Yesterday I took delivery of a new car – a Citroen C5 diesel. Up until recently I had a Citroen C6 which was an astonishingly beautiful car but which had depreciated rapidly – after 18 months its value had fallen by around 45% – and I decided to move on before I lost too much money. The C6 was very exclusive: its shape was unlike any other car on the road and drew admiring glances from both other road users and pedestrians. In the 18 months I owned it, I never saw another one. Unfortunately, it was also quite expensive to run. Its 2.7 litre twin turbo diesel engine mated to automatic transmission meant that it rarely achieved more than 30 miles to the gallon.
The C5 has a smaller, 2.2 twin turbocharged engine generating around 175 bhp, some 30 bhp less than the C6 but it actually performs much the same as the C6 because of its lower weight, even though the C5 is just 4 inches shorter. The C5 also has a manual 6 speed gearbox and I’m expecting the car to achieve around 45 miles per gallon overall.
The interior of the C5 is a very civilised place to be. The leather clad seats are supportive and in pale grey give the car an airy feel. The dash is covered with a textured soft touch plastic which looks and feels good. In motion the car is remarkably hushed, thanks in part to double glazed side windows which keep out road and traffic noise. Technology abounds: the parking brake is electric and engages automatically when the engine is switched off, disengaging automatically again when you lift the clutch to drive away. There is a clever feature which tells you if a parking space is big enough for the car, a tight squeeze or best forgotten and a massage function for the driver’s seat. The sound system is first class and unusually in this class of car, features a juke box facility, which allows you to record mp3s onto an internal 10 GB hard drive.
A couple of Citroen idiosyncracies remain: the hydropneumatic suspension provides a superbly absorbent ride soaking up potholes and bumps effortlessly yet automatically firming up when cornering spiritedly. The rear window is concave like that of the C6 and the CX of years ago; not just cosmetic though, it allows a wide opening to the boot (trunk).
If you want a car that’s quiet, comfortable and relaxing on a long journey look no further. If, on the other hand, you’re a middle aged boy racer seeking razor sharp handling, hard seats and uncompromising suspension, you’ll be better off with a Mercedes C-class ‘Sport’ or a BMW 5 series! The choice is yours…