Le joke? Not this funky Citroen
The French are turning the tables on other Europeans, writes PAUL POTTINGER
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.