The last Citroen C5 was a distinctive car in some ways. Offered as either a sedan or a wagon, it was the last Citroen with the brand’s famed hydropneumatic suspension and could be had with a smooth turbo-diesel V6.
One thing it didn’t do, however, was offer the kind of avant garde styling larger Citroens have long been known for. In fact, as part of its launch advertising campaign, Citroen called the C5 “unmistakeably German”.
That was likely in response to the large-scale defection in Europe of mainstream brand mid-sizer owners to the premium German brands, but nevertheless the C5’s styling wasn’t cut from the same cloth as models like the ID/DS, BX and CX.
With the new Citroen C5 X, which entered production four years after European manufacturing of the old C5 ended, Citroen is embracing its quirkiness. It’s also leaning into the comfort angle – arguably the old C5’s greatest attribute, and refreshing in a market where sportiness is given so much priority by marketers.
Instead of a choice of sedan or wagon, the C5 X is offered in just one body style which Citroen says offers the comfort and status of a sedan, the volume and practicality of a wagon, and the posture and drive position of an SUV.
Marketing-speak aside, it’s a rakish, high-riding wagon – think somewhere between Shooting Brakes like the Genesis G70 and Volkswagen Arteon, and jacked-up wagons like the Subaru Outback, albeit only with front-wheel drive.
Citroen says it has seen research that some buyers are looking for an alternative to the traditional SUV, and thinks the C5 X could appeal to these buyers while also ensuring a continued presence in the medium/large passenger car market.
Though it occupies the same Large Car segment in VFACTS industry sales data, shared only with the Skoda Superb and Kia Stinger, Citroen didn’t highlight any key rivals for the C5 X. Instead, it says it’ll appeal to buyers of sedans, wagons and SUVs alike.
As the lines between sedans, wagons and SUVs continue to be blurred, Citroen may have found a clever formula though we suspect it’ll soon face conceptually similar rivals, with rumours of similar genre-busting replacements for the Ford Mondeo/Fusion and Opel/Vauxhall Insignia.
The front-wheel drive C5 X is launching in a single, highly specified variant, though Citroen has confirmed a plug-in hybrid version will arrive in Australia in the second half of 2023.
The Shine, as the single variant is known, is priced at $57,670 before on-road costs.
That makes it more expensive than even the top-spec, turbocharged Subaru Outback Touring XT ($55,990), though it slots in between the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack in standard 162TSI ($49,790) and 162TSI Premium guise ($61,790). Both the Outback and Passat Alltrack come standard with all-wheel drive.
Other potential rivals include the front-wheel drive Skoda Superb 162TSI Style wagon ($58,990 drive-away), Volkswagen Arteon 140TSI Elegance liftback ($62,740), and Mazda 6 Atenza wagon ($51,790) as well as the the rear-wheel drive Kia Stinger liftback, which costs between $55,490 and $63,090 drive-away in four-cylinder guise.
If you’re a wagon enthusiast, there’s the Skoda Octavia RS at $57,490 drive-away, while the flagship Subaru WRX tS Sportwagon retails for $57,990 before on-roads. There’s also an even longer list of medium and large crossovers that sit around this price point.
The C5 X does undercut in-house competitors like the Peugeot 508 GT Sportwagon ($65,657) and 3008 GT Sport ($63,431), and also slides in under the Volkswagen Arteon 140TSI Elegance Shooting Brake ($64,740).
Citroen may be pitching this as a more distinctive alternative to traditional sedans and crossovers, but you wouldn’t know it from the C5 X’s exceedingly dull colour palette.
The only actual colour, Magnetic Blue, is standard, with an array of monochromatic shades costing an extra $690. These comprise Steel Grey, Platinum Grey, Amazonite Grey, and Perla Nera Black, with Pearl White costing $1050.
Every single test car at the launch was finished in the same shade of Platinum Grey seen in these pictures. It’s a nice grey, as greys go, but this is a car screaming out for a more distinctive palette. It’s not just Australia that misses out on colours, either, as in China – where all C5 Xs are built – there’s a rather greyscale palette, too.
