I am a 35k miles p.a. Sales Executive, who seems to live in my car. The Citroen C5 was given to me as a loan whilst I await my New Mondeo Titanium X diesel hatchback.
From the outside the shape and sleek lines look as fresh as anything else on the road. To the untrained eye, without a badge or front grill marque you would struggle to guess its stable. My disappointments very quickly materialised when sitting inside though. At 6ft tall, it seems that I sit quite a distance back from the pedals than the average 6ft driver. The seat moves sufficiently backwards for me but strangely enough the steeing wheel does want to come back as far as the seat position would warrant. The awkward angle of the seat base makes it impossible to get comfortable.
Citroen have created a steering wheel of the sort that I have never experienced before. The central console remains stationary whilst the wheel turns around it. Brilliant if want to drive around town with your knuckles trapped between the two at every junction. The French must have smaller hands than us Brits.
The hand break neccessitates me leaning forward out of my seat, with the need to reach over the central storage box to get to it.
I should have this car for the next 6 weeks whilst I sit out the extra long delivery of my Mondeo. I have just spoken to the garage who gave me the Citroen to see if they have a bicycle I can use instead. At least I'll still be able to use my mobile.....
This is an early review after only 400 miles and one week, but I can already endorse most of the comments made below. It just feels like driving a limo. The remark about the 'numb steering' criticism was interesting. I also tried many cars, including the BMW 3 series which had a very sharp steering feel. However, at legal speeds, and even around significant bends, I find the effect with both cars was much the same. You turn the wheel and, hey presto, the car goes round the corner!
Haven't had time to try all the knobs and handles yet, but I'm sure the dashboard is OK once you've got used to it. Criticism of interior storage has some justification. For example the glovebox is well named - it will take a pair of gloves but not much else. And I haven't found out yet how to put the clock right. Oh well, you can't expect new cars to be perfect!
Adverts which claim the C5 is 'Unmistakeably German' do the car's soothing demeanour a real injustice - it's quiet, comfortable, and emphasises economy rather than power. It's even cheap to tax, with the 1.6 HDi emitting 149g/km and rated VED band 'C'. Aside from build quality and a few design cues, it actually has very few Germanic traits.
I should stress that contrary to popular belief the C5 does not pitch and wallow. It's a common criticism from people whose knowledge of the car's Hydractive suspension extends to the fact they don't like anything French. The ride tightens the faster you go, or the more you throw it about, and while a C5 won't feel as 'connected' as many rivals, it has a stiff 'Sport' mode and can still be hustled along lanes at a decent clip.
The C5 is cheaper and better equipped than the Mondeo, and is predicted to hold its value better too. While dealers get a roasting in satisfaction surveys, what they sell has been proven more reliable than any Ford or German rival, and the cars are cheaper to repair should things go wrong. Check any claims-based data such as the What Car? Reliability Index - Citroën are in 8th spot behind Japanese manufacturers and Skoda. And you don't laugh at Skoda any more, do you?
Given the cost of fuel, fuel tax, and the appalling condition of roads, not to mention the current obsession with speed enforcement, the C5 makes for as modern a car as I can think of. Go for a test drive!
I tested a number of cars and not being impressed I finally went to a Citroen dealership and drove the C5. What a revelation. Quiet and fabulously smooth. I bought the auto version and, having driven a few hundred miles in it feel totally satisfied - smug even.
The quality of the interior is great. The heavy doors close with a satisfying clunk, the leather seats are extremely comfortable, the auto-wipers are totally silent, the dash and interior fittings really look the business, etc etc.
Confusing dash? - nonsense - you soon get used to it. The satnav is a doddle. With 5 CDs on the harddrive I still have 97% capacity remaining. I bought a second SIM card for a quid and have a hands-free car phone.
The suspension is soft but in a wonderful, wafting along kind of way. I don't drive fast enough(does anyone?) to notice wallowing around bends. And the "numb" steering just adds to the feeling of a wonderful, serene driving experience.
Not having had any previous experience with Citroen my only concern is reliability. Anyway, if it does cost me a few quid in repairs over the years it will be well worth it all the same. (I priced a 3 Series to the same spec and it came to well over 30 grand)
I have been driving for 41 years and am not in the market for a stiff suspension with a white-knuckle type of drive. If you are, then look elswhere. Otherwise, do yourself a favour and test the C5.
Thanks to the lads at Evans Halshaw, Bradford.
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