Citroen C5 X: It’s different again

Riley Riley

2023 Citroen C5 X Shine 1

What is it?

You can never be quite sure what you will get from Citroen, but it will always be interesting.

Citroen’s C5 X, not to be confused with the Mazda CX-5, is an odd one, a cross between an SUV and a station wagon, with a fastback profile thrown in.

Guess that makes it a double-cross?

Some design features have been drawn from the Citroen CXperience Concept displayed at the 2016 Paris Motor Show.

Citroen says CX 5 meets the needs of customers who want a large, modern, functional alternative to sedans, wagons and SUVs.

In other words, it’s targeted at buyers who fancy something a little different — Citroen buyers notably.

Competitors? Think Outback, Passat Alltrack, Audi Allroad and Volvo Cross Country. It’s certainly big enough, but doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

2023 Citroen C5 X Shine 2

What’s it cost?

There’s just the one fully-loaded model, the five-seat Citroen C5 X Shine, priced from $57,670 plus on-road costs.

If you want any colour apart from Magnetic Blue it’s another $690. 

There’s three greys and a black from which to choose, while premium metallic Pearl White adds $1050.

Standard equipment includes two-zone climate air with rear outlets and ‘Advanced Comfort’ seats trimmed in a combination of leather and synthetic fibre, we’re told for better durability.

With hydraulic cushions, they are designed to deliver living room levels of comfort with special seat padding that acts in the same way as a mattress topper.

The driver’s seat, which features memory settings, gains eight-way power adjustment including fore and aft movement, backrest, seat height, tilt and lumbar adjustments.

The front passenger seat features six-way power adjustment including fore and aft movement, backrest, lumbar and height adjustments for added ergonomic comfort.

Both front seats are heated and so is the steering wheel.

There’s also auto high beam, auto lights and wipers, auto dimming rear view mirror, keyless entry and push-button start, front and rear parking sensors, a sunroof, foot-friendly power tailgate and walk away/walk up automatic locking.

Centrepiece of the C5 X infotainment system is a 12.0-inch touchscreen with voice control that can be activated with the words “Hello CITROËN”.

The system features Bluetooth, satellite navigation, AM/FM and DAB digital radio and wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto plus an eight-speaker no name audio.

The navigation system provides speed limit recognition as well as speed camera warnings which used to be a big ‘no, no’ in French cars — at least those driven in France.

It also comes with a free three-year subscription to online services such as car parking availability, fuel prices and location and TomTom map and speedcam updates.

Screen mirroring means users can customise key functions as their preferred shortcuts as well as set their own user profile and preferred screen ambience.

As well, four USB-C sockets (two front and two rear), there’s two 12-volt power outlets (one in the front console and the other in the boot) plus a wireless smartphone charging pad. 

C5 X comes with a maximum five-star safety rating.

Dual front, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting curtain airbags are standard, but it misses out on a centre airbag to prevent occupant-to-occupant interaction.

Autonomous emergency braking (Car-to-Car, Vulnerable Road User and Junction Assist) as well as a lane support system with lane keep assist (LKA), lane departure warning (LDW) and emergency lane keeping (ELK), and a speed assist system (SAS) are standard equipment.

There’s also head-up display, adaptive cruise control with complete stop and go and a 360-degree bird’s-eye-view camera.  

Top tethers and Isofix mounting points are provided for child seats on the outer rear seats.

C5 X comes with a 5-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, 5-year roadside assistance and 5-year fixed price servicing.

The latter totals $2818 for 60 months or 100,000km.

2023 Citroen C5 X Shine 5

What’s it go like?

Our test vehicle is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged four cylinder engine.

C5 X is also offered with a more powerful hybrid overseas, but not here just yet.

Citroen is saying later in the year, but it’s bound to be more expensive (it doesn’t need that).

The PureTech 180 turbocharged 1.6-litre, four-cylinder unit delivers 133kW of power at 5500 rpm and 250Nm of torque at 1650 rpm.

It’s paired with an eight-speed conventional automatic that drives the front wheels, with paddle shifters and auto engine stop-start to minimise fuel use.

With a 52-litre tank, fuel consumption is rated at 6.0L/100km, it takes premium 95 unleaded and produces 137g/km of CO2.

Top speed is 230km/h top speed and does the dash to 100km/h in 8.1 seconds.

At 4805mm in length, C5 X is fairly long. In fact, we located it in the carpark because the back was poking out.

