“NEW” Citroen C5 – More Jean Marie than Klaus?
We always liked the old model Citroen C5, it was big car, had loads of bits and offered fantastic value for money. Whilst it drove well, it was easy to live with and pretty much delivered all you would expect from a car in its class, but it never ever shouted about it.
The New C5 on the other hand is shouting out loud, and trumpeting its build quality to anyone who will listen. At the moment the Citroen strap-line is “Different is Everything” but it seems that the only difference Citroen actually seem to want is to be German and not French.
So many times we have heard manufacturers talk nonsense such as “yes we see our new Astra as a direct competitor to the BMW 1 Series” and other non-sensical tosh that proves they just don’t understand their potential customers.
The German thing is what all manufacturers seem aspire to because German cars hold their value and are perceived as being better built. Fact is that German cars are popular because of Audi, Volkswagen, BMW and of course Mercedes, as they are all aspirational vehicles, not just because they are German and not even because they are built better, its because of the upmarket badge.
Just saying a car is “German-ish” just doesn’t convince anyone, it’s French and no amount of sword waving snow bound dueling Germans are going to convince us otherwise. But taking that one step further, what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with being French? Why are Citroen so keen to associate themselves with Klaus rather than Jean-Marie.
The French are stylish creative people with Joie de vivre and panache, they design great clothes and lead the world in high fashion, they make fantastic wines and cheeses to die for and French cuisine is superb. The French have their own minds, suffer fools lightly and to paraphrase Andre Citroen’s comment, they are different. But nicely different.
Without the French, the world wouldn’t have had pasturised milk, the French horn, the French kiss, French cinema, French fries and above all, we wouldn’t have had the bikini. So I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would be dumping all that heritage in favour of Klaus and his frankfurters.
That said, what Citroen are actually trying to convince us of is that although this might be a French car, it’s built in a German way and on reflection, I guess that’s a pretty strange thing for Citroen to say as the rest of their range of cars & vans are built in the “French way” what ever that might be and are just fine.
No matter what they say, the Citroen C5 is a French car and having tested one for two weeks, we think it’s a very nice French car and one Citroen can and should be well proud of, and indeed, they should be shouting about it from the top of the Eiffel Tower
The first hurdle for this new kid on the block to get over is that the market place for cars like Citroen C5 is already overcrowded and Its real competitors include Mondeo, Laguna, Avensis, Passat, 407 and of course the soon to be launched (Vectra replacement) Vauxhall Insignia and the mega value for money Skoda Superb, due out in September 08.
Citroen can trump on and compare the new C5 to BMW, Audi etc and that’s where I am sure Citroen would like to see it (and perhaps in Europe, that’s where it is) but fact is that however good the Citroen C5 might be, in England, its never ever going to convince a badge conscious BMW buyer out of his and symbol of economic prestige and that can be just as equally said for any of the C5’s competitors. Fact is most BMW drivers wear their baseball caps on backwards with there brains pointing in the same direction and whilst the new Citroen C5 needs to know its place that certainly isn’t wasting time trying to overcome an illogical badge fetish by offering something as logical as a damn good French car as an alternative.
First impressions, well the new Citroen C5 certainly is a great looking car that to my mind looks better in some colours than others,but being honest, from pretty much any angle, its really attractive up to date modern but even de-badged, there would be no chance of mistaking that it’s a Citroen and styling wise, it blows its French mate the Laguna out of the water.
The C5’s design shares much with its bigger brother the C6 and parts of it even harp back to the SM of the past. It’s a big car and we really liked the use of the convex rear screen ala C6. We also liked the shallow side glass which gave the C5 a moody look and whilst we can’t echo Citroens comments that “The new C5 stirs the emotions from first glance” it is a pretty car.
Prices start at around £15.600 for the 1.8SX, going up to a touch over £24,000 for the Exclusive 2.7Hdi Auto. The C5 will also be available in Estate and this carries pretty much an £1100 premium across the range.
There are just 3 trim levels, SX, VTR+ and Exclusive.
The engine line up is what you’ve become used to with the PSA Group cars and diesels play a major part, with 4 diesel options ranging from the 1.6Hdi 110ps, 2.0Hdi 138ps, 2.2Hdi 173ps and finally the 2.7Hdi 208ps V6 and there are automatic options in the 2.0Hdi 138ps & the 2.7Hdi.
Petrol wise there are just two offerings, the 1.8 16v 127ps and the 2.0 16v 143ps, which is also available as an auto, although it’s estimated that around 70% of UK sales will be for the diesel versions.
Our car was a 2.2 Diesel VTR+ Manual.
First thing you notice when you get in the car is a mass of buttons and controls and being honest, we found them a little confusing (even after several days). The cars central steering boss stays fixed so it should be easy to use the controls, but fact is that even after driving the car for 2 weeks, this wasn’t something we warmed to as we struggled to find what button did what.
Our car had satellite navigation, but no matter how we tried, we couldn’t get road names alongside the streets on the display and that for us was very disappointing. We thought the display graphically wasn’t as fine as other we have tried either, much more Amstrad than Apple.
