Citroën C5 X long-term test: report 3

The C5 X channels the style and comfort of Citroëns of old, but how does it stack up against its estate-car rivals? We're running one to find out...

Citroen C5 X front cornering shot

The car Citroën C5 X 1.2 Puretech 130 Shine Plus Run by Mark Pearson, used cars editor

Why it’s here The distinctive C5 X seems to offer something different in the estate car class, with a set-up that prioritises comfort over sporty handling. We want to see if it can cut the mustard in real-world use

Needs to Prove It’s more than just a pretty face. It’ll need to dispatch commuting, work and family life with flair and cope with a wide variety of everyday duties 

Miles covered 4995 Price £32,160 Target price £29,982 Price as tested £31,930 Official economy 48.6mpg Test economy 35.7mpg 

2 February – Take me on a trip upon your magic swirling ship

Although I find the plush interior of my C5 X a good place to spend time, I have had problems getting my leg over when I'm getting into it.

You see, it has a very high sill just where you swing your legs over to plant yourself in or exit from the driver’s seat, and I keep catching myself on it. The only real damage, I have to admit, is a slight scuffing on the sill itself, and some mild frustration at my crumbling agility.  

Citroen C5 X high sill

Oddly, this high sill is rather what you’d expect to find in some low-slung sports car, but the C5 X is no such thing. Indeed Citroën pitches the C5 X as being a relaxing ride rather than an engaging drive, with the focus very much on comfort rather than sporty handling. However, the clever and complex hydropneumatic suspension systems of Citroëns of old – famed for their wafty, comfortable rides – are long gone; my car merely has a conventional springs and dampers setup backed up by hydraulic bump stops, which help to reduce shocks at the limits of the suspension travel. 

The ride initially feels delightfully soft, an illusion enhanced by those pillowy seats and the low levels of noise and vibration filtering through to the interior. There is a nice, floaty, but ably damped, sensation, that gives you the impression that you are in an expensive Rolls-Royce Ghost or a Range Rover or even, yes, an old Citroën. Sleeping policemen and coarse motorway surfaces are despatched with ease.

The only fly occurs when you encounter deep potholes or more everyday road imperfections, which the C5 X relays back, rather disappointingly, just like an ordinary car. These noises and general thumps are fairly well isolated, admittedly, rather like they're happening in the room next door. Yes, there is a paradiddle through your posterior, but it is at least to the sound of a distant drum.

Citroen C5 X in front of older Citroens

I still rate this car highly for ride comfort overall, though. As good as a classic Citroën DS or an XM? Maybe not, but the thoroughly modern C5 X handles better than those older cars, and is much quieter, safer, more responsive, more relaxed, nicer to drive and obviously loaded up with the sort of high-tech kit those old cars could only have dreamed about. Perhaps the truth is that even a clever and nicely cushioned hydraulic bump stop is, when all is said and done, just a bump stop; it can’t hope to match the miracles of a fully hydropneumatic suspension setup. 

Citroen C5 X at fuel pump

Interestingly, the plug-in hybrid version of the C5 X adds active suspension, and I’m told it rides extremely well. It also comes with an official fuel consumption figure of 236.2mpg and the ability to go for up to 31 miles on electric power alone. Officially, my petrol-only C5 X returns an average of 48.6mpg, but my current consumption, according to the car’s digital readout, is 35.7mpg. Still, considering the amount of time my car spends commuting and in traffic generally, this isn’t such a bad return. 

If fuel consumption matters, then, the hybrid might be worth a look. However, it also costs £40,000, or £8000 more than my car, so it seems you might need to do some calculations before choosing which C5 X to buy. 

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