For many years, Citroen has been a byword for comfort and a champion of the long-distance journey. The latest additions to the firm’s model line-up look to build on this with the addition of some very clever plug-in hybrid technology, so step forward the C5 X plug-in hybrid – the latest member of our long-term fleet.
Now I’ve always had something of a soft spot for the French car maker. Growing up, my dad worked for a dealership that sold Peugeots and Citroens, and he’d always be coming home in a variety of what I thought were ‘quite unusual’ cars, like the GSA, Visa GTI, 2CV and CX Safari. I know I’m showing my age a bit now, but these cars really were quirky and unique, but above all, extremely comfortable.
We used to take the CX Safari – which was affectionately nicknamed Ecto 1 from Ghostbusters – over to the mountains for the annual ski holiday, and even then I was amazed by the space that was in there. Not only that, the ride was so comfortable that I’d often end up asleep sprawled across the back seat.
These cars all had character, something that has been missing from the brand in recent years, but it looks like some of that quirkiness is making a reappearance and it’s refreshing to see in the latest models coming from the brand.
Let’s kick off with the styling of the C5 X. Now I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there is something quite striking and stands out about the C5 X. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s a large five-door family hatchback, but it looks much bigger than it actually is, thanks to that floating roofline and narrow side windows, not to mention the shallow boot which we’ll get onto in a minute.
Even in this white colour, it really stands out, and even a couple of my friends, who are badge snobs and are only impressed if I’m driving something from Germany with an M or RS on the badge, even had nice things to say about it.
Now, anyone familiar with our long-term fleet will know that for the past few months, I’ve been running around in a Cupra Formentor, which to be fair was a lot of fun. Underneath it had the running gear from a Golf R and it had ample space for kit and crew, not to mention was able to keep up with some of the more spirited drivers on shoots. The Citroen on the other hand is a completely different kettle of fish.
Already it’s adjusted to life on the video team extremely well and has made those journeys up and down the M6 an absolute breeze. The ride is so comfortable and the automatic gearbox makes life much easier too. This isn’t a car that you drive for thrills, you just sit back and let it take you to your destination.
It comes with a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine linked to a small electric motor and a reasonably sized battery. Now what I’ve come to love about the PHEV is that every time I’m at home I’ll pop it on charge and that gives me about 30 miles to play with pottering around town, whether that’s taking pooch for a walk or popping to the shops.
Citroen claims you can get up to 282 mpg from the C5 X if you drive it carefully, but that figure is no doubt based on the car being fully charged. Once the battery is depleted though, you’ll find the engine is working that little bit harder as it’s not being helped by the juice in the battery which in turn is not helping the MPG figures. Once on petrol power it’s averaging around 30mpg which is a far cry from Citroens figures.
Now as I mentioned, I do use it to take my dog Marley to the beach for walks, the problem is though, he’s a big dog, and while the boot is quite large, it’s very shallow, so not particularly suitable for him. Instead, I’ve had to purchase one of those dog covers for the back seats with a seat belt harness every time we go walkies. I’m sure he’s not complaining about it though, it just means he gets to look forward rather than going backwards as he did in the boot of the Formentor.
It will be interesting to see how we get on with the C5 X over the next few months and whether the cold weather will affect the charge and range, as well as all the usual tests that befall it being part of the video team.
- Model: Citroen C5 X
- Price: £27,790
- Model as tested: Citroen C5 X Shine Plus Plug-in Hybrid 225
- Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol with electric motor
- Power: 222bhp
- Torque: 360Nm
- 0-60mph: 7.7 seconds
- Top speed: 145mph
- Economy: 186.2-236.2mpg
- Emissions: 30g/km CO2x