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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For The C5 is a comfortable and refined classy saloon, that's. It makes a great family car

Against Uncertainty over resale values and questions over its long-term reliability

Verdict The C5 is a solid and stylish saloon that will comfortably handle a family

Go for… 2.0HDi VTR+

Avoid… 2.7 HDi Exclusive

Citroën C5 Saloon
  • 1. Don't shy away from high-mileage models - they could have been well looked after
  • 2. During the test drive for any mysterious clonks and bangs from under the car
  • 3. Previous C5 suffered from electrical glitches, so check all switches carefully
  • 4. Lots of legroom, front and back
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Citroën C5 Saloon full review with expert trade views

When Citroen launched the C5, the marketing message was that the car was as good as anything built in Germany. Although it’s not quite a match for the Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series, you'll be pleasantly surprised by both the design and build quality.

The C5 is big on refinement, and impressively hushed at motorway speeds, because passengers are well insulated from wind-, road- and engine noise. It’s also comfortable, with lots of legroom in the front and back, while only the tallest passengers will find the rear headroom restricted.

Citroen has upped its game with a contemporary cabin design, but some of the controls can be confusing, and rear visibility is restricted. It’s a saloon, so access to the boot is restricted, but the rear seats fold down flat for longer loads.

The C5 has good handling, combined with a supple ride that irons out most lumps in the road.

Trade view

You’re better off with the smaller diesel engines in the C5. The petrol models are hard to come by, while the larger diesels don’t add to the car’s overall ability.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Finding a petrol-powered C5 is not easy, because nearly all new buyers favour diesels. The 2.0-litre petrol feels livelier than the1.8-litre version – and isn't noticeably more thirsty. There is an automatic petrol model, but these are extremely rare on the used market.

By contrast, there’s a wide range of diesels available, which should suit all. Frugal drivers should go for the 108bhp 1.6-litre which averages 50.4mpg, but we would choose the 136bhp 2.0-litre, because it provides the best blend of performance and economy. If it's extra power you want, then check out the 171bhp 2.2-litre, or the 205bhp 2.7-litre – or even the 3.0-litre V6 with 237bhp.

The entry-level SX comes equipped with climate and cruise controls as well as all-round electric windows. Choose the VTR+ and you’ll get alloys, automatic lights and wipers, and dual-zone climate control. In mid ’09 the VTR+ Nav edition was launched with sat-nav as standard. The top-of-the-range Exclusive models bring electrically adjustable seats, parking sensors and a gas suspension system as standard.

Trade view

Leave your preconceptions about the old Citroen C5 at home – this newer model is a genuine step forward in dynamics and build quality.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

There are plenty of diesel C5s on the used market – lower running costs and better resale values mean they’re cheapest to own in the long term. The baby 1.6-litre manages an average of 50.4mpg, ahead of the 2.0-litre with 47.1mpg. The 2.2-litre is still respectable at 43.5mpg, but the 2.7 and 3.0-litres can manage only 33.6mpg and 38.2mpg respectively.

With CO2 emissions roughly the same as rivals', the C5 won’t cost much more to tax than the likes of the Ford Mondeo, unless you opt for the powerful diesels, which peak at 225g/km of CO2 for the 2.7-litre. Insurance premiums shouldn’t cause too much alarm, with cars classed between groups 8-14.

This C5 is a genuine step forward in terms of build quality and design – compared to the previous model, so expect its resale values to stay in touch with those of the Ford Mondeo, but it will lag behind those of the Honda Accord and Volkswagen Passat.

Trade view

You’re better off with the smaller diesel engines in the C5. The petrol models are hard to come by, while the larger diesels don’t add to the car’s overall ability.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Generally, Citroen doesn’t have the best reputation for reliability, but the C5 has impressed its owners. Complaints are few and far between.

Almost every used Citroen C5 started life as a company or fleet car, so condition will vary. Buy only the tidiest examples that look like they’ve been cared for. Don’t shy away from high-mileage examples; they could have spent most of their time on the motorway and, if serviced on schedule, could make a reasonable buy.

The biggest cause of problems on the previous-generation C5 was the electrics, followed by the suspension. Check that all switches and controls work correctly and listen carefully during the test drive for any mysterious clonks and bangs from under the car.

Trade view

Leave your preconceptions about the old Citroen C5 at home – this newer model is a genuine step forward in dynamics and build quality.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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