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Citroen C5 X Review

8 / 10
21 March 2024
Citroen C5 X review image front three quarters

The Citroen C5 X is the company's latest attempt to steal buyers from posher brands, and would you just look at the thing.

It has lots of presence in the car park. The body is long and low, with the chrome front-end detailing emphasising the car's width. Dramatic headlight units and blacked-out pillars feel more 'concept car' than road car, and the big wheels and jacked-up suspension give it the 'power stance' of an SUV without the boxy profile.

What we like:
  • Concept-car looks
  • Practical, comfortable interior
  • Great value as a used car
What we don't like:
  • Not particularly fun to drive
  • Skoda Superb is even larger
  • A few cheap-feeling details in the cabin

Should I buy a Citroen C5 X?

Citroen's been making large cars for years with varying degrees of success. Legendary models like the CX, XM and C6 earned plenty of praise from reviewers, but struggled to draw buyers away from traditional German rivals that hold a tight grip on the premium segment. Undeterred, Citroen has tried again with a new formula – this is the Citroen C5 X.

Beyond the show-stopping looks, there are lots of sensible reasons to like the C5 X. There's loads of passenger space, and a big, square cargo area that's easy to access.

Citroen's been smart with the C5 X's interior, stripping away lots of unnecessary details that would add cost but without leaving the place feeling spartan. You'll find soft leather or pleather upholstery trimming every model as standard, along with some tasteful wood panels and soft-touch surfaces to help you sink deeper into the armchair-like seats.

Drivers looking for an estate that can moonlight as a sports car won't be impressed by the C5 X but, on the whole, it pulls off being a big, comfy cruiser fairly well. The taller ride height and Citroen's 'Advanced Comfort' suspension do a reasonably good job of isolating the cabin from big bumps, but you will notice some lean if you get too cocky with your cornering.

There aren't any bad engines in the lineup, but there's not much choice either. There's a pair of turbo petrol engines with either 130 or 180hp, and a plug-in hybrid with 225hp – and that's it. All engines are powerful enough to get the car up to motorway speeds without complaint and the standard-fit eight-speed automatic gearbox behaves itself in most situations. High-mileage drivers will be disappointed at the lack of a diesel option, however.

So the C5 X has a couple of niggles but, generally, it's a very likeable car, and one that deserves praise for valuing comfort above any misplaced desire to be 'sporty'. Plus, you'll find it becomes even more tempting when you look at the price because the big Citroen undercuts most of the premium rivals in this segment, with only the Skoda Superb – another truly excellent all-rounder – landing in the same ballpark.

Interior and technology

Citroen joins several other car brands in embracing minimalism in its cabin design. As such, the C5 X doesn't distract the eye with frills and, instead, makes simple, tasteful use of some reasonably nice materials to create a comfortable space to spend time. Only when you descend to the lower reaches of the interior will you spot a few cheaper switches and plastics shared with more affordable Citroen models.

The seats are comfortable in quite a traditional way – you sink into their thick padding and the stitched details put us in mind of a sofa rather than a sporty driver's seat. It took us a few goes to get a driving position we were happy with in the C5 X, however. There's lots of adjustability including standard-fit lumbar adjustment, but we found ourselves instinctively setting the seat too low as if the car were an estate, when it makes more sense if you sit higher and embrace the car's taller SUV-like ride height.

All cars get a big touchscreen infotainment system as standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is a recent iteration of a setup shared among many Citroen, Peugeot, DS and Vauxhall models, and it's a marked improvement on older versions. Responses are pretty quick and the on-screen buttons are now large enough to hit at a glance. The Citroen also benefits from having a less fussy user interface than its platform mates.

Bigger news can be found below the screen, however. After we and many other reviewers complained for years about Citroen moving the climate controls to the touchscreen, the company's finally seen sense and reintroduced proper physical knobs and buttons in the C5 X to adjust heat and A/C settings. These are easy to use without taking your eyes off the road and feel good in your fingers – five points to Citroen!