With a steering wheel normal in both size and shape, a straightforward dashboard, and physical climate controls, the C5 X’s interior is less confronting than a Peugeot’s.
Despite Citroen supposedly sitting below Peugeot in the Stellantis pecking order, there’s still a premium look and feel and, though it’s not as quirky as Citroen cabins of yore, there are some distinctive touches.
A strip of trim bisects the dashboard and connects with wings that fan out onto the doors, with the latter detail reminiscent of Peugeots like the 3008 and 5008. This trim isn’t wood, however, as it would appear from a distance. Instead, it’s pale-coloured trim with a pattern comprised of Citroen’s dual chevron logo.
There’s also a distinctively patterned, rubberised material used across much of the dashboard, Citroen eschewing the traditional graining used by most brands.
You’ll notice Citroen’s chevron logo in the stitching used throughout the cabin, as well as on strips across the seats, engraved into some of the cabin controls, and in the perforations of the upholstery.
Material quality is top-notch, with soft-touch trim used across every surface bar the lowest reaches of the dash and doors. The sides of the centre console, an often overlooked part of a car’s cabin, are also finished in leather-like material.
The only trim choice that Citroen ought to have reconsidered was our usual bête noire: the gloss-black trim applied to the centre console.
The column stalks are nicely damped, as are the plastic paddle shifters. Cruise control switches are found on the steering wheel, which is an attractive item albeit with a wide, almost horizontal bottom spoke with no opening through which to put your hand.
The new-generation infotainment system is a big step up from that previously used in Citroen and Peugeot products, with more intuitive menus, customisable screens, a dedicated and straightforward home screen, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
It also debuts Citroen’s Connected Services suite, which includes live information on car park space availability, fuel prices, and traffic powered by TomTom, with monthly over-the-air map updates and daily fuel price updates. It’s free for three years from the start date of your vehicle’s warranty, and you can pay for one- or three-year subscriptions beyond this.
Stellantis has discarded the rubbish excuse for a surround-view camera used in other Citroen and Peugeot products in favour of one that’s functional and much higher in resolution.
The navigation system features attractive graphics and works well, with directions projected in the head-up display. This can also be customised further, with a more detailed graphical view available.
We didn’t experience any dropouts with the wireless Android Auto, while we appreciated the ease with which we could switch between the default interface and smartphone mirroring.
There’s a physical shortcut button on the centre stack that takes you home (next to one for vehicle settings), while a button always appears on screen to instantly take you back into your smartphone mirroring.
The home screen displays the map and radio shortcuts, while on our tester swiping from the side brought shortcuts to the fore for functions like automatic stop/start deactivation and media.
You can also set up to eight user profiles with two phones per person, and the vehicle can detect which person is in the vehicle based on the presence of your device.
The 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster is small and simple in layout, though it’s customisable via the Settings menu on the touchscreen – albeit not while you’re in motion – and you can create a screen that combines the widgets you want. For example, I created a custom screen displaying a tachometer (albeit only a text read-out) and my average fuel economy.
At the base of the centre stack, you’ll find a wireless charging pad, a USB-C port and a 12V outlet. There’s a little bit of storage here, and the whole area can be concealed with a roll-top lid.
There’s also a little niche ahead of the centre console bin that you could use to stand up your mobile phone, though it’s not rubberised.
Then there’s the centre console bin itself, which is a touch narrow but impressively deep, and boasts a USB-C outlet. There’s no sunglasses holder on the roof, though there’s a little niche in the glove compartment you could put these in.
Citroen says the C5 X’s Advanced Comfort Seats feature a high-density layer of thickened, structured foam, with padding like that of a mattress topper.
It’s not just talk: these are genuinely comfortable seats, though they have only heating and no ventilation or massaging, despite the latter being available on some Peugeot models.
There’s not much in the way of bolstering, but they’re cushy and comfortable. That also applies to the rear bench.
There’s plenty of legroom in the back and overall it’s a comfortable place to sit, though the high belt line and small rear quarter and tailgate windows mean it’s not exceptionally bright and airy.
Citroen may call it a panoramic sunroof, but it’s really more of a large single-pane unit. It cuts into rear-seat headroom somewhat, but I still had clearance above my noggin and I’m 180cm tall.
Soft-touch trim continues to the rear doors, including leatherette inserts. There are also air vents and two USB-C outlets, plus two ISOFIX and three top-tether anchor points for child seats.
The sloping roof line does eat into cargo space – this is no CX Break. There’s 545L of space behind the rear seats, expanding to 1640L with them dropped, which is up 40L and 178L on the old C5 wagon but down 105L and 140L on a Passat wagon.
Cleverly, the cargo blind folds into the tailgate, while there are handles in the load bay you can use to drop the rear seats. There’s also a 12V outlet back here.
As is Citroen Australia’s recent modus operandi, the C5 X has arrived locally with only the most powerful petrol engine option available globally.
It’s a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 133kW of power at 5500rpm and 250Nm of torque at 1650rpm, mated with an Aisin-sourced eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission.
You’ll find the same powertrain in the Peugeot 3008 and 5008 GT Sport, and with a tare weight of 1439kg the C5 X sits right between the 3008 (1397kg) and 5008 (1490kg).
The engine’s outputs are nothing spectacular, particularly when you look at similarly sized hatchbacks and wagons. For example, a Skoda Superb or Volkswagen Passat Alltrack puts out 162kW of power and 350Nm of torque, a four-cylinder Kia Stinger 182kW and 353Nm, and a Mazda 6 Atenza 170kW and 420Nm.
Citroen claims combined cycle fuel economy of 6.0 litres per 100km. Over around 75km of driving, including both suburban roads and highways, we averaged 6.7 litres per 100km. That’s pretty thrifty, though it does require 95 RON premium unleaded fuel.
Every second word out of Citroen about the C5 X seems to be “comfort”, so we were naturally keen to see how the new model lived up to these claims.
The old hydropneumatic suspension set-up is gone, spheres and all, and instead the C5 X uses what the company calls Progressive Hydraulic Cushions. These are positioned between the springs and the mechanical stops, with one for compression and one for rebound.
Citroen says on light bumps, the spring and shock absorber control the vertical movements with no assistance required from the hydraulic cushions, supposedly creating a “magic carpet” effect. On major bumps, conversely, the spring and shock absorber work with the cushions to help dissipate the energy from impacts.
It’s quite a different set-up from the old hydropneumatic system, and Citroen connoisseurs will likely notice a different feel. If you’re someone new to the brand, however, you’ll likely just notice an impressive level of ride comfort overall.
You’ll hear a rut or expansion joint more than you’ll feel it, and the C5 X lapped up the potholed roads of Sydney with aplomb, smothering bumps and ruts and feeling nicely cushioned.
It wafts along patchwork pavement and, though it takes a second to settle over some undulations, it doesn’t feel uncomfortably floaty or cheaply engineered. We didn’t get to take the C5 X onto any unsealed roads, however, to really test its comfort credentials.
The additional ride height over the old C5 will help buyers who are less limber, while also proving welcome if your commute involves a gravel driveway or dirt roads. There’s no all-wheel drive available, however.
The steering has a comfort focus, too, but this is less ideal. It’s disconcertingly light at low speeds, though it weighs up when you pick up the pace. Despite this, it still feels a little too light and lacking in feel, and doesn’t inspire confidence on a more spirited drive – not that such driving is in the C5 X’s remit.
Putting the C5 X in sport mode over-corrects the light steering, adding so much artificial weight you’ll feel like you’re wrestling with the tiller.
The C5 X’s body roll feels reasonably well-controlled – this isn’t some old Ami 6 with its mirrors practically scraping the pavement – and its centre of gravity feels lower than a typical medium or large SUV.
Despite this, it doesn’t feel considerably more dynamic than, say, a Peugeot 3008, which also uses a version of Stellantis’ EMP2 platform and boasts both a well-sorted and comfortable ride and more engaging steering. The C5 X feels more resistant to sudden changes in direction, but then Citroen doesn’t tout it as a dynamic corner carver.
The brand claims a 0-100km/h time of 8.1 seconds, which sounds about right. It’s no rocketship but there’s adequate power on tap, though with five aboard it could potentially struggle.
