Citroen C5 (2008 – 2016) Review

Citroen C5 (2008 – 2016) At A Glance


+Very comfortable, fantastic all-speed refinement, lots of interior space, well equipped from mid-range upwards.

-Terminally uninteresting, dynamically soggy, patchy interior quality, confusing dashboard, no hatchback option.

Insurance Groups are between 20–35
On average it achieves 88% of the official MPG figure

Before Citroen stumbled upon a new way of making its cars interesting in the form of bubbly plastic side panels, the C5 was typical of its approach. Comfy, spacious, and slightly baffling. This second generation model, launched in 2007, is at least more interesting than original C5, which appeared to have been styled by stretching out a Citroen Xantia with a giant rolling pin.

Indeed, this C5’s exterior look is a strong point, with its sharp-yet-slightly-bulbous styling sitting nicely on the fine line between challenging and handsome.

In the cabin it’s not so successful however, with a dashboard typical of Citroen’s often confusing approach to layout. There are buttons, dials, switches and displays of various shapes, sizes and colours all over the place. Even the steering wheel is a novelty itself, with a fixed central boss and a rim design that bizarrely seems to encourage ‘eight and four o’clock’ hand placement.

In market that often trades outright comfort for a sense of ‘sportiness’, the C5 unashamedly does nothing of the sort. It’s as softly sprung and quiet as many a luxury car. If you weren’t staring at two static chevrons on the steering wheel, you’d swear you were in something a lot more expensive and infinitely more German.

That means that while it’s not the most engaging car to drive – positively lacklustre at any sort of pace, in fact – it’s probably the most comfortable car in its price bracket to tackle a long motorway run with.

Towards the end of its life the C5 became well equipped across the range, with all models getting air conditioning, cruise control, electric windows all round, electric mirrors and Isofix for child seats.

It wasn’t always the case though, with Citroen progressively adding more specification in mid-level cars in a bid to make the ageing C5 more attractive. The base spec SX car comes wth plastic wheel trims, which in this class is shameful. VTR and VTR+ add alloy wheels, sports seats, front fog lights and fancier interior trim, while the Exclusive specification throws everything at it, including navigation, part-leather upholstery, parking sensors and electric seats.

Real MPG average for a Citroen C5 (2008 – 2016)


Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

22–62 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

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Ask Honest John

Is buying an electric car for commuting realistic at the moment?
"My daily commute is a 180-mile round trip on a variety of motorway sections, roundabout filled dual carriage ways and B roads. I currently drive a 2009 Citroen C5 diesel automatic. Tax is a whacking £350 and fuel is costing me an average of 15p a mile with 30k miles p/a. I am 6'4'' with a grumpy back and have found the C5 very comfortable to drive. Plus, the automatic is much less tiring than my previous manual car. I would like to get running costs down. Is it worth buying a modern car and is an electric car even realistic? I live on a terrace street with no charging points but do have the potential to charge an electric car at work. I also travel abroad regularly so an electric option would need to be happy sitting in the airport car park for several weeks at a time. I am not in a position to spend tens of thousands on a new car. I have investigated lease deals on various new/nearly new modern diesels as well as some hybrids. However excess millage costs that I would incur make this an unrealistic option. Also if I were to buy a newer car, in the back of my mind is its actual value with 2035 not too far off."
Electric cars make sense for a lot of people. However, with no home charging available and regular trips abroad, you'd have to be really dedicated to running an electric car for 30k a year. We'd recommend sticking with a modern diesel for your mileage. No matter which route you go down, any car's going to depreciate rapidly if you add 30k a year (hence high lease costs). The only way to avoid this is to run an older model like your C5 but, as you're probably finding, that'll result in higher maintenance costs. I'd look for a frugal diesel like a modern Skoda Octavia, Kia Ceed or Ford Focus. You could consider a hybrid but fuel costs will be expensive - hybrids are at their best around town.
Answered by Andrew Brady
What's the right engine oil for my car?
"What's the right engine oil for a 2009 Citroen C5 2.0-litre petrol? There are so many brands and so many different types of 5/30 and 5/40 oils but which is the right one?"
Your oil should be 5W/40 synthetic (5 litres with filter change). As for the brand any of the major brands would suffice (Castrol, Mobil, Shell) it is a matter of choice and cost.
Answered by Alan Ross
I've just bought a secondhand engine off eBay - what would you suggest needs replacing?
"I have just purchased a secondhand Citroen C5 engine from eBay with 73,000 miles on the clock. Apart from a new cambelt, would you recommend anything else needs replacing at this stage?"
Waterpump, tensioner and alternator belt. Good idea also to take the sump pan off and check the sump oil strainer because if that's clogged up with sludge the engine won't last long.
Answered by Honest John
What's the most comfortable car you could recommend?
"I'm 69 with arthritis and sensitivity to vibration. I need a very comfortable ride/seat with a high seating position. My comfort standard is a Citroen XM. Is there anything at all that comes close?"
You could try a Citroen C5 with Hydractiv 3 suspension that is like driving a mattress (they don't all have Hydractiv 3). But I was noticeably very comfortable indeed in a 2007 Honda C-RV that I ran in 2007. Big, soft seats. Big 18-inch wheels. And I think 60 profile tyres.
Answered by Honest John
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