Make and model: Citroën C5 X
Description: Large five-door liftback
Price range: £28,695 – £39,960 (plus options)
Citroën says: “The C5 X breathes new life into the large car segment with an original design that combines a saloon and a station wagon, an innovative proposition in the purest tradition of great Citroën cars.”
We say: The Citroën C5 X defines its own car segment that takes the best of an estate and mixes it with a higher stance on the road. It’s quirky yet practical, and offers a relaxing driving experience.
Introduced in 2021, the C5 X is Citroën’s flagship model. It’s essentially a 21st-century successor to previous big Citroën liftback models like the CX and BX from the 1970s and ’80s, but featuring the higher-riding characteristics of a modern crossover vehicle.
The high-riding liftback body style is growing in popularity, with several car brands embracing this style of vehicle. We recently reviewed the mechanically similar Peugeot 408, while electric cars like the Polestar 2 and Genesis GV60 also embrace car-like styling with the higher seating position of an SUV.
For those looking for a car leaning more towards an SUV style, the Citroën C5 Aircross could be a good alternative. Compared to the endless model range of most German brands, the pared-back Citroën line-up is a good mix of family-friendly cars that are stylish, economical and affordable.
As of October 2023, 32 different UK media reviews of the Citroën C5 X have earned the car a very creditable overall Expert Rating of 73% on The Car Expert’s award-winning Expert Rating Index. As a result, it was awarded Best Large Car in our 2022 Car of the Year awards.
What is the Citroën C5 X?
Citroën describes the C5 X as a cross between a laarge saloon and an estate but it’s also got some SUV roots in the mix, with a higher ride height which makes it easy to get in and out of. Translated, that makes it a high-riding liftback (like a hatchback but with a much sleeker rear tailgate)
Although it sounds like a Frankenstein’s monster of different car design, the result is rather sleek. Liftback-style cars have always been a feature of UK roads, although their popularity has waxed and waned over the years. The C5 X competes with the likes of the Skoda Octavia and Superb Estate, Peugeot 408, Audi A5 Sportback and Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake.
The C5 X’s styling is similar to that of its slightly smaller sibling, the Citroën e-C4 X, and its Peugeot 408 cousin. Against a backdrop of boxy SUVs and samey saloons, it grabs attention without even trying. Inside, it feels suitably upmarket and spacious, a quirky option with more practicality than a conventional saloon.
Each model in the range is generously equipped, and there’s a choice of petrol or plug-in hybrid engine options. Inside, it feels suitably upmarket and solidly finished. The sloping roof adds headroom for rear seat passengers compared to a saloon, but it does reduce visibility out of the rear window.
We like: Attractive exterior styling…
We don’t like: … which limits visibility through the rear windscreen
What do you get for your money?
Trim levels start with ‘Sense Plus’, followed by ‘Shine’ and the range-topping ‘Shine Plus’. The entry-level Sense Plus is well-equipped and comes with a ten-inch touchscreen display, front and rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera with a rear 180-degree top-down view. Paired with the 130hp petrol engine, it starts at around £28K. If you prefer the plug-in hybrid version, the price tag gets pushed up to about £36.5K.
Shine adds a 12-inch touchscreen display, wireless phone charging and a heated leather steering wheel. This trim can be specified with three different engine options, ranging from just over £29K up to £38K for the plug-in hybrid.
Shine Plus adds features such as a 360-degree camera, a powered boot lid with hands-free access, and a few exterior styling tweaks to distinguish it from the lower models. The top-level trim is the only version where the optional panoramic sunroof can be added, for an extra £1,300. Shine and Shine Plus can be specified with roof bars, which cost £200. As the range-topping trim, Shine Plus is the priciest of the lot, starting from £31K and running up to £40,000 before adding any options.
On value for money, we’d opt for Sense Plus and later on in this article, we’ll discuss which engine option would be the best to pair it with. If there’s room to squeeze the budget, Shine has a few luxury perks that could be worth upgrading for. Good predicted residual values mean there should be some competitive finance options too.
The Citroën C5 X comes with an unlimited-mileage warranty that lasts two years.
We like: Well equipped from entry-level
We don’t like: Shorter warranty period than most rivals
What’s the Citroën C5 X like inside?
From the driver’s seat, the C5 X earns its flagship status. It offers a comfortable, modern, fuss-free interior that’s easy to get familiar with. Climate control is operated via buttons and dials under the main media screen, while shortcut buttons on the steering wheel make it simple to find essential functions on the move.
The operating system powering the media touchscreen is not particularly intuitive, so most drivers will probably use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (which can be paired either wired or wirelessly) for most of their screen interactions. The piano black finish around the screen and centre console is indicative of the high quality touch points throughout the cabin.
