Citroen C5 X review | Hemel today

Is the Citroen C5 X a sedan, an SUV or a station wagon?

It sounds like a simple question, but Citroën has mixed things up by building something that combines elements of all three into something quite different.

The French brand’s latest flagship model is an intriguing mix that Citroën says offers the style of a saloon, the practicality of a station wagon and the easy access and higher seating position of a crossover.

Design and interior

Visually, the result is a bit peculiar but in a wonderfully Citroën way. The long, sleek body is reminiscent of a shooting brake, but sits abnormally high on its 19-inch alloys. The photographs may make it look out of proportion, but in the metal the unusual approach is refreshing and the C5 X has a presence that its unloved C5 predecessor never offered.

Despite being Citroën’s big flagship, the C5 X isn’t allowed to compete with genuine premium brands – that’s the territory of sister brand DS. Instead, it’s up against a mix of mainstream D-segment cars like the Skoda Stunning, Mazda6 and volkswagen arteon.

In terms of space, it can more than hold its own in such an enterprise. Drivers of all shapes and sizes have acres of space to get comfortable thanks to the long, wide cab and countless adjustment options. Rear legroom is also very impressive, even for taller adults, although it’s not quite on par with the Skoda Superb. However, at 485 litres, the C5 X PHEV’s boot is on par with the Superb iV saloon and offers a huge, user-friendly load space which, with the rear seats folded down, extends to 1,580 litres. It’s not as spacious as its real rivals – the Superb offers 510 litres, the Mazda 6 has 522 – but is surprisingly close given its less conventional design.

Engine and drive

There are two purely petrol versions of the C5 X – a 1.2-litre and a 1.6-litre, plus the plug-in hybrid we’re testing. This uses the 1.6-litre petrol engine and adds an 81 kW electric motor and 12.4 kWh battery. Combined power is 222 hp, with 184 lb-ft of torque. A 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds is perfectly respectable, if not scintillating, but the strength of the hybrid system is in the way it distributes power. Drive like a madman and you may provoke some indecision from the eight-speed auto, but drive sensibly and the transition between EV, hybrid and petrol power is virtually undetectable, with the engine note reduced to almost silence.

Official figures put the C5 X’s fuel mileage at between 186 and 236 mpg, which isn’t achievable for many (none) people in the real world, but the battery offers almost 30 miles of range just for the electric vehicles for shorter journeys and if used wisely the economy is still impressive for such a big car. On a 500 mile round trip with start and mid-point charging stops, we saw 55 mpg.

It helps that the C5 X doesn’t scream for being driven hard. The Advanced Comfort suspension has been updated for this car and offers a better balance between comfort and control than ever before. PHEVs even get adaptive dampers that respond to different driving modes, but that’s no dynamic revelation and the focus is still clearly on the comfort side of the equation.

It’s best to forget about trying to shave seconds off your journey by cruising the roads and instead just enjoy the unparalleled comfort on offer. There really isn’t anything else at even twice the price that offers the same level of ride quality on virtually any road surface.

This matches the overall refinement of the cabin which, thanks to acoustic glass and plenty of sound deadening, is as quiet as many larger premium cars. Add the large supportive seats with their multi-density foam construction and you have an absolutely brilliant long distance cruiser.

The cabin also shines with high-quality materials and clever design touches. The center console is the standard Stellantis console with metallic-look knurled gloss black plastic controls, but elsewhere the dash and door surfaces are soft to the touch, there’s a neat chevron stitch to the upholstery in perforated leather and an attractively patterned wood inlay.

Prices and specifications

The C5 X range starts at £27,790 but our Shine Plus PHEV came in at just over £41,000 with options. As befits a premium version of the flagship model, it’s packed with amenities – from heated and cooled massage seats and auto-immersing LED lights to a 12-inch touchscreen with connected services and adaptive cruise control. as part of a driver-laden suite of assistance systems. As an alternative to a large SUV, it appears to be good value for money, especially considering the running cost benefits of its lower, lighter and more aerodynamic construction.

Verdict

The C5 X is another car in the purest tradition of big Citroëns. It brings an effortless driving experience, great refinement and exceptional comfort, all wrapped up in an individual look with a certain je ne sais quoi that sets it apart from its rivals.

Citroen C5 X Shine Plus PHEV

Price: £39,960 (£41,760 as tested); Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol with 81 kW electric motor; Power: 222 hp; Couple : 184 lb ft; Transmission: Eight-speed automatic; Top speed: 145mph; 0-62mph: 7.9 seconds; Economy: 186.2-236.2 mpg; CO2 emissions: 30g/km; EV range: 34.2-38.5 miles

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