The Citroën C5 X is a refreshingly different looking car that appeals on many levels. Voted Irish large crossover/SUV of the year 2023 by the MMAI, the critics, including us, love the big French car as it is a break from all the SUVs and crossovers that dominate the car market right now. Critical acclaim and sales success don’t always go hand in hand and the C5 X will find it hard to be anything other than a niche player in a sea of SUVs.
The C5 X is an estate car with an almost ‘all road estate’ appearance. At 4,805mm long it is just 74mm shorter than a Skoda Superb Combi (estate) and a little taller at 1,485mm. The C5 X’s imposing size is an asset but also a concern for potential buyers used to piloting family SUVs with their nice, high driving positions that offer a great view of the surroundings. The C5 X, some 200mmm longer than a RAV4, is more of a challenge especially in confined spaces. Drivers lacking in confidence in congested urban setting and tight car parks will find the view from the C5 X driver’s seat is not as commanding as in an SUV. That said, I loved it, and had no issues. There were times however when I was aware of its size, you will notice this when parking as it will fill the full length of a space. The car’s exterior is full of design flair that takes its appearance away from the conventional estate body form in to something else. There are interesting details everywhere plus a nice light signature, all will make you smile.
Inside the cabin seats five. The dash is vast with a good size centre touch screen display, sadly the drivers digital display is too small and should be higher quality, but other than that its cabin is accommodating and very comfortable. USB ‘C’ connectors, 12volt socket and wireless phone charging feature among the host of driver comforts and aids. Our well equipped Flair model had am ‘extended’ head up drivers display (e-HUD) and this made driving even more relaxing. The boot is vast too with nice and low loading access.
The engine range is limited to a PHEV petrol (1.6 litre) and a 130hp petrol only model (1.2 litre three-cylinder turbo) – dial the clock back a few years and the C5 X would be a huge seller here with a diesel engine. We’ve been testing the C5 X plug-in Hybrid and while its official emission figure is low at 30g/km, its electric only driving range despite being quoted at 55km is in reality dissapointing and much less – it is a big beast of a car after all. The hybrid battery size is 13.2kWh. This lack of genuine electric range impacts on petrol consumption especially if you do more than urban driving or don’t charge up as often as possible. The Hybrid’s combined power output is 225hp / 360nm so it has a lot of grunt if needed. Power is delivered through its e-EAT8 auto gearbox. It has four selectable driving modes: Electric, Comfort, Hybrid and Sport.
On the road the C5 X is first and foremost comfortable. The ride quality is great and its large wheels and suspension cope well with mixed surfaces. Citroën’s ‘Advanced Comfort Active’ controlled suspension with double (front & rear) progressive hydraulic cushions damps most roads well. Despite our car having a good amount of power – we simply never wanted to drive it enthusiastically, preferring to simply waft along in a stress free state. Pricing starts from €39,590 with the PHEV starting at €42,370. Our ‘Flair’ PHEV test car cost €52,250.
The C5 X is a lovely comfy big bus that ticks all the boxes as a family car. It has a friendly relaxed nature and while it can be brisk will encourage drivers to be compliant and calm in their day to day driving. I have always been a fan of Citroens and had a classic DS that I restored and drove for many happy years. The C5 X is a valiant effort to embrace that DS spirit in a family car… despite its poor real world EV range, we still like it… a lot!