What Car? Green awards 2008 - Family cars
All too often, being green means making compromises, but the new Citroen C5 shows you can live the good life without it costing the earth.
From the minute you slip behind the wheel, the car feels special - you could be forgiven for thinking you're in an executive model, not a family one. The quality of the materials used, and Citroen's contemporary styling, gives the C5 a genuinely German feel.
Hit the road and the Citroen shows real composure, too. You're isolated from the outside world, with minimal tyre and wind noise.
The VTR+ doesn't get the ultra-smooth Hydropneumatic suspension of high-end models, but it doesn't need it. The standard set-up still soaks up the majority of bumps and provides a beautifully comfortable ride.
The diesel engine is also silky and doesn't disturb the peace. The 2.0-litre diesel is our favourite, but the 1.6 copes well and is greener, with over 50mpg and lower emissions.
The C5 is fitted with a particulate filter, giving very low sooty emissions, while NOx output isn't bad, either.
If you need one more green reason to buy, consider the fact that the car is built in France, so it hasn't been shipped halfway round the world at the expense of the environment.
The C5 is a saloon, which means it isn't as practical as a hatchback, but the boot is a good, usable size and is easy to load. Inside there's lots of knee and shoulder room, while only those over six feet tall may be a little short on headroom.
You get loads of toys for your cash: the VTR+ comes with alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, and dual-zone climate control. There's also plenty of safety equipment, with seven airbags and stability control as standard.
The C5 is designed to appeal to company car drivers, and you'll pay just 20% in company car tax for the 1.6 HDi VTR+.
In the past, Citroen hasn't had the best reputation for reliability, but the C5 feels like a step forward in quality. The C5 has a few small faults, though. Build quality is generally good but, if you look carefully, there are some rough edges.
Traditionally the residual value of Citroens hasn't been anything to write home about, and the new C5's future is far from certain. If you're going to buy new, haggle for the best deal possible to offset what the car will lose while you own it.
There are very few new C5s on the used market, with the 1.6-litre diesel being the most elusive, so it would be best to hang on for a few months.
By the end of the year there should be a reasonable selection of used models to choose from, but if you need to buy now, haggle hard.
Best buy £16,000-£18,000
Citroen C5 1.6 HDi VTR+
Target Price £16,752
Average economy 50.4mpg
Green verdict An executive-quality car that treats you well and treads lightly on the environment
Best buy up to £16,000
Mazda 6 2.0D S 5dr
Target Price £14,626
Average economy 50.4mpg
Green verdict Practical, fun and eco-friendly on a budget
Best buy £18,000+
Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCI 140 Zetec 5dr
Target Price £17,359
Average economy 47.9mpg
Green verdict Stylish and brisk, but with good fuel economy and low emissions
With thanks to the Eden Project: www.edenproject.com