Test drive: Citroën C5 X Hybrid 225: comfort is its forte!

Citroën is doing things in a different way, banking on the assets of the C5 X crossover on an SUV- dominated market, A weird car completely at odds with the rather conventional DS9. This 5 door crossover is not really a premium contender but it is more comfortable and bigger inside. Now that Peugeot offers a more dynamic looking 408 based on identical underpinnings, will its keen pricing be enough to ensure success in the long run ?

Six years ago, Citroën unveiled an elegant prototype named CXperience at the October 2016 Paris Motor Show. Back then, car enthusiasts could still dream in front of concepts cars that hinted at an eternally positive future. Everything is different now… However, the French engineers went ahead and managed to evolve the executive concept car into a real car. It’s fair to say they managed to carry over a large number of the prototype’s details, like the adaptive dampers and hydraulic stoppers ensuring a 5 star comfort. On the other end, the prototype’s raised ground clearance makes the C5 X looking a bit ungainly.

I like it

The C5 X has huge interior space and clearly plays the living space card, far from the cramped interiors of other, more sporty cars. As is often the case with Citroëns, the dashboard design is a simple, airy and uncluttered affair still displaying some switches, fortunately. The huge 12″ central screen is easy to read even though mastering it requires some practice. Using the voice-activated navigation  will ake things easier. Facing the driver is a three-spoke steering wheel whose vertical spoke is reminiscent of some classic Citroëns. The Advanced Comfort seats are soft and comfy enough in the old Citroën way but we think they definitely lack lateral and back support.

Quite clever

The C5 X’s strong emphasis on comfort is a way of getting back to good old traditionnal Citroën values. It must be said that the car’s comfort is one of its main qualities, thanks to the famous hydraulic suspension stoppers. Road behaviour is undoubtedly on the soft and restrained side, anihilating any spirited driving desire. Some would call it an OAP or « pipe and slippers » car but in an increasingly restrictive world and ever tighter speed limits, it makes sense.

I don’t like it

As we have just said, this Citroën C5 X does not like to be rushed. Its steering is way too soft and the information it sends back to the driver lacks precision. Flooring the gas pedal will have the front wheels quickly giving up when the 360 Nm of torque are unleashed. However, this won’t stop this 1.8 tonne PHEV from hitting 0-100 km/h in just 7″8 secs, before crossing the kilometre mark from a standing start in 27.6″secs… However, the brake pedal dead feeling will quickly cool down any sporty intentions you might have.

Why I buy it

The ICE C5 X starts from € 32,260 while the cheapest PHEV C5 X is priced at  € 45,567. Our test « Shine Pack » costs € 50,971. However, it’s lavishly equipped and Citroën always has special offers available, whatever the time of the year. The fast approaching Brussels Motor Show should bring some interesting deals, too. This crossover will cosset you in total comfort, thanks to its ideally designed seats and generous interior space. Recharging it as often as possible will reduce its fuel consumption. We averaged 4.8 l/100 km over a 430 km test.

Why I don’t buy it

While we can understand Citroën’s positioning this crossover entirely on comfort, we nevertheless have the feeling that things could have been less radical. Any strong acceleration will have the front end protesting while the steering and braking feedbacks are too artificial. Driving it once the battery’s flat makes the gearbox feeling choppy and sluggish when you start it… Trying to drive this French car made in China like a sportscar is definitely not a good idea. (Translation: Dimitri Urbain / Pictures: Pierre Fontignies)

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