The Citroën C5 is a stylish, quirky saloon that’s more refined than most rivals. There are some excellent diesel engines and decent equipment levels.
The steering and handling aren’t as rewarding as many rivals’ and the dashboard layout is confusing. Residual values are weak and ride comfort on top-end models is poor.
On the road
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
There are no petrol options for the C5, but there is a broad array of diesels. A 113bhp 1.6-litre is the entry-level option and our pick of the range thanks to adequate performance and good (if not outstanding) emissions. A 2.0-litre with 161bhp and a 2.2-litre with 201bhp make up the faster options. The 2.2 is only available with a automatic gearbox, while the 1.6 and 2.0-litre are available with optional autos, but both are best with the standard six-speed manual.
Ride & Handling
The C5 is unusual, in that it has two different suspension systems to choose from. Most C5s have conventional steel springs, but top-spec Exclusive cars get a hydropneumatic arrangement, as used on all big Citroëns for over 50 years. Oddly, the steel springs offer a more pliant ride – the hydropneumatic suspension jitters over larger bumps and leans heavily through bends. The steering responds sharply and there’s plenty of grip, but you get little sensation through the wheel.
Even some limos aren't as peaceful as top-spec C5s, because these get laminated side glass to help shut out wind noise. Lesser models aren’t quite as refined, but when you're inside, it still feels like the volume’s been turned down on the world. The engines are extremely refined, while the suspension suppresses most noise from the road. The manual gearshift is disappointing, though, because it’s vague and clunky.