New prince of Wales

The Citroen C5 takes French style into the Bri­tish heart­land, writes BRUCEMcMAHON

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

THOSE Lon­don­ers are a strange mob of cat­tle. So many im­por­tant peo­ple rush­ing from some­place here to some­where there.

Much life is lived un­der­ground, pop­ping up from rail tun­nels to dis­cover an­other an­cient mon­u­ment and miles upon miles of fancy shops.

The in­ner-city is all sum­mer sparkling clean, yet with­out the buzz of pre­vi­ous decades.

The ring of sub­urbs be­yond is tum­ble­down and grubby.

Among the city’s con­fu­sions is that cars drive on the left, as at home, but es­ca­la­tor rid­ers are asked to stand right. Sim­ple enough per­haps, but this cre­ates foot­path con­fu­sion amid the madding crowds.

Best then to head coun­try­side, to Strat­ford-on-Avon and down to Aber­gavenny in Wales to re­dis­cover old work­places and such.

For this jaunt the new Citroen C5 is a rec­om­mended trav­el­ling part­ner, a most sen­si­ble Euro­pean ma­chine with airs of dis­tinc­tion.

The deep-red sedan is a C5 2.0 HDi VTR+ with six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, 101kW of diesel power and the only car to win five stars for adult oc­cu­pant pro­tec­tion in Euro NCAP crash tests.

In Bri­tain this model is priced at $42,000. Aus­tralians should see the new C5 — with 2-litre petrol, 2-litre and V6 diesel op­tions— in Septem­ber, with prices start­ing in the low $40,000s.

It runs for 450km over a week of mo­tor­ways (at speed), B-roads (with care and sus­pen­sion set to sport) and down rough and nar­row lanes (with Hy­drac­tive sus­pen­sion set on high and park­ing sen­sors go­ing berserk — must have been the badgers in the hedgerows).

All the while the C5 is a most com­fort­able con­veyance, with many but­tons for ad­just­ing all man­ner of things from stereo to air­con­di­tion­ing and an au­to­matic park brake.

Over the week the hand­some C5 av­er­ages 50km/h and an econ­omy of 6.3 litres/100km, much ap­pre­ci­ated with English diesel about $3 a litre.

The Citroen turns heads with a bold­ness that in­cludes a con­cave rear win­dow, sub­tle strips of chrome and stand-out wheels.

It has a solid feel, down to elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, with trac­tion con­trol for the front wheels.

It is also most spa­cious — plenty of head and leg room for four adults plus lug­gage — and runs ev­ery­where with only the sounds of a quite de­cent stereo to dis­turb the seren­ity.

The sus­pen­sion’s sports set­ting al­lows a flat­ter ride, a lit­tle less float over the stan­dard mode, but the C5 is never a sharp sports sedan.

Rather, with com­mu­nica­tive steer­ing, re­as­sur­ing brakes and a will­ing en­gine (in par­tic­u­lar with the trans­mis­sion in sports mode), the C5 is a most sen­si­ble, safe and smart tour­ing ma­chine with great com­fort and a de­cent amount of in­di­vid­u­al­ism over Ford’s Mon­deo and other Euro ri­vals.

Com­ing our way: the Citroen C5 2.0 HDi VTR+ with six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. Aus­tralians should see the new C5 in Septem­ber.

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