The fantastic C5 from Citroen is available as a saloon or tourer, and either way you’re in for a treat. Returning 58.9 mpg and with standard features that include cruise control, MP3 connectivity, an acoustic windscreen, and a Rafaelo cloth upholstery, is this the car for you? Get in touch today to discuss our Citroen C5 contract hire and car leasing options.
This isn’t a car you jump into and want to hurl around the lanes. After all, it still isn’t the sharpest steer in its sector but having said that, it’s probably far better suited to the kind of driving that most of the time, these kinds of cars actually do. From the moment you start off in fact, you’re minded more to relax and enjoy the ride. And ride quality is everything with this car – or at least it will be if you’re able to forgo the conventional ‘Metallic’ springs and damper suspension of mainstream versions and opt instead for the magic carpet Hydractive 3+ suspension fitted to the plushest 2. 0 and 3. 0-litre HDi models. It’s one that can change the ride height of the car as needed, for example lowering it at speeds of over 70mph. There’s also a Sport mode to sharpen things up as required.
So equipped, your C5 will deliver easily the most comfortable ride in its class – bar none, thanks to a set-up originally developed for the C6 Executive saloon upon which this car is based, a means of conveyance designed to waft French ministers along the Champs Elysees as they reclined in the rear perusing a copy of Paris Match. It’s serene progress that’s been achieved by replacing conventional springs and dampers with spheres filled by oil and nitrogen. Other brands use similar systems but they’re limited in only being able to vary spring rates according to your speed and the road surface, this one goes a step further by involving the dampers too. By using data from height clearance sensors on each wheel, the Hydractive 3+ set-up automatically adjusts ground clearance according to speed, road surface and the number of passengers on board.
The result is a car that glides over speed humps and virtually ignores poor surfaces. You see the road scars ahead but you simply don’t feel them. It’s all very French, but fortunately without the eccentricities of models past. So quirky ‘on-off’ brakes and vague over-assisted steering have thankfully both been deleted from the menu, replaced by smooth and progressive systems that are actually decently responsive should you need to press on a bit. There’s plenty of grip too and a reasonably slick set of gearboxes – 5 and 6-speed manuals, depending on model, a robotised 6-speed clutch-less EGS set-up and a full-fat 6-speed auto, the transmission offers a ‘Sport’ option for faster changes.
Every car, I think, should have its own unique styling signature, though so few of them do. On this C5, at least on the saloon variant, you’ll find it at the back with the distinctive concave rear screen. Nothing else in the sector looks quite the same. It’s all borrowed from the thinking that created the larger C6, but where the finished lines of that car can look rather awkward, this one is far more cohesive with deep swage lines that run down the flanks and sculpted wheelarches that produce a dynamic stance, even if you opt for the spacious but stylish Tourer estate version. Changes to this revised second generation model are fairly minor: headlamps with integrated LED daytime running lights and revised rear lamps with ‘Dark Crystal’ lenses.
It’s a part-Gallic, part-German mix of styles that continues on inside where flush-folding air vents and polished aluminium door handles offer a crisply up-market Teutonic feel. But even here, there’s an over-rising feel of Frenchness – the soft but supportive seats, the quirky fixed-hub steering wheel aimed at helping the driver more easily access the more important features without diverting attention from the road, compensating for the way the instruments aren’t especially easy to read at first glance. The dash itself also has a quality feel, though is a little over-loaded with buttons.
This remains one of the bigger models in this class, something you appreciate in the rear where legroom is vast, even if headroom isn’t especially impressive. Out back, there’s also plenty of space with a boot that measures out at 439-litres, even before you start folding down the rear seats to extend it. If that’s not enough, then opting for the Tourer estate version with its 5cm of extra body length increases the size of the luggage bay to 505-litres – or 1462-litres with the rear seats folded down.
For all the Germanic marketing that accompanied its launch, this second generation Citroen C5 remains a very Gallic choice, with this improved version continuing to play to the brand’s traditional strengths, prioritising comfort, technology, good looks and a strong range of diesel engines. It's a car that’s found a niche in the medium range sector prioritising pampering over dynamic precision and one that, with welcome running cost improvements, now effectively handles all the basics while remaining just different enough to stand out.
For all that, there will be many who won’t consider it, either simply because it’s a Citroen or because there are newer or higher profile rivals that shout louder for attention. Which is a pity for this C5 is still a very likeable car for the few who’ll take the time to get to know it. An informed choice then – and still a very endearing one.