Citroen C5 2005 facelift Road Test

Thu, 14 Oct 2004

If ever there was a case for plastic surgery, it had to be the 2001 model Subaru Impreza. Closely followed by the Citroen C5 hatchback.

The C5 estate always had eye appeal. But the hatchback looked like two entirely different cars that had been cut and shut together. Citroen was so self-conscious of this it even delayed the C5 launch for some last-minute nip and tuckery which merely made the best of a bad job while the stylists at Velizy went to work on a full facelift.

Judge for yourself. The front gives the impression of an Italian speedboat. The rear just a hint of a Maserati. But at least they now look like the front and back of the same car. And some angles are very pleasing.

I’m harping on about this because the looks are the main change. However, there are a lot of other improvements, some extra equipment and some new engines, most significant of which is the one we drove.

This is PSA/Ford’s new 1.6 16v 110bhp diesel, now popping up under the bonnets of Focuses, C-Maxes, Mazda 3s, Peugeot 206s, Peugeot 307s, Peugeot 407s and Citroen’s own Picasso. On top of 50mpg capability, the huge benefits in a business car are low CO2s (under 150g/km) and Euro IV emissions (which collectively pop it in the 15% BIK band). That means that to drive the 1.6HDI 16v LX you’ll be paying tax on £2,339.25 and, for the VTR we drove, tax on £2,489,25.

Now while this 1.6HDI 16v is quite revvy and perky in the 206 GTI HDI 110, it has its work cut out to haul the 1,424kg C5 along. It didn’t even feel as lively as it did in the 407SW. But then turbodiesel engines can vary a lot, especially when they’re new and tight.

Our VTR didn’t handle nearly as well as a 407SW either. But that’s the nature of the car. Though they share the same floorpan, the 407 has steel springs while the C5 sits on Citroen’s Hydractive 3 spheres. The C5 also sticks to sensible profile tyres, none of which are lower than 55. And that means a comfortable ride even on the awful road surfaces we are forced to suffer these days. So for those who cherish ride comfort above anything else, the C5 remains your kind of car.

After BMW’s and Vauxhall’s one-click-wonder column stalks, the C5’s ordinary ones feel just that: ordinary. The driving experience doesn’t shout high-tech at you either. Yet, hidden behind the steering wheel, linked to the cruise control, there’s a new column switch that allows you to limit your speed. So, as long as you actually know what the limit is, you can save yourself having to reply to any NIPs. Sensibly, the limiter can be overridden by flooring the accelerator so it isn’t likely to lead to head-ons while overtaking a truck in a 60 limit.

Another new goodie, this one optional, is Citroen’s Lane Departure knee trembler. The idea of this is to wake you up if you fall asleep while driving and the car starts to drift left or right. Six sensors under the front bumper detect when the car crosses any white lines without the driver signalling while doing more than 50mph. If it picks up any un-indicated wandering, it vibrates either the right or left of the driver’s seat.

Swivelling headlights are also back on the option list. Standard on the Exclusive and optional on the VTR, they follow the steered direction on both full and dipped beam to not only give you a better view, but also ensure your lights don’t shine straight into the eyes of an oncoming driver.

Another extra is front and rear parking sensors that work at below 6mph in 1st or reverse gear. These are linked to the car’s radio/CD speakers and warning beeps come from the speaker closest to the obstacle.

As an alternative to a Mondeo, Mazda 6, Primera, 407, Laguna, Avensis or Vectra, the main advantage of the C5 is superior ride comfort. So there is a distinct reason for choosing it over the others. It’s the only Citroen that is still a real hydropneumatic Citroen.

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