Car Test   R0236
  See also R0153 
May 2002
  Citroën C5 Estate
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 2.2HDi SX
This latest Citroën just asked to be an estate car. Itís special suspension means that it will always ride and corner the same, irrespective of how much (or little) is on board.
   Then thereís the physical nature of the gas and oil springs that make it easy to achieve a uniformly wide load platform, with no wheelarch intrusion.
   Citroën has taken things one stage further with the C5, however, by providing a button-controlled variable static height adjuster; the virtually flat and metal-clad, load sill is raised (or lowered) from the norm, over a range of 16cm, to suit the task in hand.
   Inside, load length is enhanced by the estateís extra 14cm external length, but load height beneath the roller-blind cover isnít as good as the hatchbackís. In other vertical respects, however (tailgate aperture height, rear headroom), the estate has the advantage- again, because itís 4cm taller.
   The SX costs about £1000 more than the still well-kitted LX- the same premium as that levied on the estate bodywork, compared with the hatch. However, you get some useful additions in the SX. For example, there are roof bars, a reversible load deck mat (carpet one side, washable plastic on the other) plus a two-location vertical safety net/screen, which will deter a sliding load or a dog from reaching you upfront.
   In the cabin a simple air-con button is upgraded to sophisticated climate control with side to side temperature variation; this part worked, but we were disappointed with the systemís vagaries in other respects- stuffiness or cold feet just about sums it up.
   The 2.2-litre diesel is a four-cylinder-largish for the purpose of retaining mechanical refinement. It just about gets away with it by incorporating balancer shafts in the crankcase; certainly, 1200rpm is O.K. when trundling along in the lower gears, but thereís a coarser patch around 1400 rpm that, when accelerating through it, set our facia in a tizzy.
   Itís a lovely higher-speed cruiser, however, and the gear change is a pleasant device, if you decide to use it to keep things smooth. Note how well the engine pulls to overtake in third, however.
   The SX has a second button to adjust the suspensionís dynamic ride height but, wheel changing and wading apart, itís best to leave things in normal mode.
   At the helm, we enjoyed the C5ís dynamic flair- itís still different from the norm, with a more remote feel of the road that comes with its super-absorbency.
   Some keener drivers may feel itís a level of insulation that amounts to disconnection, however.
   We found irritating details in control- the way the wipers have to be switched off and on again after starting up, the fussy cruise control, the lack of seat spinal support and no auto-mode air conditioning without the (power-consuming) compressor.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Safety Euro NCAP
Security, theft of
theft from
  • twin side boxes in load area
  • deck net, lashing eyes and guard
  • rain sensor shuts windows and sunroof
  • "find-the-car" button on remote handset
  • poor body detailing around the edges
  • heater fan goes off with engine
  • left footrest too close
  • soggy, inadequate (fixed) lumbar support
The last true Citroën, some may consider, the C5 is a maid of all work, but with a distinctive set of qualities; some enduring, some very useful and a few really irritating. Thatís what comes of being a bit of an individualist.

engine 2179cc, 4-cylinder, diesel; 136bhp at 4000rpm, 232lbft at 2000rpm; belt-driven single overhead camshaft, 8 valves   transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 30.8mph/1000rpm in 5th, 23.5 in 4th
suspension front: independent struts with hydropneumatic pressurised spheres. rear: independent trailing arms with spheres, interconnected with front   steering hydraulic power assistance; 3.2 turns lock-to-lock; 10.65m diameter turning circle between kerbs (17.0m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear, with anti-lock and brake-assist controls   wheels/tyres 6in alloy with 205/65R15H tyres (Michelin on test car); full-size alloy spare

body upper medium (mid-priced) estate car   trim levels LX, SX, Exclusive, Exclusive SE
engines petrol: 4-cyl/1.75 litre/117bhp, 4/2.0/138, 4/2.0(DI)/143, V6/2.95/210; diesel: 4/2.0/90 or 110, 4/2.2/136 - all DI   drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual; 4-speed stepped automatic (with torque converter) optional