There’s a useful cubby below the climate controls to charge and store phones and the central armrest is a good place for sunglasses and other bits and bobs. In the back, the fairly flat bench means all passengers get an equal amount of headroom. When there’s no central passenger an armrest folds out of this seat with additional cupholders.
Thanks to the liftback body, the boot is tallest close to the rear seats (which fold in a conventional 60/40 split) and easily swallows several bags of luggage. A squarer estate body style would offer more space for bulky objects, but the liftback will suit the vast majority of family needs.
We like: Practical storage and ample space throughout
We don’t like: Media system not as intuitive as it should be
What’s under the bonnet?
There are three engines to choose from, two conventional petrol options and a plug-in hybrid. The entry-level offering is a 1.2-litre, 130hp engine that can be specified with any of the trim levels. It does a reasonable job of moving the C5 X along fairly quickly, although you won’t be outpacing most traffic with a 0-60mph time of more than ten seconds.
Next is a 1.6-litre petrol engine capable of 180hp. This engine is more enthusiastic than the 130hp unit, getting up to 60mph from a standstill in under nine seconds, and copes better with more passengers or luggage. The plug-in hybrid also features this engine combined with a 110hp electric motor. Its official battery range is 34 miles but in real world conditions this can be slightly less.
While the plug-in hybrid engine has a higher price tag, it’s worth considering for the fuel economy benefits and as a company car. However, plug-in hybrids only return impressive fuel figures if they are regularly charged. Having a charging point at home and getting into the habit of plugging the car in will maximise the fuel savings of a hybrid.
With the entry-level 130hp engine, official fuel economy is around 41 to 48mpg. The 180hp unit delivers 38 to 44mpg, while the plug-in claims 186 to 236mpg – these numbers are obviously nonsense and are simply a reflection of inadequate EU/UK government lab testing procedures. There’s no way you will get anywhere near 186 miles on one gallon (4.5 litres) of petrol and some electricity. In real-world driving, your fuel consumption will depend entirely on how often you are able to plug in the car to charge, ensuring you use electricity for as much driving as possible.
For those looking to tow, the 180hp engine is the best option with a braked tow weight of up to 1,600kg. The plug-in hybrid can tow 1,350kg and the 130hp models can handle up to 1,050kg. Roof bars on all specifications can handle 80kg.
What’s the Citroën C5 X like to drive?
The Citroën C5 X features a hydraulic suspension system, which makes for a wafty ride on undulating country roads. On harsher potholed surfaces, it stays settled for the most part but can feel a little jolty around tight bends or changing lanes over a section of broken road.
The plug-in hybrid we drove was very quiet, calming at all speeds and comfortable on long journeys. As visibility out the back is limited due to the sloping roofline, the reversing camera and parking sensors are essential to negotiate tight spaces.
Looking out of the front, the pillars encasing the windscreen are quite thick so at the wrong angle it can be difficult to see past them but the elevated ride height gives good front visibility otherwise. The ride height makes it comfortable to get in and out of the car and on the road it’s easy to get used to its positioning.
We like: All models come with a reversing camera as standard
We don’t like: Chunky pillars next to windscreen impede visibility at junctions
Whether it’s destined to be used as a family car or a practical runaround that’s easy to get in and out of, the Citroën C5 X is a great choice. The crossover body gets points for style and practicality so this quirky car is an affordable way to stand out in the car park.
The head-up display from Shine trim upwards gives the C5 X a premium feel and makes it relaxing to drive over long periods of time as all the key information is displayed in the driver’s line of sight. The media system can take a little while to get used to but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are a great addition for an intuitive display.
If you’re looking for something a bit different, that feels sturdy and can fit passengers and all their luggage in then look no further. The entry-level engine and trim are a well-equipped combination and, if the budget stretches to it, the plug-in hybrid is a relaxing economical ride.
C5 X highlights
- Affordable entry-level pricing
- Cabin refinement
- Spacious interior
- Distinctive exterior looks
C5 X lowlights
- SUV alternatives offer more boot space
- Lethargic handling
- Plug-in hybrid is expensive
- Awkward automatic gearbox
If you’re looking at the Citroën C5 X, you might also be interested in these alternatives.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio | Audi A5 Sportback | BMW 3 Series | BMW X3 | BMW X4 | Citroën ë-C4 | DS 7 Crossback | Genesis G70 | Genesis GV70 | Jaguar F-Pace | Lexus NX | Mercedes-Benz GLC | Polestar 2 | Peugeot 408 | Skoda Octavia | Subaru Levorg | Volkswagen Tiguan | Volvo V60 | Volvo XC60
Model tested: Citroën C5 X Shine Plus PHEV
Price as tested: £42,010
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol/electric plug-in hybrid
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Power: 225 hp
Torque: 250 Nm
Top speed: 145 mph
0-62 mph: 7.9 seconds
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