Citroen C5 X review
The Citroen C5 X is a large family crossover estate that majors on comfort and refinement. It certainly stands out in a crowd, but the hybrid’s electric range isn’t great
What's not so good
Find out more about the Citroen C5 X
The Citroen C5 X is the type of car you might buy if you want a bit of everything.
You could say it’s a bit like ordering the ‘special’ fried rice from your local Chinese takeaway. There’s a bit of bulky SUV in the mix, as well as a dash of practical estate and sleek saloon – all of which combine to make a concoction that maybe doesn’t look immediately appetising at first glance, but is actually rather delicious when you tuck in.
Given its weird styling mash-up the alternatives you might also consider are pretty varied. Price-wise, everything from a Cupra Formentor to a Volkswagen Tiguan or a Skoda Superb Estate might also be on your shopping list; but the Citroen’s quirkiness certainly does at least help it to stand out from the crowd more than those models.
It looks pretty distinctive on the inside, too. Soft, spongy leather upholstered seats mix with wood-effect trims and soft-touch plastics to lend the C5 X an appealing lounge-like ambience. Meanwhile, the infotainment system looks good and is easy enough to use – but it’s not the most responsive set-up in the world and you’ll probably just default to using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto instead anyway.
There’s loads of adjustability in the driving position, and the second row is cavernous – even taller adults will find they’ve got a good amount of space to play with to get comfortable. There are a number of handy door bins and cubby holes for stashing your various odds and ends away, and the 545-litre boot is easily large enough to carry a couple of bulky suitcases.
As far as engines go, you’ve currently got a choice of three different options. Two are petrol motors that develop 130hp and 180hp respectively, and which drive the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Then there’s the 225hp plug-in hybrid model, which combines a petrol engine with a larger battery and a secondary electric motor for a claimed all-electric range of 34 miles – though you’ll get much less than that out in the real world.
The Citroen C5 X is impressively practical and comfy, but its styling might not be to everyone’s tastes. I’d go for the 180hp petrol model in the mid-level Shine trim.
Our favourite was the 180hp petrol model. The engine is generally quiet and refined at a cruise, but at lower speeds the transmission can be a bit jerky. The stop-start system that cuts the engine when you’re at a standstill can be a bit over-eager too, occasionally causing you to lurch to a sudden halt as you’re pulling up to the lights.
So it’s a good thing that the C5 X’s ride is so comfortable. Around town you sail over lumps and bumps in the road, and on the motorway you feel like you’re wafting on a cloud. Visibility out the back isn’t great, but there isn’t much wind or road noise and adaptive cruise control (standard on the range-topping model) helps to make long-distance journeys even less taxing.
It’s even pretty fun on a twisty back road, which is surprising given the car’s spongy, souffle-like suspension set-up. There’s a bit of roll through corners, but this movement feels very controlled, and the lightweight steering is accurate enough.
So if you can get onboard with the marmite styling, there’s a huge amount to like about the Citroen C5 X. It’s super comfortable, impressively spacious and usefully practical.
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There’s loads of room in the C5 X’s cabin for all passengers to get comfy, but it’s boot isn’t quite as large as some more conventional SUVs or estate cars
The C5 X comes fitted with Citroen’s ‘Advanced Comfort Seats’ as standard. These are essentially just large, generously cushioned chairs that feel more like your favourite armchair than a regular car seat.
Over distance they’re extremely comfortable and supportive, and despite their bulky shape and size they don’t eat into valuable cabin space – you’ll still have plenty of room to play with up front.
There’s loads of adjustability too, so it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel. The entry-level ‘Sense Plus’ and ‘Shine’ models have manually-adjustable front seats, while the range-topper gets electrically-operated, heated chairs as standard. Massage and ventilation functions are available optionally to help keep you even comfier when you’re behind the wheel.
If you’re sitting in the second row, you won’t feel short-changed on the comfort front either. There’s a huge amount of legroom available, so you can stretch out easily; and headspace is pretty good too. Only the tallest adult passengers will likely find the tops of their heads come into close contact with the rooflining.
You’ll not be left wanting for storage cubbies in the Citroen C5 X. The glovebox is a good size, and there’s a reasonably large compartment nestled away in the centre console too. A wireless charge pad sits just below the controls for the air conditioning and is large enough to hold some of the bigger smartphones you can get these days.
The front cupholders are deep enough to hold a medium-sized flask or bottle without it falling over while you’re on the move, and the doorbins up front are pretty spacious. In the back you get cupholders in the fold-down armrest, pouches on the backs of the front seats for things like books or maps (or iPads, more likely), and some more doorbins.
