Citroën C5 X long-term test

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 with Mark

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 5905 Price £32,160 Target price £29,982 Price as tested £31,930 Official economy 48.6mpg Test economy 37.6mpg Dealer value now £26,000 Private value now £23,110 Total running costs (excl. depreciation) £530.83

9 March 2023 – A whole new world

When I was a kid, back in the days before penicillin, Citroën cars were viewed in this country with deep suspicion. They were seen as quirky, complex and insidiously left-field, bought only by wild-eyed motoring enthusiasts or intellectual liberals. Owning one, though, meant owners could hug themselves knowing they belonged to a rather elite club.

As the years went by Citroëns became mainstream, of course, and so did the British public. So when I first set my eyes on the Citroën C5 X last year I knew I had to have one. It seemed to me to combine all that’s best about a modern Citroën with something of the style, comfort and rational zeal of an old one.

Citroen C5 X and a magic carpet

By and large, I was right. Over the course of more than 3000 miles, I grew to really admire my C5 X for its outstanding comfort, wonderful practicality and impressive refinement. I have the opinions of many others to back up my view that this sure is one stylish-looking car.

It also successfully offered what all Citroëns used to: a 'magic carpet' ride. This, in combination with one of the most comfortable driver’s seats I’ve tried in a long while, and the low levels of noise and vibration that made their way into the interior, really did make journeys long or short a pleasure.

You see, most speed humps and the like were dispatched with ease, and, although it could occasionally be caught out by badly rutted roads and deep potholes, I still rank this as one of the best-riding cars in the estate car class.

Citroen C5 X over the shoulder shot

Its interior, while not as avant-garde as the exterior, was impressive for its logical layout and the use of some very plush-feeling materials. The seats were soft leather, the steering wheel good to look at and touch, and the electric multi-adjustable driving position top-notch. The infotainment system was reasonably quick to respond and, once learned, intuitive to use, and I liked the fact it had physical knobs and buttons for changing the air-con temperature.

The C5 X was also spacious, with plenty of room both up front and in the rear for the tallest, and a generously sized and easily accessible boot. 

There were of course a few flies in the ointment. That relatively weeny 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine under the bonnet had plenty of punch but there was occasionally a bit of a lag in the gearbox, so there could be an annoying wait between putting your foot down and moving off. My overall fuel consumption figure of 37.6mpg was perhaps a little average, too, and I could have done with a rear wiper on a few occasions (no version of the C5 X offers one). 

Citroen C5 X oil pressure warning light

On top of that, my mobile phone became disconnected from the car rather too often, and I had a few warning lights appear, only to disappear when the car had been turned off and on again. One warning told me I had a brake failure, and another put the car into 'limp home' mode with an alleged oil-pressure failure, although all was well on restarting.

My keyless entry began to work only about 50% of the time too, and this preceded a total failure of the battery in the car key, which left me stranded in a supermarket car park awaiting a breakdown service to come and fix it. 

Citroen C5 X with Citroen DS

However, none of that could put me off my C5 X. I liked its individuality and I liked that not even Citroën seems quite sure whether it’s a hatchback, an estate, an SUV – or something in between (it’s an estate, we think, because it doesn’t have a rear sill, but it’s a raised-up estate with some SUV-style cladding about its nether regions).

Whatever it is, it has something of the essence of those lovely Citroëns of old, even if it probably has as much DNA in common with a 1955 Citroën DS as I do. However, I do now know that a Citroën is definitely not something to be viewed with suspicion. 

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