5 is considerably ahead of the German models with which it is intended to compete. While the loss of much of the Citroën character won’t worry many of the target customers, it might deter some marque aficionados.
Priced at some $63K plus on-road costs, the C5 Exclusive Tourer looks quite dear compared with its stablemate, the Peugeot 407 SV HDi Touring which costs only $3000 more but adds the 2.7-litre twin turbo V6 engine. But the Citroën is more stylish. On price it is similar to the Audi A4 Avant in 2.0-litre petrol form, the Mercedes-Benz C220 CDI Classic Estate but undercuts the BMW 323i Touring by about $4000. It has more room for occupants and luggage than any of these and a longer list of useful standard items.
long list of standard features, safety, beautiful leather/chrome steering wheel on Exclusive model
dull steering feel, cheap and ill-fitting plastic piece on left side of dash, evidence of cost-cutting