Citroën’s restyled C5 is an oddball… an executive-sized saloon, erm, hatch, with a speedo’ marked in uneven increments, and adaptable Hydractive suspension. It’s an acquired taste… but arguably the safest and most comfortable cruiser in its segment.Citroën’s restyled C5 is an oddball… an executive-sized saloon, erm, hatch, with a speedo’ marked in uneven increments, and adaptable Hydractive suspension. It’s an acquired taste… but arguably the safest and most comfortable cruiser in its segment.


The C5, sporting Citroën’s new corporate face – the double chevron integrated into the grille – and boomerang-shaped headlights and rear lights that match the contours of the bonnet and bootlid, was launched in South Africa this week.


It is the first of a host of products that the French company’s South African subsidiary plans to roll out this year, and the C5’s latest claim to fame is that it achieved the highest individual safety score (36 out of 37) ever recorded during Euro NCAP safety test sessions.


The biggest news from a consumer point of view, however, is that C5 models will be offered with higher specification – but lower prices – than those they replace. All models offer seven airbags (front, side, and curtain units plus a “knee bag” in the steering column), ABS with EBD and brake assist, front-loading CD player, height- and reach-adjustable steering wheel, cruise control with over-speed warning, ASR, and an updated version of Citroën’s ESP system, which operates via steering wheel and yaw sensors to detect the first signs of understeer or oversteer. It can also control braking during cornering, and offers a "brake pad drying" function to optimise brake response in rainy weather.


On the road, the car’s occupants feel insulated from the outside world thanks to a cavernous cabin, laminated windows all-round, dual-zone climate control, and an extremely supple ride (by compact car standards). The new central facia console is similar to that found on the C5’s cousin, the Peugeot 407, and there is a brushed aluminium-look finishing strip that links the upper and lower parts of the facia.


The 2,0-litre models are equipped with 16-valve VVT EW10A powerplants that produce 103 kW, and peak torque of 200 N.m at 4 000 r/min. The manual version, which was at the press corps’ disposal during the local launch’s ride and drive, impressed with its sheer “waftability”... At 110 km/h, the C5’s Hydractive suspension lowers the front of the car by 10 mm in front and six mm at the rear to decrease the car’s drag coefficient and optimise roadholding.


The clutch was extremely easy to operate, the gear changes were as soft as butter, and the variable power-assisted steering feather-light, so much so that the C5’s controls would be an anathema to those accustomed to the hustling responses of sporty German or Italian compact saloons.


The 3,0-litre flagship version of the range offers more excitement in the performance stakes, however… It gets the Hydractive Plus suspension (with built-in hydroelectronic interface), which firms up the suspension in extreme manoeuvres (or in sport mode). The 24-valve V6 develops 152 kW, and 285 N.m of torque at 3 750 r/min, and is mated with a new Aisin AM6 auto-adaptive six-speed automatic transmission.


For a price premium of R70 000 over the 2,0 automatic, the 3,0 offers additional leather trim, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive xenon headlights, electric front seat adjustment, tyre pressure monitors, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. A new 2,0-litre turbodiesel model will be added to the range later this year.


:: Want to know more? A comprehensive road test of the C5 3,0i appears in the February edition of CAR, on sale now. ::


New C5s are sold with three-year/100 000km warranties and five-year/100 000km maintenance plans