You could use your phone from the car, but like in its big brother the C6, it requires you pulling your mobile handset apart, removing your sim-card and inserting it in the cars dashboard. For me, that’s a complete non-starter, why did they even bother, when cars that are so much further down the evolutionary scale have standard Bluetooth which auto-detects your phone the moment you get in the car. C5 offers Bluetooth for an extra £175 but why oh why isn’t it standard? For me, I wouldn’t buy one without it.
The dashboard instrumentation is nice and its graphics are clear and concise, but following Andre Citroens, will to make things different, the needles come out of the side of the gauges rather than from the centre as on normal cars. Our VTR+ gave much play to both oil pressure and water temperature, whilst fuel was kind of tucked away.
The cars audio system is good, very good in fact and It’s loaded with options including the ability to upload 10GB of your favorite songs and store them in your C5, avoiding the need to carry loads of clunky CD’s around. It also plays MP3’s straight from a CD and it sounds great. Well done to Citroen here.
Our car had front and rear parking sensors, with gap detection, which frankly sent us mad, with so many chimes and warnings going off. In addition should you dare to move without putting on your seat belt, even more chimes, so even just manoeuvring the car in your driveway was a very stressful experience.
We liked the cars turning head lights that lit up every corner you came to. We liked its auto rain sensitive wipers and auto headlamps and we even liked the orange glow in the cabin at night (very BMW). All cars get cruise control and speed limiter as standard, which is a nice touch. We hated the cars stupid electronic handbrake, which sometimes took what seemed like ages to come on, or go off (but then we hate electronic handbrakes full stop).
Safety wise, the car has all the most up to date things to keep you and your passengers alive & kicking and these include 9 airbags, collapsible pedal system, front back and side airbags, whilst the fixed hub on the steering wheel ensured the driver’s airbag always deployed at the right angle, and the knee airbag protected the driver even further.
The C5 has an advanced braking system with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Emergency Brake Assist and ABS and ESP are of course standard and the car brakes well. Some models are fitted with Citroens excellent safety feature, the “Lane Departure Warning System” which you have to try to believe and which vibrates your seat hugely, should you dare to stray over the white line in the centre of the road, which should keep you paying attention and stop you dropping or off!
On the road, our 2.2Hdi was silky smooth, comfortable and quiet with hardly and wind noise or road noise, no matter what the speed, so top marks there
The cars Hydractive 3 Plus suspension gave the option of a comfy cruise ride or a more aggressive sports mode, which allowed you to throw this barge of a car around as you might with a car half of its size.
Whilst our 2.2Hdi was quick, of that there was no doubt; it certainly made you pay a price, with our 2.2 diesel returning under 30mpg average. OK, we were not trying to do any kind of economy run here and we kind of felt we could achieve an average over 40mpg if we drove like a church mouse, our very recent tests on a Focus 1.8TDCi (driven in the same way) saw us achieve just short of 45mpg, but then it’s a much smaller car.
So where are we with the Citroen C5.
Fact is there is nothing you can criticise the car for. It is French and it’s better for being French. It is attractive and it is imposing with a real road presence. It drove beautifully, handled very well and was exceptionally quiet. The Suspension options offered many choices of comfort and it had excellent safety equipment and a great audio system.
So you would be thinking we are unreservedly recommending the new C5, well yes, but then no also. There are stacks of cars in this segment and realistically as an all rounder, the new Citroen C5 is as good as any of them, indeed better than a number of them, arguably better than all of them?
Should you buy a Citroen C5?
The new Citroen C5 is very much like the Mondeo in terms of size, and is (in our opinion) far prettier than either of its French counterparts, the laguna or 407. The Passat and Avensis are getting on a bit now, as is the current Vectra & Skoda Superb, both which will be replaced very shortly.
I guess at the moment, it’s a choice between Citroen C5 and Mondeo, both are stunning high quality cars that offer the very latest in technology and safety, both do the job exceedingly well. Or alternately, you hang on and wait for the new Vauxhall Insignia or the new Skoda Superb which is due out in September 08 (which by the way we have already tested and loved).
Fact is that the new Citroen C5 delivers a surprising all-round package which in the past, you would genuinely only have found in an up market prestige vehicle, so that’s got to be good as its being offered to you at bargain basement prices.
The new Citroen is a lovely car in every way, its easy to live with but my problem was that personally it just didn’t motivate me, I didn’t want to turn back and look at it when I parked it and I wasn’t excited every time I got in it and that’s what I want from a car. I need to be excited about the car I drive and the C5 just didn’t hit the spot for me. I guess it like the two lovers that are splitting up….its me, not you.
But if you’re one of the 99% of drivers who want a classy upmarket car to get from A to B quickly, very safely and hugely comfortably, than I can fully and whole heartedly recommend this car to you unreservedly.
For a quotation on the New Citroen C5 or any other Citroen, please call us or e-mail us.