Practicality and reliability
An estate car's usability depends on how convenient its load area is to work with. The C5 Tourer's is long, flat-sided and the rear seats are easy to fold, so it scores well there.
The load cover doesn't lift with the tailgate, but it retracts when you touch its rear edge and I soon liked its simple efficiency. Once, when I dropped a set of keys while unloading the boot at night, I was grateful that the bootlight detaches to become a handy torch.
What seemed set to spoil things, though, was the will-it/won't-it-work' operation of the automatic tailgate. It should have opened when I pressed a button on the key fob, and closed when I touched the red button in its lip, but it didn't always work. The problem seemed connected to a lack of reserve electrical power.
Just running the radio for five minutes with the engine off caused the whole system to shut down and the sign Entering economy mode' to appear on the instrument display. Owners of C5 Tourers e-mailed to say how annoyed they were by it, too.
In the end, the cure was simple: a Citroen engineer plugged in his laptop, upgraded the car's software and voila! all was fixed. What a relief.
What remained a mystery was the low-speed, low-frequency rumble that got more obvious when I braked. My best guess is that it was tyre noise on certain UK surfaces being transmitted up through the front suspension. Otherwise, the Citroen was notably quiet, thanks in part to its double-glazed windows.
Among its long lists of gee-whizz items, the Tourer included a parking-space-measurement system. I used it once or twice, but it seemed more fiddly than useful. I didn't bother much, either, with the lane-change-warning system (which vibrates the seat if you change lanes without indicating), or the hard-disk stereo system that took so long to upload CDs. I also wished there'd been Bluetooth, and that programming the navigation system was more intuitive.
I was deeply grateful to the tyre-pressure monitor for alerting me to a punctured tyre and to Kwik-Fit's ever-impressive mobile service for repairing it for just 11.75. With 20,000-mile service intervals, the C5 still had 8000 miles left before it needed attention when our time with it ended.
At just on 12,000 miles, it had no rattles and was still displaying build quality to match its style, comfort, refinement and practicality. A year with its unusual attributes and more-French-than-German nature was (after the tailgate problem was fixed) a pleasant experience indeed.
What Car verdict:
Stylish, civilised, comfortable and well-built estate