Le joke? Not this funky Citroen

The French are turn­ing the ta­bles on other Euro­peans, writes PAUL POT­TINGER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige News -

CITROEN’S new, sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion C5 could be the ve­hi­cle to dis­pel those bad jokes about French cars. You know the ones: they go quick­est when driv­ing away from a Ger­man; they ride like melt­ing camem­bert; and the build qual­ity is about as sound.

A great deal more time than cars­Guide’s stint of 300km be­hind the wheel and 70km in the passenger seat is needed to as­sess the ride.

But we can say this is the most com­plete Citroen in years.

The new C5 is a gi­ant step for­ward and points to a de­par­ture in style and per­cep­tion.

It bodes well for the com­ing prod­uct roll­out, which will in­clude the new C4 hatch, Ber­lingo and Nemo vans and pos­si­bly the C cross­over SUV.

The ap­pear­ance and on-road ex­pe­ri­ence of the first C5 was about as in­vig­o­rat­ing as be­ing im­mersed in a bath of warm milk, but the sec­ond­gen sedan is cut from a very dif­fer­ent de­signer cloth.

The new shape is sleek and strik­ing with that trade­mark long front over­hang and pert rear.

In­side, qual­ity has risen and you have to love the seat mas­sager.

It’s all a neat com­bi­na­tion of func­tion­al­ity and funk­i­ness.

Seen from be­hind, there’s more than a hint of Audi A4, which is not co­in­ci­den­tal.

Citroen Aus­tralia chief Miles Wil­liams says that, as well as the usual mid- priced, mid­dle- class Euro­peans the C5 is pit­ted against ( Volk­swa­gen, Peu­geot, Volvo, Saab), ‘‘we’ll at­tract Audi A4 peo­ple in the top-end car’’.

It says much for the new car’s ex­te­rior and in­te­rior qual­ity that you’re not tempted to laugh at this.

The new C5 has two lev­els of spec­i­fi­ca­tion— Com­fort and Exclusive — and one fuel.

‘‘Diesel rep­re­sents where our cus­tomers are,’’ Wil­liams says. ‘‘There was no de­mand for the old 2.0-litre petrol.’’

The Com­fort starts at $50,000. The Tour­ing, when it ar­rives, will be $52,740.

They are pow­ered by a fa­mil­iar 2.0-litre tur­bod­iesel four-cylin­der, good for 100kW at top revs and 320Nm from less than 2000 revs.

The jump to $54,990 for the Exclusive 2.0 HDI sedan ($57,740 Tour­ing) looks to be worth it.

The 150kW/440Nm V6 Ex­clu- sive, which has the same su­perb PSA/Ford bi-turbo pow­er­train that’s con­sid­ered good enough for a $ 100,000 Jaguar, starts from $62,990 ($65,740 Tour­ing).

All mod­els have five-star NCAP crash safety rat­ings. The Exclusive gets two ex­tra airbags (nine in all).

All mod­els have anti-skid brakes with brake as­sist and brake-force dis­tri­bu­tion.

Op­tions in­clude 19-inch al­loys (the Exclusive has 18s, the Com­fort 17s), sun­roof (full length in the Tour­ing), Blue­tooth, lane-de­par­ture warn­ing and a 10GB MP3 player.

If vis­ually the C5 has shed its cardi­gan for a classy jacket, on the road it re­tains mem­ber­ship at Club Com­fort. You’d be hard put to find a more ca­pa­ble and com­posed high­way cruiser.

It’s quiet, too, eerily so, some­thing that, when com­bined with the ef­fort­less mid-range ac­cel­er­a­tion of the V6, can see alarm­ing num­bers reg­is­ter on the dig­i­tal speedo.

Be­ing ca­pa­ble dy­nam­i­cally and un­flus­tered when the road goes to rub­bish com­pletes the C5’s port­fo­lio of ac­com­plish­ments and makes you won­der if it re­ally isn’t the ideal Euro sedan for this coun­try.

Un­flus­tered: the new Citroen C5 could be the ideal Euro sedan for Aus­tralia.

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