Car Test   R0302
 
January 2003
First Drive Citroen C8
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 2.2HDi Exclusive
Worthy though it was, Citroën’s Synergie grew old gracefully, never quite making the big time, big MPV-wise. But the company’s days of playing second fiddle to the likes of Galaxy, Espace and Previa in this market could be over with the arrival of the seven-seater C8.
  
   The Picasso and Berlingo Multispace are already best sellers in the compact and budget MPV classes; can Citroën make it three in a row with a winner in the full-size MPV sector, too?
  
   A glance at the brochure confirms that the newcomer’s specification levels vary from generous to lavish according to model, with the top Exclusive awash with up-market equipment and electronic wizardry.
  
   However, they all share in the stylish, safety conscious interior, featuring an unusual sweeping facia design that incorporates three centrally positioned 'Polo mint' instrument dials. A compact information centre arcs above the reach-and-rake adjustable wheel, while the heater controls sit alongside the gear lever that emerges ergonomically from the raised centre console. Column stalks control the remaining functions. Familiarity overcomes initial confusion.
  
   It doesn’t improve front seating comfort, though. The chairs themselves are fine, but why must they tilt forward as they’re raised? Our ‘about average’ tester just couldn’t get comfortable at the wheel and there’s no left footrest to help, either. All-round vision is very good, however.
  
   The two-litre engines (petrol and diesel) have to work quite hard to propel this weighty load-lugger with any sort of panache, but the 2.2HDi turbo-diesel with lots of torque on tap is well up to the job. Its willing acceleration is combined with smooth revving and quiet cruising. Thanks also to the nifty gearchange, the result is an impressive drive train, with the promise of about 38mpg economy.
  
   A firmly controlled, comfortable ride and mid-weight, responsive steering add to the C8’s composed feeling on the road. Cornering roll isn’t excessive and the brakes feel good, too.
  
   Neat electric sliding rear side doors give access to the flat-floored interior, in which each individual rear seat can be slid along rails or folded, tumbled or removed in the usual way, to give a huge load area. No clever seat disappearing trick, Zafira-style, here, but getting them in and out is a commendably slick operation. They’re pretty heavy, though.
  
   Space is tight for adults in the rearmost pair of seats (or optional three-seater bench), but reasonable kneeroom for all is achievable by negotiation. Nevertheless, most people sit too low for decent thigh support. Foot space and headroom are ample in the mid row, however, and all passengers in SX and Exclusive models are provided with their own climate controllers and sunblinds.
  
   Luggage space varies according to how the seats are arranged, of course, but with a full house, travel light.
  
AT A GLANCE
  considering size, price and rivals
Controls/displays
Handling/steering
Comfort
Space/practicality
LIKES ...
  • three electric slide/tilt sunroofs (Exclusive CC)
  • mirrors fold in automatically when you lock up
  • rear spoiler that's really two roof bars
  • interior child-view mirror in roof
  • 50 separate storage areas - allegedly
and GRIPES
  • many storage areas unlined (contents rattle)
  • wide unwiped band alongside driver's pillar
  • no left footrest (no space for it anyway)
  • speedo calibrated 20, 40, 60 etc
  • quite a leg-stretch to reach the ground when exiting
VERDICT
Other than some sophisticated electronics and an imaginative facia, the C8 brings little innovation to the full-size MPV market. It doesn’t demonstrate any significant new tricks when it comes to rearranging the furniture, for example. It is, however, a marked improvement on the old Synergie, now with greater refinement, as well as the quality and safety features with which to seriously challenge the supremacy of its class rivals.


BRIEF SPECIFICATION
engine 2179cc, direct-injection diesel, 16 valves; 130bhp/232 lb ft with turbocharger and twin balancer shafts; 80-litre fuel tank
transmission 5-speed manual (no automatic option)
suspension front: independent coil spring/damper struts; anti-roll bar
rear: independent trailing arms with torsion beam axle and coil springs; anti-roll bar
wheels/tyres 6.5in alloy with 215/65R15H tyres
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear with standard brake assist/ABS and brake force distribution
CO2 emissions 199g/km
0-62mph* 12.6sec
official mpg§ 28.0/47.9/38.2
* maker's figures  § urban/extra urban/combined

THE C8 RANGE
size and type large 5-door (mid-priced) MPV - 7/8 seats   trim levels LS, SX, Exclusive, Exclusive Captain Chair
engines petrol: 4cyl/2.0 litre/138bhp, 4/2.2/160
diesel: 4/2.0/109, 4/2.2/130
  drive front-wheel drive; 5-speed manual (4-speed stepped automatic optional only with 2.0 litre petrol)
notable features electrically operated sliding side doors, swivelling front seats, eight-seat option, retractable side and rear sunblinds, tyre pressure warning, automatic wipers/lights/door mirror folding, trip computer, auto tri-zone air-con, rear parking sensors


SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
No information for Space and Practicality
  null
  steering
   
  easy to park/garage?
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