I have been driving a C5 Exclusive 165 HDI Sedan for a couple of months and a couple of thousand kilometres now and these are my thoughts on the car.
Prior to buying a car I have read plenty of reviews available on the car. Most reviewers I have read in the English speaking world are from the UK and Australia. Most of the German speaking reviews I have read are from Germany and Austria. There are two items worth mentioning in regards to the reviews. Firstly I found the German speaking reviews were overall more positive about the car than the English speaking reviews. I am not sure why this is the case.
It might be that in Continental Europe Citroens are a far more common sight then they are in the UK and Australia where Citroens are still somewhat exotic. Secondly I found two long-term reviews about the car among the German speaking reviews done by two car magazines. These reviews generally test car over a period of 1 or 2 years or up to 100,000 km. During this period the car is shared amongst all journalists of the car magazine. Both of these tests are probably the most positive tests you’ll find on the car and both tests state independently that overtime the C5 has become one of the preferred car amongst the editorial when they had to drive some distance and that the C5 had really grown on them over time.
In short I found that most of the issues mentioned in the tests, positive and negative, are true to some extent. Just as they would be true for any other car. The only question is how important are some of the strength or the shortcomings of the car for you.
Here are some things that I found:
I have been driving Swedish and German cars before and these cars feel completely different to the C5. The C5 is really at home on the road, being a long-distance journeys, country roads or urban highways. The entire concept of the car, the quality of the ride, the quietness and overall set up is designed to give you the maximum comfort. Many compare the C5 to the ride of the mostly sportier set ups of the German cars. In my mind this is not really the point.
The point is at the C5 pursues a different concept off driving altogether. All you have to do is to find out is if this concept is for you or not. I have found that although being quiet and comfortable particularly when driving through the countryside the C5 is a very accurate car to drive when it comes to cornering at higher speeds and literally feels like it is driving on tracks. The positive comments on the car’s hydropneumatic suspension system are all on the spot.
When the car is moving in middle speeds and upwards speeds the ride is almost perfect on al level you will only get from far more upmarket limousines. It simply lets you glide over the road. Sometimes smaller and harsher unevenness of the road is felt clearly in the car at lower speeds as the reviews mention. I found that this is sometimes true but is not always the case, however I have not worked out why this is so.
The C5 is a large car. It is often tested in the class off BMW three series, Audi A4s and Mercedes C-class. In reality you will find that the C5 feels much larger internally and externally than the cars it is compared to above. Generally the cabin is very spacious in the front and sufficiently large in the rear. I am 1.85m tall and I am comfortably seated in the car front and rear. However the car appears large when manoeuvring around the city or in carparks. This has partially to do with its large turning circle. In my opinion front and rear parking sensors are a must.
The 163HP Diesel engine is a great engine. It is very quiet and again it is set up to provide the car with the most comfortable and effortless ride. In the city you’ll find that the automatic transmission is set up for running the engine at low revs. Switching to Sports mode helps the car being quicker when accelerating. On highways and country roads the diesel consumes a real life average of 6.5 L. In the inner-city (mostly rush-hour) traffic the diesel consumes between 8-9 L depending how busy the roads are. A start and stop automatic is unfortunately not available.
Most of the negative comments about the car are on the point. However in my experience you can easily live with these shortcomings. The on-board computer and navigation system is not easy to program however once you have set up the car at the beginning you will have no need to ever return into the sub menus. The same is true for the navigation. It does not take me any longer today to plan a route on a smartphone then with a C5’s navigation system. The buttons on the steering wheel and the bottom for the seat heating are not easy to manage at the beginning. It is a matter of getting used to. Now after having driven the car for a while I access all buttons blindly. The steering is slightly vague which is true. This is simply is a setup issue, which supports the idea of the comfortable ride.
Overall I found that the C5 is a great car. The car looks fantastic, interior and exterior, and is probably one of the best designs that is currently on the roads. The quality of the ride is fantastic too. Once you understand what the car is about you will not want to go back. The quality and feel is great. The car feels considered and nothing feels cheap or plasticy. The car comes as complete package with every extra you need. You will not miss anything.
If you are considering a C5 go and test drive it. If you like what you see and feel it’s a car for you. If you don’t like the way the car rides and handles you’ll need to look elsewhere because this is what this car is all about.