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First drive: Citroen C5 – on sale now

Citroen

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Review

Some dealers might be concerned that within a couple of weeks of an important new model going on sale its manufacturer was announcing hefty retail incentives to shift it.

But, hey. This is Citroen. It’s what it does – even though, at last, there’s new product coming out of its ears. According to Citroen, the network is delighted (probably relieved) with C2 and C3, is looking forward to C4 and C6 and is cock-ahoop with the thoroughly reworked C5.

RVs? They’ll be much stronger than those of its predecessor, apparently. User-choosers will be forming disorderly queues for C5 hatch and estate keys, and the private lot will be hammering at dealers’ doors clutching bits of paper promising savings of more than £4,000 thanks to zero per cent finance over three years. The words from Citroen’s officials are, predictably, positive about the new spin on a range that did all the right things in respect of ride comfort and equipment but failed to capture public imagination or fleet funding on a scale commensurate with a mainstream medium car.

Exterior restyling has improved C5’s presence, but even a hardened Citroenophile would be pressed to describe it as striking, like its 407 sister.

What it does have is cruising comfort and great diesels. The new 110bhp 1.6-litre HDI in particular is exceptional in terms of performance, refinement and economy. And then there is the technology: it’s the first Citroen to offer a Lane Departure Warning System – right up fleet’s street (even though Citroen won’t be chasing fleets for volume sales).

C5 also has a speed limiter, parking sensors, seven airbags, ESP with traction control, automatic aircon, auto headlamps, low pressure tyre warning, rain-sensitive wipers and multi-function ICC. So, just like its predecessor it looks good value, but its looks could devalue the whole.

Strengths: Diesels, suspension, equipment
Weakness: Ordinary looks
Opportunity: The car for bumpy roads
Threat: RV history and the whiff of incentives
The USP: Safety firsts
Prices: £14,795-£22,295
Engines: 1.6, 2.0, 2.2 HDI diesels; 1.8, 2.0, 3.0. petrols
Transmission: 5spd, 6spd man; 4spd auto (2.0 petrol, 2.2 HDI), 6spd auto 3.0 V6.
Performance: 0-62mph 11.7sec; top speed 118mph
Efficiency: 52.3-28.2mpg comb; 142-238g/km CO2
CAP RV (3yr/30k): 25-32%
Rivals: Mondeo, Vectra, 407

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