New C5: A Testament to French Finesse

Published on December 15th, 2009

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Inside & Out

Every now and then we get lucky, in the sense that we come across a test car that we really like to drive and would love to keep. The new Citroen C5 is a premium executive sedan that we liked very much and would love to keep. The new Citroen C5 was released last year but has only just reached Malaysian shores. From a first glance and impression, it is unmistakably French, through and through.

The Citroen C5 faces the same task that its predecessors had failed to live up to; to successfully face-off and compete with the clear favourites in the premium executive segment such as the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord, as well as to deal with the contenders on the fringes, such as the Mazda 6 and the Volvo S40, just to name a few. In terms of styling, the Citroen C5 is like a ‘breath of fresh air’, as it has somewhat broken away from the trend of ‘Euro-styling’ and made a bold design statement of its own, it is not too loud or outrageous to be an embarrassment, in fact, it could turn out to be a best-seller for Citroen and quite possibly the French automaker’s next top model.

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Citroen has been recognized in the automotive industry for its reputation for innovation and individuality, which is blatantly obvious with the new C5 Exclusive sedan. Every single body part and panel has been beautifully sculpted and even the rear windshield, in the form of a concave rear screen, is an eye-catching exterior feature to those with sharp eyes who do take notice, and the uniquely designed rear screen results in the car having one of the most unique types of C-pillar in its class. The overall visual aesthetic stance of the C5 is both a stunning and an attention grabber. The beautiful, long and curvaceous lines disguise the true dimensions of the C5 rather well, as it is in fact quite a big, long car.

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The C5 is a long car, it is in fact one of the longest in its class, and ends in a rather squared-off rear, where a further example of Citroen quirkiness can be seen in the concave rear windscreen and sloping boot lid. The shape of the screen has two benefits; it seems to clear water better than conventionally shaped windscreens and it allows a larger loading entry to the 439-litre boot, the capacity of which can be increased by folding the rear seats flat.

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The quality of the interior fittings is impressive. The attention to detail taken by the C5’s designers is a clear indication that the design team wanted the interior to be just as impressive as the exterior, providing for a totally satisfying package. The design, levels of quality and comfort inculcated into the interior shows that a lot of thought had gone into the design and manufacture of the interior, as was invested on the exterior.

Equipment levels on this range topping model are more than generous with features such as heated, massaging leather seat for the driver, and a heated leather seat for the front passenger, although in Malaysian weather heated seats are not at all necessary because it is already hot and humid as it is. Citroen’s revolutionary multi-function steering wheel is also a joy to hold, grasp and handle. From a driver’s perspective, it seems as though control of any part of the car is just a mere press of a button away.

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There are some thoughtful touches that add to the C5’s cabin comfort and appeal, such as the door-pocket illumination that activates when a hand reaches in. The instrument cluster is a delightful distraction as it contains three dials with aircraft-style, annular needles, which run around the outside of a central information screen. It looks impressive and classy, especially at night.

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The ride is super smooth and quiet thanks to Citroen’s soundproofing efforts, which include an acoustic windscreen, triple door seals and an improved roof lining, amongst other things, making the cabin well insulated, quiet and free of intrusive noises from the outside environment, making it one of the most relaxing cabins in the executive sedan segment.

Engine & Transmission

Citroen’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder normally-aspirated petrol powerplant is smooth and refined, it is quiet and even when throttled, is hardly audible. It powers the C5 from standstill to motion with 143bhp, together with 200Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. Citroen claims a 0-100 timing of ten seconds but the C5 does not at all feel quick or fast, though it is a pleasure to drive because of how comfortable and classy the cabin is and feels.

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The C5’s 2.0-Litre powerplant is mated to a 4-speed, auto-adaptive gearbox with sequential shift, and to be put simply though how uninspiring the drive may be because of a lack of performance, the C5 moves its occupants classily in both comfort and style, and it is in this context that the C5 truly impresses.

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Ultimate performance may be blunted by the C5’s 1,448kg kerb weight, but it remains refinely smooth and muscular and the slick shifting four-speed auto-adaptive gearbox with sequential shift is appropriately rangy to aid in cruising economy, ideal for long distance travel.

