Citroen C5 Exclusive HDi 200 road test

  • Brilliant ride quality thanks to the Hydractive suspension
  • Returns 47mpg with CO2 emissions of 155g/km
  • Best C5 in the range for driving fun, but rivals are better

The C5 is Citroen's answer to the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall’s Insignia or, as Citroen would have you believe, a credible alternative to a BMW 3 Series or an Audi A4.

We drove the Citroen C5 Exclusive HDi 200 saloon that's powered by a 200bhp 2.2-litre diesel mated to a six-speed sequential automatic gearbox.

Ride quality is the stand-out feature of the Citroen C5. This is largely thanks to the Hydractive suspension system designed to give added comfort and comes as standard with the automatic gearbox. The Hydractive suspension is good – even Rolls Royce and Mercedes-Benz have used this system in the past.

The C5 is at its best making short work of long motorway journeys and when you arrive at your destination you'll get out of the car still feeling fresh.

Enthusiasts will not be drawn to the Citroen, however. The C5 feels cumbersome on single-lane carriageways. There is a noticeable amount of lean through the corners although it grips fairly well when driving enthusiastically.

Rivals such as the Ford Mondeo are much better fun than the C5 on the twisty stuff but you have to accept that the C5 is not about handling - it's about cruising in relative comfort. This version is the best in the C5 range terms of performance and driving fun though. It'll complete the 0-62mph benchmark sprint in 8.3 seconds and will go on to a top speed of 143mph, which is reasonably competitive in this class.

This car is comparatively long and and that can be a problem when trying to fit into tight spots. Front and rear parking sensors come as standard on this model which is very welcome because it makes parking in cramped town centres a lot less stressful.

The interior C5 is laid out in a logical manner but the switchgear and plastics are starting to look dated. The premium car makers including BMW, Audi and Mercedes have much better interiors and so do the Ford Mondeo and the VW Passat for that matter.

It's loaded with kit and highlights include cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, sat nav, dual-zone aircon, front and rear electric windows, Bluetooth, entertainment system with MP3 compatibility, 18-inch alloys, seven airbags, tyre pressure monitor and electrically adjustable front seats.

An ideal driving position can be easily obtained thanks to the highly adjustable seating. The seats are superb – there’s plenty of bolstering for your back while the sides have enough support to keep you in place when cornering. There’s copious amounts of leg, head and shoulder room in the rear and the cabin is well insulated meaning that road, wind and tyre noise is minimal.

Citroens tend to have some quirky bits and pieces and in this respect the C5 does not disappoint. Unlike traditional steering wheels the centre hub on the C5 does not move, only the outer rim does. It may be quirky but ultimately it's a pointless design gimmick.

The C5 is not particularly practical either. Its total load capacity of 439 litres is pretty paltry particularly when you consider that the Mondeo has 528 litres of loadspace with the seats in place. Even the smaller Skoda Octavia has a boot that'll carry 590 litres.

Statswise, you'll build up a picture of outright mediocrity. This version returns 47mpg while it emits 155g/km of CO2 putting it in the 25% Benefit-in-Kind band for company car tax. This means a company car driver paying 20% tax will have to shell out £118 a month while 40% tax payers will be faced with a £236 monthly bill.

The Citroen C5 is a brilliant car if you are constantly traversing the motorways of the UK thanks to that superb ride quality but in reality there are better cars out there including the Mondeo and Passat. This one, performance-wise and handling-wise is best in the range, but that's not really saying much when you consider the competition.

For more on the Citroen C5 read the full review here.

Also consider:

VW Passat
Cracking range of BlueMotion engines making the VW Passat frugal and environmentally friendly.

Ford Mondeo
In terms of having fun and outright handling there not much that can get close in this sector. It’s practical too thanks to its hatchback bodystyle.

Kia Optima
The Kia comes with a transferable seven-year warranty – a great way to assure buyers the Optima is a quality product.