Citroen C5 2007 HDi 173 Road Test

Thu, 24 May 2007

This Citroen C5 is a very privileged car. Because after the C6 it’s the first to get PSA/Ford’s fantastic 2.2 twin-turbo 173PS diesel engine coupled up to the Aisin Warner 6-speed automatic transmission.

The engine was brilliant when I drove it in a 407 manual last year, and does sterling service with less power and more torque in the LandRover Freelander II (also now available with the same AW 6-speed automatic). But it will be next year before you’ll find it and the 6-speed auto under the bonnet of the new Mondeo.

I knew what to expect of the engine. But not the transmission. First acquaintance was not good. No paddleshifts. And a wrong way round ‘Tiptronic’ type shifter. So I simply left it in drive, as most drivers will. And very quickly discovered that it didn’t need paddleshifts.

The combination of engine and transmission is seemingly ideally matched, like the Zafira CDTI 120 6-speed auto. But a lot smoother, and a lot quicker.

Like the 407 2.2 173, this C5 is a very rapid car. It doesn’t pretend to be a sportscar (this was a luxurious estate). And Citroen has compromised in favour of comfort, quietness, fuel economy and tyre life by fitting 215/55 R16 Michelin Pilot Primacys. Yet it’s still gets a move on with a seemingly total lack of effort.

It also smothers speed humps, either by completely straddling the nasty metre wide spring-breakers or absorbing the road wide flat-tops.

Citroen’s excellent cruise control works brilliantly, stepping the speed up in 1mph increments, or a lot more if you hold the button. And the easy-to-use speed limiter is very handy on those long straight stretches pointlessly limited to 30 where camera vans are prone to lurk.

This particular car also happened to come with the latest hard disc RD4 satnav shared by Citroen and Peugeot that instead of predictively searching for town names at every letter you key in, gets straight on with it and offers a nice zoomable birdview map with pleasing graphics.

There are C5 trim levels with the new 2.2 diesel engine, both offered with 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmissions and hatchback or estate bodies.

The VTX is a ‘fleet special’ combining low list price with lowish CO2 to keep BIK tax down, yet still offering the comfort and effortless performance that anyone pounding the motorways is bound to covet.

The Exclusive is top spec and very luxurious. You sink into the plush seats that also seem to support you in all the right places. I did quite well in the juice as well, averaging 39.75mpg over 207.5 miles.

The C5 has actually been with us for quite a long time, since 2001, but the 2005 facelift and this new engine and transmission bring it bang up to date and keep it competitive against the new Mondeo, Passat, 407, Vectra and, I guess, the forthcoming new Laguna.

I was sad to see it go.

Previous Citroen C5 tests:-

2005 Facelift C5 1.6HDI:

2001 Original C5 Estate:

2001 Original C5 Range:

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