The most impressive thing about the C5’s performance is its refinement. Once you get used to it, the car’s serenity is actually the centre of its appeal, and a characteristic rather at odds with the Germanic influence. On the road the C5 still feels unmistakably Citroen. In an era of increasingly identical products, that’s a good thing.
If money were no object then the range-topping 3.0 HDi V6 would be the pick of the range, on performance. Its 0-60mph time of 8.2 seconds isn’t shabby and a claimed top speed of 150mph should be enough for most people, while the general sense of effortlessness of its delivery suits the C5 character brilliantly.
However, few C5 owners, mostly fleet customers, are going to want a V6 diesel — on and depreciation grounds Our pick of the range is the 2.0-litre HDi with a manual transmission. It’s a happy compromise between responsiveness, pace and economy, and this new engine is a big improvement in refinement over the 2.2 it replaced in 2009. You must also spec this engine or above to get the high-tech Hydractive 3 suspension.
The 1.6 HDi looks tempting thanks to 61.4mpg claimed combined economy, but the bigger diesel or the more powerful turbocharged petrol engine will be easier to live with – and in a car of this size and weight you’re more likely to achieve the 2.0-litre’s 53.3mpg claimed combined than the smaller motor’s higher test-lab figure.