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Citroen Sharpens C5 Looks With Face-Lift
High Tech Gizmos Warn Dozy Drivers, Limit Speed, Swivel Headlights
C5s Suspension Still Class Leading
Rating: *** out of 5
The Citroen C5 needed a facelift from the day it was conceived. Its massive, chubby, shapeless frame was in dull contrast to the wonderful machines made by Citroen in the past. Compared with its predecessors, the C5 was just plain dull. Citroen aficionados must have been bitterly disappointed.
Citroen has gone some way to jazzing up the car. The C5s front end has been upgraded to reflect the new corporate look. The headlights sweep into what Citroen calls a boomerang style. There is a new sculpted bonnet, now in aluminium.
The rear end has been tidied up too, with new lamp clusters.
The C5 certainly has more presence than the old model, but not much. The C5 though has received some radical new gizmos which will go some way to setting the car apart from other rivals in this sector, like the Toyota Avensis and Volkswagen Passat.
Right Buttock Gets It
Theres the Lane Departure Warning System, which activates a vibrator if drivers doze off and start to lose control. When the computer detects that the car has started to wander across white lines, it sets off a vibrating mechanism under the right or left side of the drivers seat. If you move to the right, your right buttock gets it; to the left and the left cheek gets zapped. If you dont like it, you can switch it off.
Theres a speed limiter, standard on most new C5s, which you can set to make sure you dont exceed speed limits by more than amount which will get you a ticket. Ive sampled this on the Renault Vel Satis and it is very useful. Driving in rural Gloucestershire though, with what seems like constant changes in the speed limit from 30 mph to 60, back to 40 and then 50, you might wear out the manual setting, or crash into the trees while fiddling with it. A voice controlled system would be better.
Citroen pioneered swivelling headlights in the old DS, and the C5 brings the technology up to date with Xenon Dual Function Directional Headlamps. I didnt drive the car in the dark, so I cant comment on how well this works. There are parking sensors front and rear. All C5s will have 7 airbags, with traction control as standard. All known safety acronyms are incorporated too.
Half of the six petrol and diesel engines are new to the C5 range two latest generation common rail diesel units the 110 bhp 1.6 HDI and 138 bhp 2.0 HDI that claim around 50 mpg fuel economy and low CO2 emissions, as well as a 143 bhp 2.0i 16V petrol power-plant. A new 6-speed automatic gearbox makes its first appearance mated to the 3.0i V6 petrol motor, while a 6-speed manual is fitted to the new 2.0 HDI.
Inside, the dashboard and centre console have been revised, with new style instrument dials.
All this new technology aside, it is the cars ride and handling which sets it apart from the pack. The Hydractive suspension gives a fantastically supple ride, wafting the car effortlessly and quietly over harsh surfaces. At motorway speeds the suspension will automatically adopt a lower, front down stance to improve aerodynamics, stability and fuel economy. On poorer, bumpier surfaces, the suspension is raised to give greater ground clearance. Heavy load carrying is simplified because the Hydractive suspension chooses the right height. There is button you can push to choose a sporty suspension setting. This button will probably be in pristine, unused condition on the day the car goes to the junkyard.
Exceptionally Well Equipped
Prices start at under £15,000 (21,700 euros) with the 1.8i LX coming in at £14,795 (21,395 euros). The cheapest estate car is £15,865 (22,940 euros). Citroen said the C5 is exceptionally well equipped, with every model in the range having 7 airbags, ESP with traction control, an alarm and fully automatic air conditioning equipment that, where available, would add up to £750 (1,100 euros) to the cost of most Mondeos and Vectras.
The 2.0 litre diesel would be my choice. If only the instruments showed you which gear you were in, like in the new Land Rover Discovery.
Neil Winton October 16, 2004
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