The Citroen C5 was introduced in 2001 as a replacement for the aging Citroen Xantia and continues to be produced today. In accordance with parent company PSA’s policy, the C5 shares some features with the Peugeot 407.
The Citroen C5 was introduced with 3 body styles available: sedan, station wagon, and hatchback. The hatchback has a ‘3-box’ design unlike all of Citroen’s previous hatchbacks. Standard features on the higher-end C5 included the Citroen Hydractive3, which is controlled by a computer system that automatically adjusted ride height to suit different situations.
The C5 received a facelift in 2004 that was considered more pronounced than the facelifts given to other models, with the car retaining its centre section, but receiving new front and rear ends, as well as the introduction of 6-speed gearboxes on some models. The hatchback model was also lengthened from 4618mm to 4745mm.
In 2008, the second-generation models were released, with Citroen dispensing of the hatchback altogether, leaving 3 sedan and 3 station wagon variants available on the Australian market. Changes included the addition of slightly smoother contours to the body, which some fans of the idiosyncratic nature of previous Citroen models have criticised, stating that the sedan now has too much of a resemblance to Volkswagen and BMW models in the same class, However, others have argued to the contrary and indeed the pointed noses of second-generation C5 models still sport the unmistakably Citroen-esque front grilles.
When first brought to market, the bottom-of-the-range models used a 1.8L petrol engine that was rather sluggish in comparison to the engines found in other models. Only capable of reaching 100km/h in 11.1 seconds, with an output of 85kW and a torque of 160Nm at 5500rpm, the 1.8L-equppied C5 manual station wagon could nonetheless reach a top speed of 196km/h.
The early second-generation 2.7HDi diesel X7 Tourer model fares a lot better in terms of acceleration, reaching 100km/h in a relatively speedy 9.8 seconds, emitting 150kW of power with a maximum torque of 440Nm. In terms of fuel economy, this model is quite thirsty, using 8L/100km.
The 3.0L diesel V6 engine was released in 2010 as a replacement for the 2.7L engine mentioned above and is the fastest engine that Citroen has ever produced. Power is increased in the newer engine from 150kW to 177kW, and torque is also increased from 440Nm to 450Nm. The sedan can now reach 0-100km/h in 7.9 seconds with an improved fuel economy, now using 7.4L/km, compared to the 8.4L/100km of the previous engine.
In terms of transmission, 4-speed automatic and 5-speed manuals were originally available to the range of first generation models (2001 to 2008), but now, Citroen only produces 6-speed diesel versions of the C5.
Throughout the lifespan of the C5 from 2001 to the present, two suspension systems have been available, the Hydractive3 – which automatically adjusts ride height according to the state of the road upon which the car is driving – and the hydropneumatic suspension which uses mere steel springs and has been a staple at Citroen in different forms for 50 years. The hydropneumatic suspension achieves its purpose of giving more direct feel to the driving experience.
An interesting feature of the Hydractive3 suspension is the way in which it allows the driver to choose from Comfort and Sport mode. In Comfort mode, the C5 tends to be less accurate on corners, making the car rock somewhat uncomfortably in the process. In Sport mode, the C5 does by no means become a rally car, but it does tighten handling noticeably without sacrificing the pleasant smoothness of the ride.
The C5 is generally pleasingly quiet, with the little noise experienced coming from the tyres on rougher surfaces, but nonetheless remaining reasonably unobtrusive.
Throughout the C5 range, standard kit includes speed sensitive power steering, particulate filter-equipped air-conditioning, climate control, electric ‘power’ windows, and electric and heated wing mirrors. A 6-speaker CD audio system and multi-trip computer are also standard on all models.
Safety features are also impressive, even on early models, with anti-lock brakes (ABS) and 6 airbags for the safety of passengers in the front and rear, with the ignition being turned off automatically in the event that any of the airbags are deployed. Originally only available in Exclusive models, Bluetooth connectivity and mp3 compatibility are staples of later models produced after 2010.
With such an impressive array of standard features, buyers of the C5 can opt for an added satnav or metallic paint.
The Citroen C5 is arguably preferable to the Mondeo in terms of fuel economy and overall value, but does not match the Volkswagen Passat in terms of fuel economy and resale value; on the C5, resale value has a tendency to plummet soon after purchase. In the used car market, this could be great for those with minimal funds available, giving them the opportunity to buy a solid car with decent fuel economy for its class and impressive kit to boot.