Ride & Handling

Suspension technology and innovation has always been Citroen’s pillar of strength or so to say, and its benchmark, and the C5 remains true to this proud heritage and reputation with its ‘Hydractive 3+’ suspension featuring adjustable springs, damping and ride height. The ‘switchable’ suspension does a good job of meeting different driving needs and surroundings with the softer mode proving to be supple and relaxing when driving around town, and the sports mode providing a firmer and stiffer ride for a more spirited drive when on challenging and engaging roads.

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The C5’s handling is acceptable when traversing through the city on urban roads, though on B-roads handling prowess can be found to be lacking due to a lack of steering feedback. However, one of the C5’s forte’s is that it is a fine, stylishly classy comfortable cruiser, and it nestles occupants in its cabin quite well even on rough and uneven road surfaces, compared to some of the more capable and popular models in its class.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money

The C5 Exclusive’s most likely added popularity will be because of its added comfort features and electronic gizmos, such as automatic lights and wipers, folding door mirrors, electrochromatic rear-view mirror along with front fog lights, with parking sensors all round that are a welcome option especially when parking in tight and narrow spots. The C5 Exclusive takes things a step further but it still does not have satellite-navigation system as standard, which is odd considering the target market it is earmarked for.

Powered door mirrors are standard, as is air-conditioning with pollen filter, front and rear electric windows, and cruise control with speed limiter. This latter item is vital because the C5 has the ability to alter one’s speed perception, making it very easy for one to go faster than one really should.

Where lighting is concerned, the C5 Exclusive lights the road ahead with wrap-around Xenon, dual-functional and directional headlights along with adaptive cornering lights for added safety at night.

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Citroen’s C5 is an enticing package to consider for those who are in the market for a uniquely classy, stylish, comfortable, luxurious, executive sedan. The C5 offers fine value for money especially for the amount of equipment that it has. However it remains to be seen if this latest C5 can change history and hold its value, as French executives have a tendency to depreciate heavily even during the best of times.

Standard safety systems include ABS with EBD, ESP and traction control, seven airbags, including one for the driver’s knees and three ISOFIX anchor points for the outer rear seats and the front passenger seat.

Overall

The Citroen C5 Exclusive sedan is a stylishly classy, diverse yet unique option worth considering even when compared to other more popular models in the premium executive segment, such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Volvo S40, and Mazda 6 as examples. The Citroen C5 has serious potential and promise to succeed in establishing itself as an enticing model in this segment where its predecessors have withered away into obscurity. Those with a desire to stand out from the crowd, will have a liking for the Citroen C5 as its commanding presence and endless list of features and accessories will most definitely make it stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Resale value might be on the down side and the price is rather steep, about RM200k for this 2.0-Litre Exclusive model. However, questions still loom concerning reliability as its predecessors were known to be quite costly to maintain over time and the amount of repairs was one of the reasons for the car’s poor resale value. Whether this would affect the latest C5 remains for time to tell. The money spent on this latest C5 offering from Citroen would be money well spent as it has a lot to offer in terms of comfort, style and technology.

Overall, the new 2009 Citroen C5 is a beautiful French saloon that is one of the most well-equipped models in its segment. It has striking good looks and provides for a comfortable, luxurious ride. This car is highly recommended for those who enjoy the serenity of cruising who prefer not to engage in sporty drives and would not rather push their cars to the limit on the road. Daring to be different? Then get a Citroen C5 Exclusive. We would too if our coffers matched our opinion and taste.

text: Azdee Amir  pix: Dinesh Appavu

Technical Specifications:

Engine Capacity: 1997cc

Engine Layout: Straight Four

Bore/Stroke: 85 x 88mm

Transmission: 4-Speed, Auto-Adaptive Gearbox With Sequential Shift

Suspension:

Front: MacPherson Struts

Rear: Trailing Arm

Brakes: Disc (front and rear)

Fuel Type: Petrol

Fuel Capacity: 66litres

0-100kmh: 10.2 seconds (Manufacturer’s figures)
Top Speed: 207kmh (Manufacturer’s figures)

Power: [email protected]

Torque: [email protected]

Rims & Tyres: 245/45 R18 (Michellin)

Kerb Weight: 1448 kg

Length: 4745 mm

Height: 1476 mm

Width: 1780 mm

Price: About RM200k on-the-road.
Warranty: 3-Year / 100,000km Warranty

Comments

  1. Posted by Henery Schaffer on December 15th, 2009, 15:57

    Nice writing style. I look forward to reading more in the future.

Reply

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