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The C5X is an unconventional option in the dwindling D-segment, but the result maxes on comfort and distinctive design.
19in alloy wheels, LED headlights, part leather-effect Advanced Comfort® seats, 10in central touchscreen, Connected 3D Navigation, wireless smartphone mirroring functionality, hi-fi speaker system, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.
130hp 1.2, 180hp 1.6
Sense Plus, Shine, Shine Plus
The biggest compliment we can give the C5X is that after just a few minutes behind the wheel, we could have covered the badges and still known that this car was a Citroën. After all, it has a distinctive design and the iconic French brand has a history of producing interesting big cars, dating back to the Traction Avant of the 1930s. However, its last, the C6, was discontinued in 2016 - so why then is the Double Chevron manufacturer coming back to a class that is largely being swallowed up by SUVs?
Well, the C5X is something different. Unlike rivals such as the Skoda Superb and Vauxhall Insignia, Citroën has come up with its own crossover, as they claim that the C5X offers the elegance of a saloon, the versatility of an estate and the presence of an SUV.
Outside, if you squint, the C5X almost looks like a stretched C4. It follows the same family design cues, with the distinctive "Y-shaped" front lights. Crossover cues include the standard 19in alloy wheels with chunky 205/55 tyres, raised stance and thick wheel arch trims. Bolder from the rear, there's a boot and roof spoiler and similar, large "Y-shaped" rear lights that stretch across the boot.
Built on the same EMP2 platform as other new Stellantis models, such as the recently driven DS DS9, Peugeot 308 and Vauxhall Astra, at 4,805mm long, the C5X is a big car. Still, the size means the inside of the C5X feels spacious, with a high-quality feel. We particularly like the textured dashboard, with the 12in touchscreen for the infotainment on the top of it. Citroën's latest infotainment has simple, clear graphics and is easy to operate. The seats are comfortable, the driving position multi-adjustable, the steering wheel is good to hold and there are welcome physical controls for the ventilation. The only slight issue is when the optional glass sunroof is fitted , which robs headroom. The "chevron" detailing in the cabin trim is also a nice touch and the overall quality seems to have stepped up a notch compared with other models in the range.
Space in the back is also excellent; the only issue for the tallest is the curve of the roofline, as taller passengers will find their head and hair brushing the headlining. Finally, the C5X has a practical hatchback design and a useful 545 litres of bootspace - plus a split/fold rear seat to extend it to a frankly huge 1,640 litres.
The C5X is available with 130 or 180 Puretech petrol engines, or of particular interest to fleet buyers, a plug-in hybrid version - all mated with eight-speed EAT8 automatic transmission. We got to try the 130 Puretech and plug-in hybrid versions, both bookends of the range, which we were told will appeal to the corporate audience.
It is hard to believe that such a big car could work with a 130hp, 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol, but from trying this engine in other Citroën models, we already know it's a strong performer, and apart from steep gradients - it is actually fine. In fact, in our opinion, it's the sweeter drive of the two models that we drove. In the mid-spec Shine trim that we had, the 130 has 136g/km emissions and 31% BIK, and all for £27,990. There is more steering feel for starters and although this Citroën's primary USP, as per the rest of the range is comfort, we felt more involved in the driving experience.
The Plug-in Hybrid 225, on the other hand, boasts 30g/km CO2, 11% BIK, and is priced at a more substantial £36,690. The fact that it can run in electric mode around town, means the plug-in is better at low speeds. The hybrid also gets electronically controlled dampers on top of the standard Progessive Hydraulic Cushions, which does make more of a noticeable difference to the driving modes (Sport, Hybrid, Eco).
Whatever C5X you choose, you'll be impressed with the ride, refinement, bump absorption and comfort that are key here - but at the same time, the dynamics are still decent. There might be a "Sport" mode, but don't expect too much of it. Instead, selecting this just gives the accelerator and steering welcome added resistance.
So, is Citroen on to something with the C5X? According to its representatives there are plenty of people that want an alternative to an SUV, and this Citroën is definitely that. The C5X also has distinctive styling, offers impressive levels of comfort in the well-made, spacious and practical interior and all with keen pricing levels. The plug-in version in particular has especially low running costs. We wish it well.
Citroen C5X Hatch 1.6 PHEV Shine
Residual value: £12,497
Service, maintenance and repair: £2,308
Cost per mile: 46.90p
Fuel consumption: 236.2mpg
CO2 (BIK %): 30g/km (12%)
BIK 20/40% a month: £73/£146
Luggage capacity: 554 litres
Engine size/power: 1,597cc /225hp
Steering lacks feel
Puretech 130 can feel overwhelmed in some situations