Citroen C5 X
Old tradition, new interpretation
Citroën has a rich history when it comes to luxury cars for the business market, and it doesn't want to stop there. However, over the years not only the market has changed, but also the Citroën brand. It has become part of a large group of cooperating car manufacturers. So Citroën must also distinguish itself from competition from within.
That is why Citroën decided to combine a sedan, an estate and an SUV to come up with a completely new type of car. Several brands now offer variations on the SUV, but the C5 X distinguishes itself both with the proportions and the unmistakable style of Citroën. When purely in terms of size, the C5 X is longer than the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and Lexus IS. The Citroen is about 5 cm higher than these sedans and 15 cm lower than a typical SUV. A disadvantage of the unusual bodywork: the visibility in the rear-view mirror is poor.
The special bodywork leads to a special sitting position: the C5 X is high and low at the same time! This is because the high build and high ground clearance make the seat higher than in a traditional sedan. However, the driver and co-driver are flanked by metal up to the shoulders and together with the deep, soft seats, this gives the feeling of a low seat. The seats also deserve a special mention for their fit, their seating position and their many adjustment options.
The higher build also translates into noticeably more space in the back. Even taller adults have plenty of head and legroom. The luggage space, with electric tailgate, is larger than that of an average sedan but smaller than that of an SUV. The atmosphere in the cabin is chic, but at the same time this top model from Citroen is very modest next to the extravagant models from sister brand DS, so that both complement each other perfectly.
As befits a top model, new Citroën technologies make their debut in the C5 X. This is the first model with an extra-large head-up display that projects much more than just speed into the driver's field of vision. The C5 X also displays instructions from the navigation system, data from the audio system and contact details from the telephone. The latest version of the audio, communication and navigation system is set up like a tablet computer. It can be operated by "swiping" (for browsing) and "pinching" (for reducing and enlarging the screen).
Yet there are also things that are missing. In a car that wants to indulge all the senses, a hi-fi system is a must and this is not available. The standard audio system certainly doesn't sound bad (possibly including "pack hifi"), but this is not a hi-fi system that music lovers can fully enjoy. A smart assistant is present, but it listens badly and understands little. It is just a detail: the English voice of the navigation system is blatantly American, which is not half as classy as British. The "perfumer" of a previous generation of Citroëns is sadly lacking.
How the C5 X drives strongly depends on the chosen drive train. Different engines are connected to different chassis. The "PureTech 180" was driven first. This is powered by a traditional petrol engine and is fitted with Citroën's "Advanced Comfort" suspension. Thanks to a combination of fluid and rubber, the shock absorbers react differently to short or long bumps. This gives the C5 X an enormous tranquillity and grandeur, without having to use expensive technology like air suspension. However, it also ensures that this is not a sharply steered or dynamic car; the emphasis is explicitly on tranquillity and comfort.
The petrol engine is standardly connected to an 8-speed automatic gearbox and despite the considerable capacity of 180 hp, it is again noticeable that the emphasis is on quietness. The torque is used for suppleness and much less for decisiveness. Only when the sport mode is selected and the accelerator is firmly pushed to the floor, the C5 X -after a brief hesitation- shows its muscle. On a demanding route consisting of back roads, mountain roads and motorways, the "PureTech 180" consumed 6.4 litres per 100 km.
Although the platform of the C5 X is suitable for full electric propulsion, for the time being only semi-electric propulsion or "plug-in-hybrid" is offered. On a full battery (charged at a public charging point or at home) the test car could travel 40 km, but it is much smarter to enter the destination in the navigation system. Then the electronics use the petrol and electric motor as efficiently as possible to reach the destination and the consumption drops spectacularly. Those who charge regularly can achieve zero consumption. Without charging, the C5 X behaves like a "parallel hybrid" and consumes 5 litres per 100 km (on the same demanding route as the PureTech 180).
In addition to lower consumption, the plug-in hybrid offers even more comfort. Thanks to the electric motor, the car moves effortlessly and in perfect calm. Even at higher speeds, the car can be driven fully electrically and the PureTech 180 driven earlier suddenly seems like a relic. However, the interaction between the petrol and electric engine is not always as harmonious as desired. It is clearly noticeable that the petrol engine is much stronger than the electric motor. For example, the speed can temporarily drop or increase when changing from one power source to the other. Also, the reaction to the accelerator is sometimes more eager than other times and that makes for an uncertain feeling. In short: this calls for a software update!
The plug-in hybrid uses the same special shock absorbers as the C5 X with only a petrol engine, however this time they are electronically adjustable. Sensors continuously measure the movements of the car and adjust the character of the suspension accordingly. This is why the plug-in hybrid is much more comfortable on bad road surfaces. When cornering, the C5 X dives into its springs, but does not tilt like a tall SUV. Irregularities in the road surface or even speed bumps do not require any braking: the C5 X smoothes them over as if they were newly laid asphalt. It is no exaggeration to say that the C5 X is the most comfortable model since the legendary Citroëns with gas-springs.
Is it a good idea to combine a sedan, estate and SUV in one new model? Yes it is! Thanks to its unusual bodywork, the C5 X not only stands out with its looks, but is also more spacious and more functional than average. In addition, the C5 X distinguishes itself from the competition with its interior design.
When asked whether the C5 X is a convincing top model from Citroen, the answer is a convincing "yes". This is thanks to its powertrain and chassis. With the C5 X Citroën dares to make clear choices. This is not a sporty or dynamic car, which is why Citroën could focus entirely on comfort. When opting for a standard petrol engine, the C5 X is already quieter and more relaxing than average. However, the plug-in hybrid goes a step further on all points. The standard C5 X is grand and comfortable, but only the plug-in hybrid gives a feeling of superiority.
- Rich, modern equipment
- Distinctive and functional bodywork
- Comfortable, soothing and de-stressing
- Poor visibility in interior mirror
- Intelligent assistant understands poorly
- Co-operation between petrol and electric engine not always harmonious