Based on PSA’s new Platform 3 (which later underpinned the Peugeot 407), the C5’s clean and crisp detailing couldn’t hide its awkward take on the classic, three-box profile. The latest iteration of Citroën’s hydraulic suspension boasted increased computing power, acting by way of six fluid-filled spheres.
Despite a lack of charm, the budget-friendly 16-valve petrol engine delivered reasonable performance via five well-chosen ratios in a slick manual gearbox. It cruised quietly and the brakes were sensitive but effective.
The hydraulic suspension adapted to speed, driving style and road surface, and could raise the ride height by up to 53mm.
It helped produce breathtaking ride comfort, although numb steering meant the dynamic experience was more enjoyable for passengers than the driver.
The C5 had decent rear leg room and an enormous boot. Driver comfort was excellent and interior finishes were top drawer. Entry-level kit included rain-sensitive wipers, six airbags, auto locking and air-con.
FOR Equipment, big boot, good seats, gearchange AGAINST Numb steering and brakes, dubious styling
Price £14,580 Engine 4 cyls in line, 1749cc, petrol Power 117bhp at 5500rpm Torque 120lb ft at 4000rpm 0-60mph 11.4sec 0-100mph 38.0sec Standing quarter 18.3sec, 76mph Top speed 119mph Economy 28.1mpg
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT… A 2004 facelift introduced a 110bhp 1.6-litre diesel, more interior space and new gizmos such as optional lane departure warning. The Mk2 C5 replaced the hatch with a saloon in 2008, alongside the estate version. Mild facelifts in 2011 and 2012 failed to ignite sales and it was withdrawn from UK sale in 2016. The name returned to Europe in 2018 on the C5 Aircross SUV.