The regular petrol-engined versions of the Citroen C5 X come with a large, estate car-style 545-litre boot that’ll easily swallow a couple of large suitcases without too much fuss or bother. That compares well to alternatives such as the Cupra Formentor, but lags behind conventional SUVs such as the Volkswagen Tiguan or full-fat estates such as the Skoda Superb by a fair margin.
Still, the opening is wide and there’s no load lip to speak of, so hauling heavier items in and out of the C5 X will be an easy task. There’s through-loading for longer items, and you can of course fold the rear seats down to open up even more storage space.
That said, it’s worth mentioning that the plug-in hybrid model has a considerably smaller boot. With the need to house a big battery, outright space drops to 485 litres.
The C5 X soft suspension means it majors on comfort and rolling refinement. Its petrol and hybrid powertrains aren’t perfect, however
You get a choice of three different engines with the new C5 X. The most affordable option is based around a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, which develops a modest 130hp. Next comes the larger 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol that churns out 180hp.
Then, at the top of the range sits the 225hp plug-in hybrid. This adds an electric motor and a 12kWh battery into the mix, which allows for a claimed electric-only range of up to 34 miles. All of these engines drive the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission – there’s no option of a manual here.
For most people, the two regular petrol engines will likely do the trick. The 180hp engine is generally pretty smooth and quiet when you’re up and running, and we saw an economy figure of about 37mpg – which isn’t too shabby.
It doesn’t pack a huge amount of punch when you need to quickly get past slow-moving traffic on a country road, however, and because of that you might want to avoid the lower 130hp model altogether.
At low speeds the eight-speed gearbox can also feel a bit lumpy and awkward, and will occasionally give you a soft kick in the back as it swaps gears. Try and bring the car to a gentle standstill, and you’ll find the stop-start system that automatically cuts the engine to reduce emissions to be a bit overly keen too. This results in you lurching to a halt at times, which is a bit undignifying.
The plug-in hybrid model has a bit more punch when you put your foot down, thanks to the instant torque provided by its electric motor. It’s obviously also extremely good at silently wafting around town when you’re running on electric power alone. Citroen says you should be able to get 34 miles of range from the battery, but we saw closer to 18 miles on our test route.
Given the hybrid’s higher price, you’ll probably only want to go for this model if you’re going to be running it as a company car, as you’ll be able to make the most of its far lower benefit-in-kind tax rating. You’ll want to make sure you have access to a home charger too – otherwise you won’t benefit from the lower running costs that plug-in hybrids can bring.
Speaking of charge times, it’ll take you just over 1.5 hours to top the battery up when plugged into a 7kW home wallbox. Use a regular household socket, and that time increases to 5.5 hours.
With its super soft suspension set-up, the Citroen C5 X is generally a supremely comfortable car to mooch about town in. It deals with lumpy stretches of road really nicely, with a souffle-like squish to its body movements. More sudden ruts and bumps can send a bit of a jolt through the cabin, however.
The plug-in hybrid model gets fancy adaptive dampers that let you soften- or firm-up the car’s suspension as you see fit, too. It’s very good, but not good enough that you’ll find yourself justifying the extra cost of the hybrid just to get it. The normal setup works just fine, so we’d stick with that.
Its steering is extremely light, which can take a bit of getting used to. But once you’re keyed in you’ll find it makes the process of navigating the C5 X around tight corners an easy process. Rear visibility isn’t the best thanks to its fat rear pillars, but the standard-fit front and rear parking sensors, as well as its standard-fit reversing camera, step in to help out here.
Out on the motorway it really settles down nicely. The engines all purr away very quietly, and very little wind or road noise is allowed to make its way into the cabin. Adaptive cruise control (standard fit on range-topping ‘Shine Plus’ models) makes life easier on long journeys too. All you need to do is select your preferred speed and the car will automatically maintain a set distance between you and whatever vehicle is travelling in front of you.
Given its soft, spongy suspension setup you might be surprised to find that the C5 X is actually pretty fun on a twisty road. It’s by no means as sporty-feeling as, say, a BMW 5 Series or even a Cupra Formentor; but it controls its roll nicely through corners and grips well. The lightweight steering is completely devoid of feel, but you get used to it eventually.
The stylish interior design is nowhere near as divisive as the exterior, but the infotainment system could be a bit sharper
Citroen C5 X colours
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