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Citroen C5 V6 2006 Review

At $55,990, the C5 V6 is playing in a fairly demanding ballpark.

Time spent recently with the Citroen family's largest — for the moment — model left a rather empty feeling. An impression that it should have been enjoyed more.

At $55,990, the C5 V6 is playing in a fairly demanding ballpark.

Shoppers with that sort of greenery in the back pocket have a rich menu to select from.

Chrysler's 3.5-litre 300C, Holden's 3.6-litre Statesman, Ford's 4.0-litre Fairlane Ghia, Peugeot's 3.0-litre 407 and Volvo's turbo AWD S40 are just some prime examples of those there or thereabouts.

What the C5 does offer — apart from its Gallic individuality — is a reputable claim to being the "safest" car on the road.

What it actually has is the highest safety score ever handed out by boffins at the EuroNCAP crash test centre. The Citroen C5 actually scored an unprecedented 36 points out of a possible 37.

Even better, it managed a 100 per cent score in the frontal impact test.

What really impressed the NCAP guys was that the C5 passenger cell protected all occupants with an impressive side impact protection system, warning lights for rear as well as front seatbelts, double pretensioner on the front passenger belt and knee airbags.

In a nutshell, this means that as that big accident looms you will be allowed a momentary self-satisfied smirk because you chose to spend your hard-earned on the C5.

However, the NCAP engineers only crash cars — they don't have to drive them or live with them day-to-day. In the C5, there are lots and lots of neat individual aspects — it is only the whole that fails to engage. The styling is ... French. Long front overhangs and a bonnet that extends far enough into the distance to intimidate first-time drivers in tight car parks. Yet, it is pleasing to the eye.

The interior of the cabin is spacious with an instrument display that is clear and easy to read. The seats are comfortable without being outstanding and most of the ergonomics are at the better end of the French scale.

There are also numerous nooks and crannies in which to store/hide the ever-growing list of small items you take into a car.

The major exception to the ergonomics is the driver's footrest, which is narrow and tucked away hard against the central tunnel.

Using the multi-function stalks mounted on the steering column also takes a degree of practice and concentration but they work well and, as an owner, use would become more instinctive over time. Powering the top-of-the-range C5 is the 3.0-litre V6 Citroen shares with development partner Peugeot.

With 155kW available at a peak of 6000rpm and 290Nm of torque on tap at 3750rpm the outputs are mid-range at best. Around the city the engine gives the impression of being relaxed. The six-speed automatic does its best with well-sorted ratios but shifting position quickly in slow-going traffic to take advantage of merging opportunities is not a forte.

As a highway cruiser the C5 takes on another character entirely. The steering feel, disconcertingly light at low speeds, weights up nicely; the clever Hydractive suspension reads the road surface and speed for a more sporty damper response and the C5 becomes an effortless cruise; in this environment the six-speed shifter feels completely at home.

Unfortunately, the Hydractive's ability to lower the car by 15mm for highway running only comes into effect over Australia's 110km/h speed limit. Overall, the impression is that in the C5 there was something worth getting to know, but an absolute certainty that it was going to take a lot of hard work.

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Range and Specs

3.0 V6 2.9L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ $4,200 – 6,820 2006 Citroen C5 2006 3.0 V6 Pricing and Specs
SX 2.0L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $2,800 – 4,730 2006 Citroen C5 2006 SX Pricing and Specs
SX 2.0 16V 2.0L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,800 – 4,840 2006 Citroen C5 2006 SX 2.0 16V Pricing and Specs
SX 2.0 16V HDi 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $3,700 – 6,050 2006 Citroen C5 2006 SX 2.0 16V HDi Pricing and Specs