Citroen C5 2.2 HDi

Exclusive

Citroen C5, rear
Citroen C5, side
Citroen C5, front
Citroen C5, interior

FANCY a big, luxurious motor that sits comfortably with all the other executive mobiles on the company car park? Something that's a bit different and with a bit of Gallic charm?

Citroen has something of a chequered history when it comes to big cars. Responsible for such models as the BX and CX and the Xantia, they were never great sellers, with their quirky styling and patchy reliability.

Then along comes the latest C5 which leaves you scratching your head and wondering why it is not more successful.

It is a big, dynamic looking luxurious cruiser with the emphasis on comfort, but still offering frugal diesel engines which are  both refined and powerful.

It is one of those cars you could cruise to the south of France in and not feel the need for frequent stops.

It also offers just about every creature comfort including some real technical wizardry, certainly in its top spec, with all the usual electrial aides, sensors and cameras. Even the cheapest version offers decent equipment.

The highest spec Executve has an executive price at shade under £30,000, which puts it up against some seriously good opposition. But it is something a bit different.

The styling is now far more mainstream, but still retaining French chic and charm, particularly on the interior.

It is a big car with bold styling to the bumpers, 17-inch alloys and, in case, you forget what you're driving the huge double chevrons on the large grille won't be  easily missed.

The inside, particularly on the range topper is simply sumptuous, with a riot of wood and part leather, electrically adjustable seats, soft touch plastic finish, thick carpets mood lighting and a reassuringly well-screwed together feel.

The dash layout, dominated by the central touch screen infotainment system has a typically individual style and the radio is really fiddly. But most major controls feel robust.

One thing which should be a bonus is the fixed multi-function boss on the steering wheel. It seems like a good idea, but if you are one of those that likes to cross hands when turning the steering wheel there is a danger of pinching your fingers between the wheel and the boss. After a few nips, I became wary of it.

Otherwise everything is handily placed.

There is a choice of three diesel units only, a 1.6, 2.0 and 200bhp 2.2-litre. Each are frugal in their own way depending on how much power you want, but the 2.2 engine in this model proved both rapid and with a claimed 47-odd mpg, not that thirsty.

It particularly came into its own on the motorway. The engine pulls effortlessly and overtaking is a breeze at speeds between 50 and 70mph.

There is little evidence of clatter and the well-soundproofed interior keeps the occupants insulated from tyre rumble and wind noise.

As a saloon it is not the most practical of cars, with a decent if not huge boot. But practicality is not really the name of the game with a big cruiser like this. Gobbling up the miles on the motorway is where it is happiest, although it acquits itself well  in and around the town.

Ride and comfort are excellent, but don't expect fantastic handling, its just not that kind of a car. The Hydractive self-levelling suspension on the range-topper gives maximum comfort at all  times, providing you don't go hurling it into corners.

The C5 gains fives stars on the Euro NCAP safety rating and includes all round airbags, power assisted brakes, hill start funtion and electronic stability programme.

If you you want roomy, bordering on luxurious interior and comfortable driving experience with all the creature comforts, the big Citroen is a serious alternative the the main players.

FAST FACTS

Citroen C5 2.2 HDi Exclusive

Price: £29,060

Mechanical: 200bhp, 2,175cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 143mph

0-62mph: 8.3 seconds

Combined MPG: 47.9

Insurance Group: 35

C02 emissions: 155g/km

Bik rating: 26%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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