The C5 X measures 4.8 metres in length – longer than a BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class, and just shy of the Skoda Superb. That makes it one of the larger cars on the road but, thankfully, standard-fit all-round parking sensors and a reversing camera mean it's not too tricky to squeeze into tight spaces.

Front passenger space is excellent and, once you've gotten used to it, the slightly raised ride height gives you a confident view of the road ahead. There's handy storage in the centre console, which doubles as a comfy place to rest your arm, and – oddly enough for a French car – a proper, full-size glove box.

Rear seat space is important in this class and the C5 X makes a strong showing here. There's plenty of room to stretch out, even if you're well over six-foot tall and sat behind a similarly lofty front passenger. The back seats are trimmed with the same soft upholstery and padding found up front, and are suitably reclined for long distance comfort. Some compromise is demanded by the centre-rear fifth seat, however, because the large transmission tunnel means you'll be sharing foot space as well as elbow room with the other two passengers.

The boot's on-paper capacity is 545 litres, which is only mid-table for an estate. In practice, however, the space is wide, deep and tall, which makes it easy to max out the boot space with suitcases or flatpack furniture. The gaping hatchback-style boot opening is excellent for loading bulky objects and there's almost no load lip for your four-legged friend to step over. In fact, the only time the boot really falls short is if you compare it directly to models like the Skoda Superb Estate, which is even more cavernous and has more handy hooks and tie-downs.

Engines and performance

There aren't any engine options in the C5 X lineup we'd avoid, but that's mainly because there's generally not much choice to be had. Your options boil down to a pair of turbo petrol engines and a single plug-in hybrid – all mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Our test car came equipped with the entry-level 1.2-litre 130hp petrol engine and it's a good match to the C5 X. It feels punchier than its advertised output, and delivers most of its power low down in the rev range, which means there's always plenty of grunt to pull away from a standstill, or nip into gaps in traffic. Even as speeds rise up to the national limit, the engine doesn't run out of puff, which means the standard automatic gearbox doesn't have to hunt around if you demand a burst of power.

Any downsides only become evident in direct comparison to rivals. The automatic gearbox, for example, is unlikely to annoy you in regular driving but, if you try out an equivalent BMW, you might spot the German car is just a fraction more smooth. You might also find that the 1.2-litre engine isn't the quietest engine you can buy, with a faint grumble audible at most speeds and an angrier warble if you stab the throttle pedal. That said, the actual engine noise itself isn't the harshest we've heard, so most drivers will be able to live with this.

The next step up is a 180hp 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine. We're yet to try this engine and it seems to be fairly rare on the used market. The on-paper figures suggest it won't be much faster than the 1.2-litre model so we reckon it's probably not worth the upgrade.

Right at the top is the 225hp plug-in-hybrid model. Using the battery pack alone, the C5 X can cover a little over 30 miles on electric power, which could be enough for your commute. If you recharge often and use both the battery and engine effectively, you might see efficiency figures as high as 180mpg. This is a good choice if you have ready access to an EV charger but probably isn't worth the extra cost and hassle for buyers who don't.

Driving and comfort

From the outside, you might not think the C5 X looks especially sporty – and, once behind the wheel, you'll find you're pretty much on the money. This is a comfortable cruiser that's happy to leave any pretensions of 'sportiness' to whippersnappers like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.

The controls are faithful and accurate but give little sense of feedback, so you're not going to be gleaning information about front-wheel grip through your fingertips. They are at least light, however, so you won't have to muscle the steering wheel when manoeuvring into a parking space.

Launch the car at a corner with a little too much exuberance and you'll find the body leans over towards the outer side. Quick direction changes also cause it to wobble slightly over its wheels, blunting any sense of immediacy when you turn the wheel.

If you can cool your temper and embrace the cruiser lifestyle, however, the C5 X makes a lot more sense. The comfy seats, light controls and smooth power delivery soothe your senses, and the soft suspension wafts over cracks in the road and dampens vibrations from rough surfaces. It's a looser, more fluid sensation than you'll get in the likes of a BMW 3 Series, although it can get caught out and send a thump into the cabin if you aim directly for a particularly large pothole.

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