Citroën’s C5 X offers executive car individualism

Citroen C5 X (Citroen)

Citroen C5 X (Citroen)

Citroën was once the supplier of big, forward-thinking sedans like the beak-nosed DS and the flying saucer-shaped CX, but lately it’s focused on mainstream sedans and the inevitable sports utility vehicles.

She clearly thinks that not everyone who buys a large sedan is a corporate pusher looking for something chiseled and Germanic, and hopes to fill that niche with the C5 X, a large five-door with an altogether more Gallic, whose dynamics and fittings are intended for comfort rather than blasting rounded corners.

Its name badge, clearly an amalgamation of CX and C5, two model names for large old Citroëns with comfort features, is another clue to where this car came from, although as if to prove that the C5 X is suitable for modern driving tastes, its manufacturer claims the car looks like a sedan, has the space of a station wagon and the driving position of a sport utility.

We’ve driven a plug-in hybrid version in ‘Shine Plus’ guise, which basically means it’s weighed down by an endless list of features and kit.

soft center

The styling of the car, with its slit-like front lights, is a bit fussy in places, but the C5 X looks pretty good, and no one will mistake it for an Audi.

Citroen C5 X (Citroen)

Citroen C5 X (Citroen)

The spacious interior includes large leather-trimmed seats that are plush and comfortable. There’s plenty of legroom and shoulder room in the rear, although headroom for taller passengers is decent rather than brilliant. There are decent-sized storage bins and a substantial 485-litre boot (1,500 liters with the rear seats folded down). The non-hybrid C5 Xs, which are powered by 1.2 or 1.6 petrol engines, have even larger luggage compartments because the hybrid’s extra batteries are located under the floor of the compartment.

Drivers will find a useful amount of seat adjustment to sit comfortably. Controls are the usual mix of touchscreen and buttons. These are quite simple and intuitive to use.

Refined and precise

Citroën has long since ditched its famous self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension and uses conventional steel springs, but has electronically controlled adaptive dampers, with ‘comfort’, ‘normal’ and ‘sport’ settings. These truly offer a blend of serene ride qualities and surprisingly precise handling.

Citroen C5 X (Citroen)

Citroen C5 X (Citroen)

Roll into a corner and the car doesn’t lean excessively or slouch, and its steering, which is light on the fingers and thumb, is precise and commendable. That’s not what you’d say about most of the C5 X’s larger sport utility rivals.

The car uses an eight-speed automatic transmission, which some road testers found to be a bit jerky in the C5 X hybrids, but I found little to complain about.

Petrol and electric

The 1.6 petrol engine is sometimes a little noisy when worked hard, but generally carries out its activities without problems. When working with the electric motor, the car provides thrust acceleration in the back.

Citroen C5 X (Citroen)

Citroen C5 X (Citroen)

It can run in electric-only mode, when the car becomes nearly silent as it moves forward, and has a battery range of 34 miles.

This is a civilized, well-made niche car with plenty of room for people and their belongings, comfortable and engaging to drive. Whether these qualities will keep it from being overlooked by those who think a modern family car should look like a 4×4 remains to be seen.

Facts

Citroen C5 X plug-in hybrid 225 e-EAT 8 Shine Plus

Price: from £39,960

Top speed: 145mph

Combined MPG: 186 miles

CO2 emissions: 30g/km

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