HOW THE C5 ESTATE COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Citroen C5 2.2HDi 4/2179/136 2270 10.2 14.1/22.8 44 22/26.5 109 99/76 3.2/10.65 476
Volvo V70 D5 5/2401/163 2390 8.5# 10.9/17.7# 43.5 12/25.5 115 98/73 3.0/11.5 458
Audi A6 2.4 TDi V6/2496/150 2120 8.9 12.3/18.3 44 19/23 109 103/76 2.8/11.15 480
VW Passat 2.4 TDi (Auto) V6/2496/150 2240 9.4 auto/auto 36 14/25 110 103/75 2.8/10.9 467
Rover 75 2.0CDT 4/1951/116 2450 12.8 16.0/25.3 45 22/27 114 105/80 3.2/11.35 479
Skoda Octavia 1.9TDi 4/1896/110 2540 10.7 15.5/21.3 54 27/24 112 97/69 3.1/10.5 451
  # figures for S60 Saloon

Plenty of "surprise and delight" driving aids - not all work as well as we would like. Accurate speedo has 30/50/70 marks - sensible. Twin sun visors and rear head restraints that recede flush, aid vision.
Set up for the soft and easy life but a wide load variation makes no difference - an important virtue that steel springs lack. Light steering effort but not an easy car to manoeuvre in tight spaces.
Super absorbent bump suppression but some "noises off" and lateral rocking at times. Front seats lack spinal support - worse because driving position is laid-back. Climate control a real disappointment, too.

The figures are much as we would expect from a lusty diesel and it's reasonably smooth from low revs (though not perfect); third gear is all that's needed to overtake swiftly.
  acceleration in seconds through gears 3rd gear 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40 3.4 5.2 10.5 no
  30-50 4.1 4.4 7.2 13.7
  40-60 5.2 5.0 6.3 10.0
  50-70 6.1 6.1 6.9 9.1
  30-70 10.2 10.5 14.1 22.8
  max speed in each gear* (* using 4300rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st*      2nd*      3rd*      4th*      5th
     speed (mph)      23      45      72      101      121

A good result for a big wagon, with a generous range as a result, though gauge/computer pessimistic. Fuel cap a bit fiddly to remove with key.
  type of use (air conditioning off) AA test (mpg) 
    urban (17mph average/heavy traffic) 26
    suburban (27mph average/6.4 miles from cold start) 36
    motorway (70mph cruising) 42
    cross-country (brisk driving/20 miles from cold start) 44
    rural (gentle driving/20 miles from cold start) 56
    overall mpg 44
    realistic tank capacity/range 61/590
    official mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 32.1/55.4/43.5
    CO2 emissions 170g/km
    car tax band D

Short pedal travel but no longer too sudden - consistent and fade free, with better handbrake, as well. Some problems in NCAP test with doors unlatching but otherwise safe; especially good in side impact.
  Results for 1.8i SX 5-door hatch, 2001 model year
  From 50mph (with ABS)
front impact     81%
side impact     100%
overall     88%
overall safety rating    
pedestrian rating    
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     31m
sudden 22kg     26.5m best stop
+4kg ie 26kg     27m
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

A serious load carrier (despite the plushness) with added convenience resulting from the suspension. Sensible reversible load mat but rear seatbacks and floor only painted. A lot of car to park.
  in centimetres (Estate)
  length 476
  width - including mirrors 211
    - mirrors folded 188
  height (+ roofbars) 152 (+4)
  load sill height (inside/outside) 2/49-65
  turns lock-to-lock 3.2
  turning circle (metres) 10.65
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 86-109
  rear - typical legroom 99
    - typical kneeroom 76
    - headroom 101
    - hiproom 137
  load area
  load space
(all seats in use)(litres/cu ft)
  load length 105-177
  load length to facia 285
  load width 113-131
  load height (to shelf/to top of aperture) 43/82

A large bulky handset is a problem for women's handbags. Tailgate locks once you move off, but doors don't. No real protection of cargo from interior but two-position guard - to keep the dog at bay!
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
alarm (perimeter + interior)  
self locking (static)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
drive-away self-locking   
rain closes windows   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of"
NCSR - "theft from"
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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