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Citroen C5 3.0 HDi Exclusive Sedan 2010 Review

It would be so very refreshing to read a review of a French car which eschewed the token use of French. Sadly, this is not going to be that review, because vive la difference embodies perfectly the essence of Citroën's C5.

In price, placement and most of all in its cosseting and eventually appealing road manners, the range topping version of the big sedan (it comes as a wagon for three grand more) is predicated on following a path less travelled by Europeans.

Whereas sporting pose is the (too) dominant theme in the handling compromise of most Euros, composure and poise is the C5's raison d'etre (sorry) an attitude that arguably better suits Australian roads.

VALUE

Vexed question this. Depends if you think the Citroën overpriced next to the Passats, 159s and 407s of this word, or if like Volvo it undercuts the German prestige trio.

Less equivocally, the range-topper’s 3.0-litre V6 twin turbo diesel sets it apart. Nothing in price proximity offers an equivalent engine - they're all either one or two cylinders short, or overpriced and underdone by comparison.

Recently upgraded over the 2.7-litre unit, with which the second generation C5 launched two years ago, it's a less potent version of the PSA engine found in Jaguar's $113,000 XF.

Against that, the $12,000 premium over the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel C5 is slightly mad, given the latter is almost as useful in urban use. Options, not least the $5000 demanded for the "NaviDrive" GPS set up, are enough to make you choke on your croissant. Wheel arch filling 18-inch alloys are standard.

TECHNOLOGY

Hydractive III+ suspension is a good chunk of the Citroën’s appeal, derived and developed from the original "magic carpet ride" concept of the iconic DS. At speed, the C5 automatically lowers. On poor surfaces, it automatically sets for increased clearance and comfort. Thanks to the self-levelling feature you are also guaranteed a constant ride height, regardless of the load or number of passengers. In practice, it remains slightly soufflé even in "sport" mode. This is no bad thing.

DESIGN

If the previous C5 (a liftback, not a true four-door) was the preserve of Francophiles, this one is altogether more visually appealing, within and without. As is almost always the Euro way, the wagon is the most resolved looker, but the four door with its massive front overhang and sculptured derriere (looking more than a little Audi A4) is distinctive enough even without that chevron badge.

In the event of a big impact, the steering wheel's fixed hub permits unimpeded deployment of the airbag. The plethora of controls attached work audio and cruise functions – it’s a neater solution than Peugeot's array of wands, though the Citroën’s centre console buttons are equally fiddly.

SAFETY

The full five stars in NCAP crash testing and seven airbags, with the full armoury of active acronyms. The spare is full size. Are you listening BMW? No, didn't think so...

DRIVING

To be perfectly Francois, the C5 initially feels unwieldy and even alien, wafting weirdly, with most of the that massive kerb weight (near enough 1800kg) forward of your feet. Yet by week’s end it feels like a favoured and comfortable coat.

Sudden jolts will send it rocking like a boat that's struck a wave, but this tendency is largely controlled by selecting and sticking with Hydractive's sport mode. The transmission's sport mode, by contrast, simply muddies gear selection, which can be performed manually but is best left to its own devices.

From noticeable lag off the mark, the digital speedo is soon blurring, but not only is there little sense of how quickly you're accruing speed, there's no sound of it. Refinement is remarkable you could be driving a hybrid rather than a big torqueing diesel.

Some seem to be criticising the C5 for not being a 5 Series. If you want to slice up the twisties look elsewhere; if you want to effortlessly dispatch cruising kilometres, step this way. Tout de suite.

VERDICT: Composure and poise beats sporting pose

CITROËN C5 3.0 HDI EXCLUSIVE SEDAN

Price: From $69,990
Engine: 3L V6 bi-turbo diesel; 177kW/450Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Thirst: 7.4L/100km combined

Pricing guides

$10,700
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$6,000
Highest Price
$15,400

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.0 16V Comfort 2.0L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $7,500 – 11,660 2010 Citroen C5 2010 2.0 16V Comfort Pricing and Specs
2.0 HDi Comfort 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $6,000 – 9,350 2010 Citroen C5 2010 2.0 HDi Comfort Pricing and Specs
2.0 HDi Exclusive 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $6,600 – 10,230 2010 Citroen C5 2010 2.0 HDi Exclusive Pricing and Specs
2.7 V6 HDi Exclusive 2.7L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $7,500 – 11,660 2010 Citroen C5 2010 2.7 V6 HDi Exclusive Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$6,000

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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