Fleet News

Citroen C5

Citroen

Review

BACK in the days when Citroen was famed for producing elegant yet iconoclastic cars, there was the DS. It was a car that caused the automotive world of the 1950s to take a collective gasp at its unique style and applaud its innovation.

Perhaps its most famous feature was hydraulic suspension, which came to characterise later Citroens, but another feature that died with the DS and its later derivatives was cornering headlamps.

This feature recently made a comeback as BMW, Vauxhall, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Ford and others started to offer the feature on new models.

Citroen has decided the time is right to reclaim the technology as its own on the latest version of the C5.

Most versions will be offered with a bi-xenon headlight package that includes directional headlamps – beams that turn up to 15 degrees in the direction of steering to illuminate more of the road and improve safety.

It will be a £750 option on VTR models and will be a standard feature on Exclusive models. But changes to the latest C5 run rather deeper than re-packaging 40-year-old technology for the present day.

All models come with seven airbags, electronic stabilisation programme (ESP) with traction control, TrafficMaster Oracle 2, an alarm and automatic air conditioning. VTR models come with front fog lights, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, 16-inch alloy wheels, and roof bars on the estate. Dual zone climate control and electric rear windows are also standard.

As well as the directional bi-xenon headlamps, Exclusive cars add a six-CD autochanger, electrically adjustable front seats, a tyre pressure warning system and laminated side windows.

VTR and Exclusive models will also be offered with a lane departure warning system – a production car first for Citroen and something that will follow on the forthcoming C4.

When activated, sensors under the bumper monitor the road for markings. Above 50mph, if the sensors detect road markings such as broken or unbroken lines and the driver hasn’t used the indicator, it activates a vibrating mechanism in the driver’s seat.

Crossing a line will result in significant vibration from the corresponding side of the seat. It is designed to tackle fatigue, letting drivers know if they are tired, hopefully before they have an accident, and encourage them to stop for a break before driving further.

Each motor performs at least nine cycles per vibration. It feels rather like being woken by a loved-one gently shaking your thigh after you doze off in an armchair.

Other hi-tech kit includes a speed limiter which refuses to allow the car to exceed the set speed, but can be overridden by pushing hard on the throttle, and front parking sensors appear for the first time. Proximity to objects when parking is also shown on an LCD display.

The latest C5 comes with the new generation of PSA-Ford diesel engines, including a 110bhp 1.6 HDi and a 138bhp 2.0 HDi. Both are Euro IV compliant and are fitted with particulate filters.

The 2.2-litre HDi from the outgoing C5 is carried over for those who want automatic transmission. This engine has similar power and torque characteristics to the new 2.0-litre HDi, but is not Euro IV compliant and comes with a four-speed automatic transmission.

The range-topping 3.0 V6 comes with a new six-speed automatic, while the 2.0 petrol uses a four-speed auto option. Both the 2.2 HDi auto and the 3.0 V6 variants offer a ‘sport’ mode for the Hydractive 3 suspension which alters the damper settings when selected to accommodate a more vigorous driving style. However, drivers after that type of performance would probably be looking elsewhere.

Citroen also expects this version of the car will gain a five-star Euro NCAP rating for occupant protection when it is tested, exceeding the four stars achieved by its predecessor.

Behind the wheel

THE C5’s new appearance is a dramatic departure from the mildly offbeat original.

The C5, introduced in 2001, had elements of quirkiness dressed up in vaguely normal upper-medium car body.

Yes, there was the unique suspension system, and the C5 seemed implausibly tall, but by traditional standards this was a mainstream car.

The revision to the C5 seems to have emphasised the quirky elements and added a dash of innovation with some of the hi-tech features. The headlamps – redesigned partly to accommodate an effective directional lighting element – have given the car greater presence at the front, while the rear light clusters on the hatchback extend into the boot lid similar in shape to those on the original Maserati 3200GT, albeit a bit wider and without the LED.

It is more or less the same shape as before but now appears to be dressed in a sharper suit.

Inside the C5 is still one of the roomiest cars in its sector offering great elbow room and headroom, as well as generous rear legroom. An extra 15 litres of luggage space has been liberated in the hatchbacks, and while the estate doesn’t offer the most load volume in the class, it does have a large tailgate and a switch to adjust the loading height.

Quality is improved inside with a more upmarket looking dashboard, while whole blocks of switches and controls are identical to those found in the Peugeot 407. It might not be quite at the levels set by Toyota, Honda and Vauxhall, but it is not far off.

The entry level diesel offers useful performance with excellent fuel economy. In common with Peugeot, the engine is merely badged HDi 110 to avoid potential buyers being put off by it being ‘just’ a 1.6-litre.

With 177lb-ft from 1,750rpm, the car never feels short of power and has true 50mpg potential in the right hands.

The 2.0 HDi is more the effortless cruiser though. With ride comfort levels still unmatched in the class, the C5 has the ability to cocoon its occupants from the outside world however long their journey, and deliver them the other side unruffled and at ease. It will never keep up with a Mazda6, Ford Mondeo, Peugeot 407 or for that matter a Vauxhall Vectra on a B-road blast, but that would be to miss the point of the C5.

The brakes can still be rather fierce to the uninitiated, particularly in manual models where there isn’t quite the same gentle movement between the accelerator and brake pedals as there is on an automatic. They are still mighty effective at stopping the car though.

Verdict

FOR someone who covers 20,000 motorway miles or more a year, the C5 must be a key player with its serene ride and relaxed manner. New technology relating to safety also make it a unique proposition, for now at least, leaving rivals to play catch-up.

1.8 2.0 3.0 V6 auto 1.6 HDi 2.0 HDi 2.2 HDi auto
Engine (cc): 1,749 1,997 2,946 1,560 1,997 2,179
Max power (bhp/rpm): 117/5,500 143/6,000 210/6,000 110/4,000 138/4,000 136/4,000
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 118/4,000 148/4,000 210/3,750 177/1,750 236/2,000 232/2,000
Max speed (mph hatch/est): 122/119 131/127 (auto: 130) 143/141 118/116 127/124 127/124
0-62mph (sec hatch/est): 11.3/11.6 9.1/9.3 (10.2) 8.6/8.8 11.3/11.5 9.8/10.0 11.3/11.8
Fuel consumption (mpg hatch/est): 35.8 35.3 (32.8) 28.2 52.3/51.4 47.1 39.8
CO2 emissions (g/km hatch/est): 187 190 (206) 238 142/145 158 186
Fuel tank capacity: 66/14.5
Transmission: 5-sp man; 6-sp man (2.0 HDi); 6-sp auto (3.0 V6); 4-sp auto (2.2 HDi)
) Service interval (miles): 20,000 petrol; 12,500 diesel
Price (OTR): £14,795-£22,295

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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