UK Car Road Test

Citroen C5 2001

 Movie Clips of this Car

Exterior Movie Interior Movie

 


You may love them, you may hate them but most of you could not deny the dramatic and stylish lines of the big Citroen cars of the last 40 years. So, following along in the true Citroen lines of dramatic and big (make that very big), hi tech, advanced, cutting edge saloons we have this - the C5.

Now, if it was a DS or a CX or (my favourite) the XM we would have a thousand pictures of the exterior taken from all sorts of angles just to emphasis the true beauty of the classic, long tailed, short arsed Citroen lines.

But this is a C5 so let's just say we will keep the exterior pictures to a minimum and play lookalikes instead!

The Incredible BULK The Incredible HULK

Both Big. Both Green. Both Ugly. 

Whilst admitting to liking the lines of the big Citroens, I have to say that I thought the Xantia lines to be okay too, if not exactly inspiring. So, when the C5 was announced as a replacement for the ageing XM and Xantia ranges, I was expecting something spectacular. And what did we get?

 It looks like someone has taken an inflatable Xantia and doubled the required air pressure, leaving behind this strange and bulbous beast with more than a hint of MPV to its bloated looks.

Frankly, I think it's a real shame that this is probably one of the ugliest cars in its class because it has many other excellent attributes although, judging by the size of the prominent front logo, Citroen designers seem pretty proud of the thing.

It's a shame that this is not the leather clad executive version but down in the slums of the SX and LX level you won't be too disappointed. The velour seats are large and luxurious and though the dash is rather messy and uninspired, the centre console and gear stick treatment  is pretty good.

The grey velour is suitably restrained and the two tone grey effect with the expanse of central silver helps to maintain the light and airy effect but much of this is also down to the massive amounts of glass engineered into the body

All in all, it's very restrained and lacks the oddball Citroen features that defined their older cars. Citroen lovers will probably hate it; a larger number of Ford, Vauxhall,  blah blah buyers will not be put off by it and that's probably a key design goal.

Let's play spot the chevron.

Note a subtle hint of chevron in the console, hazard switch and steering wheel.

 

The C5 is pretty well loaded with all the usual gadgets plus a few extra ones just to show how clever they are like rain sensitive wipers (not that I ever had any trouble  flicking wipers on and off ).

Comfort Features
Adjustable Steering Column
Adjustable Steering Column
Cup holders
Cup holders
Electric Height Adjusting Drivers Seat
Electric Height Adjusting Drivers Seat
Head Rests (front & rear)
Head Rests (front & rear)
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Pollen Filter
Pollen Filter
Split rear seats
Split rear seats
Time Clock
Time Clock
Velour Trim
Velour Trim
General Features
Rear Wash Wipe
Rear Wash Wipe
Roof Rails
Roof Rails
Luxury Features
Air Conditioning
Air Conditioning
Courtesy Light Delay
Courtesy Light Delay
Cruise Control
Cruise Control
Electric Mirrors
Electric Mirrors
Electric Windows front
Electric Windows front
Heated Mirrors
Heated Mirrors
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror
Radio Cass Remote
Radio Cass Remote
Radio CD Player
Radio CD Player

There are almost as many bins and nets as in your average MPV which, for me, is a good enough reason NOT to buy a multi-seater mini bus thingy.  

Novel badge placement

Trip computer simple 
but functional

Big old lamp covers the size of a bay window but
please dont crack one 

Neat hazard button

Steer/Susp/Tech Features
External Temperature Gauge Fitted
External Temperature Gauge Fitted
Front Fog lamps fitted
Front Fog lamps fitted
Power Assisted Steering
Power Assisted Steering
Rain Sensitive Wipers
Rain Sensitive Wipers
Wheel Covers
Wheel Covers

 

 

On paper, the HDi puts in an admirable performance considering it's dragging over 1,400 kilos of car along with it. This is the automatic version and, despite the box's excellent performance, it will still knock a couple of points off those figures. 

So it's no sprinter and that's to be expected, I guess but the combination of ride smoothness and big car  feel and actuality means that it feels even slower than it actually is. You do tend to push the HDi along quite hard with only the speedo reminding you that you may be breaking the law when you actually feel like you're crawling.

The old XM had a pre HDi 2.5 litre diesel and that felt more suited to lazing a big motor along. The 2.0 Hdi feels a bit small and weak in this guise and the 90bhp model feels possibly even worse.

The HDi is not a bad motor but it's a bit stretched here and has to work hard to keep the motor moving swiftly about.

Economy is, as you can see, rather good with 50+mpg easily attainable on motorways and long trips. Even a steady 40mpg average is not beyond the wit of the hardest of right feet so long as the traffic is not too heavy.

Service Interval Insurance Group Safety Rating Smog Rating
10000 9 Band (A)
Engine BHP CC Fuel Inj.
Turbo Diesel 4 Cylinder 110 1997 No
Cyl Camshafts Valves/cyl Compressor
4 Single 2 Turbo Charger
Top Speed 0 to 60 BHP per Tonne
116mph 11.6seconds 77
MPG@Urban MPG@Cruise MPG@Speed Fuel Type
37.2mpg 61.4mpg 49.6mpg Diesel
Kerb Weight Tow Weight Length Width Height
1438kg 1500kg 476cm 210cm 152cm
Boot Seats/up Boot Seats/Down Seats
563 Litres 1658 Litres 5

The gearbox is automatic and not a bad effort with its tiptronic style up-down left side of the gate and snow mode first gear cut off and sports switch. The sports switch probably works better in the longer revving petrol models and has very little noticeable effect in diesel guise.

