Citroen C5 (2008) Review

By: Guy Allen

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2008 Citroen C5 2008 Citroen C5 2008 Citroen C5
2008 Citroen C5 2008 Citroen C5 2008 Citroen C5
2008 Citroen C5 2008 Citroen C5 2008 Citroen C5
2008 Citroen C5 2008 Citroen C5 2008 Citroen C5
2008 Citroen C5 2008 Citroen C5 2008 Citroen C5

Citroen C5. Svelte new look gives French mid-sizer a fresh start Down Under.

Citroen C5 (2008) Review
2008 Citroen C5

 

2008 Citroen C5

Citroen has been struggling locally and is pinning a lot of its future hopes on the success of the new-gen C5, which shares little other than a name with its predecessor. By some accounts, the old model won't be missed, having built up a reputation for being a bit of a cardigan car and expensive to keep on the road.

For a start, the firm has ditched petrol engines from the local range - it's all diesel for the C5, with the V6 offering a pleasing rumble as it winds on the respectable mid-range. It's no rocketship, mind, but there's plenty of go on tap to make a decent winding road entertaining. The powerplant is the PSA or Ford bi-turbo 2.7-litre V6, claiming 150kW and 440Nm, punting 1765kg of French tourer.

Shifting is supplied by a six-speed auto with normal and sport modes, plus a semi-manual option, via the centre console. There's no steering wheel paddle option.

The C5 is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor, with the wheelbase lengthened to improve the ride and allow more cabin space.

There's the full range of chassis acronyms, including ABS, EBA, ESP and EBD, covering anti-lock and traction control functions.

Citroen's designers have flung the hatchback configuration as too suburban and dowdy, in favour of a four-door with boot. A twist is it comes with the unique deeply convex leading edge on the lid, which brand C claims offers a larger than normal luggage entry.

You get the full luxo pack with the V6, called the Exclusive, which starts at $62,990. Inside, it's full leather with nine airbags hidden under the trim, plus a host of creature comforts, including heated front seats and a massager for the driver. It can be a somewhat weird experience, particularly if you (as I did) switch the massage on by accident. For a minute there it felt as though aliens had invaded the upholstery!

Cruise control, adaptive headlights and a premium CD sound system are in the package, with the latter including jacks for MP3 players. There's a satnav option, which includes a 10 gig hard drive for storing your favourite playlists and podcasts.

Riding on 18-inch wheels (there's an optional 19-inch set) the C5 includes three modes for the suspension, ranging from touring through to sport, controlling the hydro-pneumatic system.

There's no doubt you're well cosseted in the cabin, which feels tight and well put together, though one of our test cars managed to develop a minor rattle in the dash after a session across some fairly rough roads on the way to NSW's Hunter Valley. To its credit, it deals well with the dodgy surfaces, isolating the passengers from the worst of the rough, though occasionally you'll find it overwhelmed and hitting a very firm set of bump stops.

Set on full soft, the suspension allows the car to roll a little more than ideal for twisty roads, but this can be firmed up to give a more controlled attitude. The soft option is definitely for freeway driving.

Steering can feel a little remote and the one glaring concession to the company's traditional quirky approach to design is the fixed centre hub for the wheel. Some folk like it, but others hate it. If nothing else, it's a reminder that you are in command of something a little different.

Handling is surprisingly good for a vehicle that gives the impression of being set up more as a grand tourer than a sports car. The V6 version, with the heavier powerplant (there's also a 2.0-litre four on offer), shows a strong tendency towards understeer on corner entry, though it's quite controllable and doesn't show up any nasty surprises.

The V6 is lively enough to test the levels of adhesion and provides a strong, linear, seam of thrust up to licence-losing speeds and beyond. It claims 8.5 litres/100km - a little optimistic perhaps, unless you're driving gently.

A real advance is how the car looks in the metal. It's less 'dumpy' in profile than its predecessor and shapes up as an elegant and surprisingly big machine.

As one of the key models to revive the marque's local sales, Citroen Australia is hoping to see 400 sold for the balance of this year and 1100 in 2009. Several versions will ultimately be in the showrooms, including two levels of trim for the four-cylinder version (diesel only) plus wagons for both powerplants.

All up, the C5 comes across as a comfortable and well-fitted cruiser with a few quirks and extras to remind you of the European roots. And, in V6 form, it's entertaining enough on a back road.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

2008 Citroen C5

BODY: four-door sedan

WEIGHT: 1765kg

DRIVETRAIN: front, front wheel drive

ENGINE: 2.7-litre bi-turbo V6 diesel

POWER/TORQUE: 150kW / 440Nm

TRANSMISSION: six-speed automatic

PRICE: $62,990 (4-cyl starts at $49,990)

 

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