There’s a bit of jerkiness off the line – something we more often experience with dual-clutch transmissions – but otherwise the eight-speed auto shifts smoothly.
The cabin is well-insulated from noise, with only a little bit of tyre roar creeping in on coarser-chip roads. Credit here goes in part to the laminated side windows and windscreen.
The engine has a slightly gravelly note to it, but again it’s nicely hushed.
The C5 X offers a Level 2 autonomous driving feature, with the adaptive cruise control and Lane Positioning Assist working together to keep the vehicle at its set speed and centred in its lane.
The system works well at keeping the car on track when the highway curves, but it doesn’t feel quite as fluid as some rivals’ systems. Its movements are somewhat jerky, like it’s making lots of little adjustments instead of smoother, more sweeping ones.
The adaptive cruise control works in conjunction with the traffic sign recognition system, with a prompt appearing in the head-up display to advise you to press OK to adjust to a changed speed limit.
We appreciated the real-time petrol price information as part of Citroen’s Connected Services suite, though we were disappointed to find there was no Auto Hold function to go with the electric park brake.
C5 X Shine highlights:
- 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Satellite navigation
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Wireless phone charger
- Head-up display
- 8-speaker sound system
- 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster
- Steering reach, height adjustment
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Heated steering wheel
- Dual-zone climate control
- Electric parking brake
- Aluminium pedals
- Frameless auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Paloma leather upholstery
- Heated front seats
- 8-way power driver’s seat with memory
- 6-way power passenger’s seat
The Citroen C5 X has yet to be tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- AEB with low-light pedestrian, cyclist detection
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Lane-keep assist
- Lane Positioning Assist (lane centring)
- Traffic sign recognition
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Intelligent speed adaptation
- Multi-collision braking
- Active bonnet
- Driver attention alert
- Front, front-side and curtain airbags
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Surround-view cameras
The C5 X is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with five years of roadside assistance and capped-price servicing.
Servicing is required every 12 months or 20,000km, whichever comes first, with the first five services capped at $444, $722, $444, $743 and $465 respectively.
That means the C5 X costs $2818 to service over five years, essentially identical to a Volkswagen Passat but around $500 more than a Kia Stinger. A Skoda Superb is also cheaper to service, with five-year service plans currently capped at $1800.
It’s refreshing to see a vehicle with such a targeted focus on comfort above all else.
After all, you’ll likely spend most of your time in it commuting, often on arrow-straight roads that too often are patchy and pockmarked.
Citroen has talked a good game about the C5 X’s comfort, but it’s not just marketing puffery. The C5 X is genuinely a comfortable car, both to drive and in which to sit, with cushy seats and a cushy ride.
It’s no canyon-carver or speed demon, but then Citroen hasn’t touted it as such.
We just wonder how much of a market there is for the C5 X, particularly at this price point and given the brand’s almost statistically insignificant (if, admittedly, once again increasing) presence in the Australian market.
The C5 X’s genre-busting body styling is a refreshing return to form for quirky Citroen, though we suspect in this age of coupe SUVs and often surprisingly low-slung electric crossovers that there may be other brands that’ll offer a similarly packaged and positioned vehicle.
If a more mainstream brand introduces a similar sedan/hatch/wagon/SUV hybrid, they could find greater success because this body style offers both style and substance – even if the C5 X isn’t as cavernous as some wagons, and doesn’t offer the traction benefits of all-wheel drive SUV rivals.
Against models in Peugeot Citroen Australia’s own fleet, the C5 X represents good value. But against similarly practical and often more capable and powerful rivals, the value proposition starts to evaporate.
It’s a comfortable, stylish, practical and efficient vehicle, and we applaud Citroen for bringing it to our largely wagon-averse market. But we also wish the C5 X was just a few thousand dollars cheaper, given the lack of all-wheel drive and its modest outputs.
The good news is there’s plenty to like here without the prerequisite of you being a rusted-on Citroen buyer. It’s quirky enough to stand out without being so alien as to turn most buyers off. Citroen has performed an impressive balancing act.
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