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Citroen C5 HDi 173PS Exclus. 5dr man

Date: 28 June 2006

Category: Upper medium Price: £15,295-£22,500
On sale: Aug '06 Key rival: Renault Laguna

Citroen has joined the growing number of carmakers developing a new range-topping diesel for its upper medium models. The C5's 173PS 2.2-litre unit, also heading for Peugeot's 407 and various other PSA group products, follows on from the likes of Renault's Laguna and, more recently, the Toyota Avensis, as the market for more powerful oil burners increases.

Citroen's C5 slipped just out of the top 100 fleet sellers last year, and the French brand is hoping to boost the car's fortunes with the new unit, developed as part of PSA Peugeot-Citroen's relationship with Ford.

The engine slots in above Citroen's existing 2.0 HDi, and gives an extra 37PS for the penalty of 0.5mpg and an extra BIK group, taking the new C5 to the 22% banding.

It's an impressive engine too, perfectly mated to the C5's relaxed driving character. It pulls surprisingly strongly from very low revs, uncharacteristic for a diesel, thanks to the dual-turbo engine, a world first on a four cylinder diesel.


As well as impressive acceleration, it's also refined, with noise and vibration well contained both around town and at motorway speeds, where wind noise drowns out any hint of diesel clatter.

Despite chief rival Renault's Laguna new big diesel branded as a GT to hint at sportiness, the C5's all about comfort. The car's old dynamic foibles still remain, it's far better at long-distance comfortable cruising than it is through the bends. Other rivals already on sale also point more at a sporting diesel, with Ford's Mondeo diesel also being used in the ST TDCi model, though we've put the C5 up against the Titanium X trim in this case. We've also thrown in Vauxhall's 3.0-litre diesel Vectra. Though the V6 is a much bigger unit, power and acceleration figures are very close. Other new rivals include Toyota's new 177PS D-4D Avensis, though the final costs figures are yet to be confirmed.

The C5 is likely to be priced in the region of £22,500, which puts it within touching distance of all its main rivals, and the standard spec is good with cruise control, dual-zone aircon, six-CD changer and seven airbags all standard in the Exclusive trim driven here. There's also likely to be a fleet-friendly VTX version, continuing Citroen's trend of trying to attract company car drivers with a low P11D, good standard equipment and no dealer discount. This method gets around the problem of Citroen's traditionally retail focussed discounting and cashback offers.

The C5's relative exclusivity makes it a worthy choice if you value comfort over driving appeal, and the new engine is a good addition to the range.