CITROEN wants a bigger slice of the Aussie car market and is pursuing that ambition with a range of new vehicles coming through the system from now that will (eventually) include electrified passenger cars and light commercials.
But their latest new flagship offering is pure ICE-powered – the seductive looking C5 X ‘crossover’ large passenger car is priced at $57,670 plus on roads. It’s a blend of sedan, wagon, coupe and SUV in styling terms, pretty much everything except a ute rolled into one.
Which seems a touch confusing but Citroen has carried it off well in this classy looking vehicle.
The C5 X ushers in a new, undeniably appealing corporate styling DNA for Citroen that features an aggressive looking front mask with LED lights all round capped off with a new rendition of the Citroen chevron logo.
Regardless of the high ride height, this particular Citroen is hunkered down with a long, low bonnet, sloping screen, tapering roofline to the rear and pumped out guards combining to create a powerful stance.
Citroen wants to tap into a broad market that includes singles, couples and families and C5 X could do the job for the French manufacturer as long as it gets on buyer’s shopping lists. And therein lies the problem for Citroen in Australia… it has minimal profile in the community exacerbated by only 10 dealers across the nation.
No doubt that will be dealt with and there is actually quite a large Citroen ‘car park’ of varying age rumbling around our streets that could be upgraded.
The C5 X leverages other Citroen and Peugeot models for many of its underpinnings starting with the PureTech engine with direct injection and the 8EAT auto transmission.
The 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder sees duty in numerous Peugeot and Citroen vehicles and is good for 133kW and 250Nm of torque while consuming premium unleaded at the claimed rate of 6.0 litres per 100km on the ADR Combined cycle. The engine is calibrated to deliver strong torque low in the operating rev range thereby aiding normal driving.
Dig deeper and you’ll find plenty more shared components in the powertrain and the chassis…
Citroen engineers came up with a different take on suspension damping in C5 X which features double acting shocks (Progressive Hydraulic Cushions) front and rear that push from the top and the bottom for a more comfortable ride.
They put a broad focus on comfort in this car cutting internal noise levels through specially laminated glass and extensive use of noise damping material, not forgetting the “Advanced Comfort Seats” with three layers of foam and ergonomically designed squabs and back rests.
Customisable driver assist technology abounds in the cabin and C5 X is the first Citroen available in Australia with connected services to tap into high-end 3D satnav, accommodation, fuel stations, car parking spaces, traffic bulletins and route selection to name a few.
Only one high spec’ variant will initially be offered here featuring panoramic sunroof, head-up display, heated steering wheel, Pomona leather upholstery, premium audio, dual-zone climate control, 360-degree top down view, individual second row air vents, motorised tailgate, keyless entry and ignition among a plethora of safety and luxury kit.
Of particular note is the proximity locking and unlocking system that recognises the owner’s smart phone signature to perform these, and other functions on approach.
There’s a 12.0-inch multi-function infotainment touchscreen in the middle of the bi-level and stylish dash that sports an unusual grained fascia on the lower level.
Other luxury kit like a phone charger, voice command function, four USB-C ports and rear radar with 70-metre range are included on C5 X as is three years of free internet subscription.
There’s an initial unfamiliarity upon entering the car and sitting in the driver’s seat because Citroen does things differently to other European manufacturers. Once accustomed to the controls (and crayon smell) it’s all good and C5 X is an easy thing to drive.
The seats are indeed comfortable but nothing that I would personally rave about.
Drive selection is by a small toggle, again somewhat different to other makes but still functional and handy paddle shift is fitted to the wheel.
The car makes minimal noise and moves off smoothly and quietly aided by the well calibrated eight speed auto.
It has a decent amount of punch off the line that’s handy from traffic lights and cruising is undertaken with relative ease due to the low rev torque availability. I switched off the idle-stop as I find it intrusive and tardy to restart. Same for the lane keeping assist system…
The brakes are strong and steering is fairly neutral in feel, certainly not sporty/sharp but what would be expected in a car such as this. However, the ride was disappointing as it tends to wallow regardless of which mode is selected. I tried a number of settings and they all felt the same even Sport which felt the same as Normal.
Bump isolation from the soft suspension is good and the C5 X delivers a supple ride on less than smooth roads characterised by that annoying wallowy feel.
It has big 19-inch tyres that provide good grip in the wet and dry with no discernible cabin noise at all. A degree of pitch and roll is evident when you push C5 X along on a winding road and it’s easy to light up the inside front wheel if you push the accelerator too hard coming out of a slow corner. The same happens if you accelerate a touch too hard from a standstill in the wet.
It won’t easily run to redline in Sport mode instead changing up at around 6000rpm. But if you select Manual mode, it will maintain a selected gear.
The small capacity engine is adequate but would benefit from having a back-up electric traction motor as a booster… like the PHEV version. As it stands, engine performance is good and the same can be said of fuel economy unless pushed.
It offers 1600kg braked towing capacity which seems achievable.
The C5 X is a comfortable car to drive and would be totally at home on an interstate run thanks to the soft ride, driver assist tech’ and extensive comfort features including an eight-speaker audio system and electric assistance to many functions.
The C5 X’s styling stops people in the street as it looks like nothing else on the market at the moment, capped off by a striking colour palette and diamond cut alloy wheels. Who knows… with looks like these maybe Citroen will achieve the market cut-through it seeks after all…