- We like...Smooth ride
- We don't...Risk of rapid depreciation
Citrn thinks its newest family saloon ought to be German. It's not, but it's still good This, if you believe the TV ads, is the car that Citrn desperately wants all to think of as German. So what are we to think: that it’s like a German car, except maybe not quite as good, ‘cos it’s French?
With this buzz of conflicting ideas, let’s come to the car. It’s big and imposing in the way that Volkswagen’s Passat manages and its heavy doors shut with a deep, comforting ‘thunk’. And, like the VW, it comes as a saloon (four doors, plus boot) or as an estate: there’s no hatchback version. This makes the one we test here more solid as it moves along the road than a hatchback might be, but it’s also not much cop for lugging old mattresses down to the tip.
Outside, it’s sleek if a touch anonymous when viewed from the side, though the lights and grille borrow heavily from its handsome big brother, the C6. It’s got that car’s concave rear screen, too. Inside, there’s more than enough space for five adults, though the centre seat in the rear is short on padding and not comfy for long.
The seats and plastics on our SX model –the cheapest model of three available – were coal-black. This, plus a high window line, make it gloomy. Still, it’s practical and dsn’t distract. Despite being the cheapest model, there’s everything you’d want already aboard – automatic air conditioning, courtesy lights under the front doors to light where you step, even cruise control. There’s also a conventional hand brake lever, not the press-button electronic job fitted on other models, but we prefer that. For us, simpler is better.
Citrn once made cars that appeared wilfully odd. It’s stopped now, but a hint of this past lingers in the fixed centre to the steering. It’s weird at first to wield a wheel where the rim turns but the middle stays put, but it’s quickly learned and not a problem. Though we can’t see why it’s made so: there’s no benefit we can see.
To drive, the car lopes wonderfully as did Citrns of yore, softening big bumps and removing little ‘uns. The difference is that while past generations employed gas- and oil-filled spheres, this one’s not that different in design to those of its rivals, using wishbones and dampers up front and a mutli-link set-up at the back. That promises long-term reliability and it’s wonderfully relaxing, too, though it won’t encourage you to tear about. On a similar note, the 1.6 HDi engine might be small for such a chunky car, but it fields its modest power well, complementing the C5’s go-softly ride. And its promised 50mpg overall is amazing.
At the price, this cheapest-but-one of C5s looks a smart buy. Until you start wondering about how its trade-in value will stand when you come to change it. The previous C5 did poorly, struggling to raise 30% of its original cost once it reached three years old. So what retails at £16,595 now will realise a few quid under £5k in 2011. VW’s Passat, meanwhile, manages 40%. New C5 may do better than the old, but it’s a risk.
It’s good, but not as impressive as any German car we can think of. Buy if for what it is, ignore the ads and - if you can take the risks its second-hand value presents - enjoy it.
- Engines1.6 HDi
- 0-60 mph13.4sec
- Insurance groups8E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: