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Citroen C5 VTX+: First Drive

Date: 05 January 2007   |   Author:

Citroen C5 VTX+
Category: Upper medium
Prices: £15,595 - £22,295
Key rival: Renault Laguna

Ah, the fleet special. Traditionally, those words might have accompanied the efforts of some manufacturer or another bunging some alloys on old stock to lift the appeal of an unpopular or ageing model. But not any more.

We brought you the first drive of Saab's new business-aimed Airflow trim late in 2006, but Citroen actually got there first. However, they've only just been able to supply us with a car kitted out in the corporate VTX+ trim.

Citroen C5-VTX+

VTX+ is seen as a corporate-only offering because it's not subject to the hefty discounts buyers can traditionally expect the moment they walk into a Citroen showroom. Citroen has given business drivers something of a leg-up by cutting the P11D yet increasing the kit count, compared with the VTX trim on which it's based. So for drivers whose corporate policy prevents them raiding the options list, satnav, six-CD changer, metallic paint, cruise control, climate control and seven airbags are all listed under the column marked standard equipment.

Which left us with something of a dilemma when pitching the VTX+ - fitted here with the new 2.2-litre 173PS engine - against its rivals. Neither of the corporate 'big two' - Ford and Vauxhall - have a suitable engine for comparison purposes, so we looked to a French pair in the form of Renault's Laguna and the Peugeot 407, and a slightly more upmarket Toyota Avensis. To spec any of these to the C5's level means adding something in the region of £3500 to the price tag, at which point the two French models come out around 4p per mile more than the Citroen's 33.9p. Interestingly, though, the C5's heavier depreciation (according to Topcalc) despite its lower P11D leaves it at the same level as the Avensis - just under the 34ppm level.

The other way of looking at the VTX+ is to take it as a model with several tonnes of extra spec and plenty of extra power, and compare it with other cars at the same price. It costs the same as the 130PS 1.9-litre Laguna and 136PS 2.0-litre 407, but both are slightly cheaper to run over three years, although you'll miss out on most of the C5's toys, most importantly satnav. The Avensis, in the £17,500 bracket, is significantly cheaper to run at sub-29ppm, but again the toys aren't there.

Aside from impressive costs, there are other reasons to consider the C5. It's set up for heading in a straight line as comfortably as possible - which, predictably, makes for a great motorway cruiser, if cumbersome when the road gets twisty. But the C5 isn't bought as an enthusiast's motor, it's a tool, and the VTX+ makes Citroen's most compelling business case yet.