Changes are smooth up and down the box though it can get rather confused by an insensitive foot. Watching the LED display the current gear reminds you that the engine is a little undersized by its reluctance to change into top until well into the mid thirties.

The brushed alloy knob is nicely shaped and the tiptronic mode works really well with its sequential gate - just like a rally car, only in slow motion.

Unlike the XM, the car bears a proper hand brake which probably means it was designed for a manual box.

 

Okay, so it looks a bugger and needs at least 150bhp to make it perform with gusto but it's a big Volvo-swallowing estate so you expect that and you also expect it to handle like a motorised jellyfish.

But you would be so wrong!   

Riding along the straights and over the bumps you are treated to Citroen's unique feather bed ride but enter the first corner and your brain is confused by the lack of body  roll. So you go round another corner but this time tighter and faster and still no roll. Try again,  fast and tight as you dare and your bum slips across the seat shoved along by the G-force but still the car resolutely refuses to roll. Ah, the wonders of  the active suspension! Technically it does roll but hydraulic rams push it back up straight. No matter how many corners or how many bumps, the car's computer maintains a level of body control that would put your average GTI to shame and yet still retains that magic carpet ride.  Underneath it's a modification of the time-honoured Citroen hydropneumatic concept taken to its logical conclusion.

At first it appears to have lost the ride height adjuster but it's now just a pair of buttons as opposed to a lever. So you can still jack it up for ploughed fields and wheel changes but what is the use of the bottom-out setting? With its fully cut out arches it probably won't even defeat the wheel clampers now.

Brakes are fully powered of course and each successive generation seems to be more controllable than the last.  Gone are the days of the brake being little more than an on/off switch.

The pump also supplies the steering and that is light and responsive without being totally feelingless to the user. Neither is it ultra sharp although that's probably pretty much in line with the C5's role in life. If we ever see a sporting version of the C5 then I will eat my proverbial hat.

Sharpness around the bends is pretty much limited by the wheel base and slip resistance of its tyres rather than its suspension. Tall alloys with rubber band tyres would look cool on most cars but would be well out of place here although the plastic wheel trims are perhaps a bit too conservative.

Shiny gear shift 

 

You really cannot imagine much getting in the way of this lumbering battle tank with its ex-NATO camouflage green paint.  If you do happen to impact a lorry or a jeep you will bounce off the obligatory twin air bags.

The curvy nose is probably quite pedestrian-friendly if you find pedestrian safety to be a big selling point.

Air bag is the usual style killer

It's well catered for on the security front -  Citroen probably did this thinking its new beauty was going to be a huge seller. As it is, it's just plain huge and they could probably have saved a few bob by stripping it out (if looks alone attracted car thieves they could probably leave off the door locks as well).

Safety/Security Features
Alarm
Alarm
Antilock Braking System
Antilock Braking System
Child Locks
Child Locks
Deadlocks
Deadlocks
Engine Immobiliser
Engine Immobiliser
Front Twin Airbags
Front Twin Airbags
Heated Front Windscreen
Heated Front Windscreen
High level brake Light
High level brake Light
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Remote Central Locking
Remote Central Locking
Side Impact Protection
Side Impact Protection

When winter is on the doorstep, the front and rear fog lamps, heated rear window, front screen and door mirrors start to look as attractive as the little chrome-surrounded snow switch. 

 

Cost New 17050    Residual @ 3 years N/A
Produced from  Apr 1 2001 to Jun 1 2002

Now, the old  Xantia was pretty huge in the estate space department but check out the Tranny van-challenging unencumbered space. If a big estate is your bag then you really are not going to complain about this one.

Seating space is equally huge and will contain five of the lardiest adults imaginable.

luggage cover would make a good tent.
Split rear seats hardly needed

Remote ice controller 
keeps hands on the wheel

For general driving the seat is high and, with loads of glass around you, you get a majestic view of the surrounding scenery except that  the obligatory wide pillars and heavily sloping screen create blind spots around the 45 degree mark. The car is simple and easy to drive despite its size and even the various tuneful bongs, dings and twinkles from the dash's audible warning system don't grate to much.

As a huge load lugger it would do the job with distinction. 1,658 litres of heavy junk could find its way into the rear and, no matter what the weight, the suspension's built-in self leveller would simply pick the tailpipe out of the dust and rebalance the car. It's amazing how many big estates don't self level and are only half full when the suspension hits the stops.

The C5 tries to kill two birds with one stone by replacing the middle-of-the-road  family-embracing Xantia and the exotic executive cruiser XM in one go. One car to fill two needs.

This may suit you if you need a bigger Xantia or a down market XM but for me it is neither fish nor fowl. It seems overly large and bloated for most mid range buyers' needs and just plain lacks the style, flair and image of the XM with its watered down styling.

 

Still ugly 
no matter what we do


 

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UK Car Road Test Citroen C5 2001

UK Car Road Test Keywords: Estate DieselC5