It’s 1865mm wide and sits 1490mm high, with a 2785mm wheelbase, all of which promises plenty of interior space.

C5 X sits on what is known as the EMP2 platform which it shares with Peugeot (d’accord) as well as Fiat, Toyota and Opel/Vauxhall.

It’s the same platform that underpins the similarly named but slightly smaller C5 Aircross SUV (a vehicle we like a lot).

The newcomer rides on 19-inch alloys shod with skinny 205/55 series rubber with an SUV-like 194mm of ground clearance that makes entry and exit relatively easy, as well as providing a desirable, elevated driving position.

The SUV look is accentuated by matte black protective trim for the wheel arches, bumpers and lower sill sections.

Other touches include a black roof, aerodynamic roof bars, body-coloured door handles and black heated and power-fold mirrors.

Viewed from a distance, C5 X stands tall and skinny, almost as though it is on stilts as the tyres fail to fill out the guards.

Always a mistake.

Airflow is also promoted by a wheel design that uses aerodynamic inserts to create a turbine effect, guiding airflow and lowering wind drag.

While the windscreen, front and rear side glass is acoustically laminated to provide better insulation from external noise and with privacy tinting for the side windows.

The cabin is spacious, with comfy seats, plenty of rear legroom and a large boot area that has metal luggage runners, with a space saver spare hidden under the floor.

But the elevated rear seat and receding roofline make getting in and out of the back unnecessarily difficult, especially getting into the car.

The digital instrument cluster offers different configurations but all are minimalist, with a very large 12.0-inch touchscreen and head-up display projected on the windscreen in  front of the driver.

It takes a bit of trial and error to work out what operates what, but we could simply not find the adjustment for the height of the head-up display.

The drawcard Citroen Advanced Comfort Suspension comprises Mac struts at front and a multi-link system at the rear that is supplemented by hydraulic cushions.

Whereas conventional suspension comprises a shock absorber, spring and mechanical stop, the new system adds hydraulic stops at either end – one for rebound, the other for compression.

It works in two stages: in light conditions the hydraulic cushions don’t come into play but under heavy load the cushions slow suspension travel instead of bringing it to an abrupt stop, absorbing and dissipating energy to reduce rebound.

That’s the theory anyway.

The suspension works in tandem with the Advanced Comfort Seats, to supposedly deliver a “magic carpet” ride.

Our initial impression was of a soft, pillowy ride more akin to the infamous American drive experience. 

We had however just got out of a full-on sports car with firm ride and sharp handling.

As the week progressed, the ride in C5 X began to feel better and admittedly more comfortable.

Banging along one of our favourite stretches of back road, pot-holed from recent rain, it did to a large extent smooth out the ride as promised.

At the same time handling remained predictable, but there was some bounce as the suspension unloaded with the rise and fall of the road.

With just 250Nm of torque, we weren’t expecting fireworks in the performance department.

C5 X can be a bit slow out of the gates, particularly with some passengers aboard.

Once it’s up and running it’s more than adequate, with plenty of oomph available for overtaking and long grinding hills — although one needs to wind it up.

The gear selector is small and the same as that offered by Peugeot, operated by a tug of the finger. There’s three drive modes: Sport, Normal and Eco.

Throttle response is a little jerky while the brakes can be a bit abrupt too.

Other than that it’s all fairly middle of the road, or just right for the family which is obviously the primary objective.

We were getting 6.4L/100km after more than 900km which is close to the manufacturer’s claim.

2023 Citroen C5 X Shine 3

What we like?

  • Wagon style
  • Comfortable ride 
  • Competitive pricing
  • Long equipment list

2023 Citroen C5 X Shine 4

What we don’t like?

  • Skinny tyres
  • Pillowy ride
  • Occupants jostled over verges 
  • Jerky throttle response
  • Abrupt braking
  • Takes 95 unleaded

2023 Citroen C5 X Shine 8

The bottom line?

What does Citroen have to do to get noticed?

Cars such as the C5 X help. It’s competitively priced and has a long equipment list, and the ‘Comfort’ suspension provides a point of difference.

But let’s face it, Citroen is on a hiding to nothing, under pressure from both ends of the market, caught between mainstream competitors and Chinese hopefuls which will win on price every time.

2023 Citroen C5 X Shine 7

CHECKOUT: Citroen C5 X — Citroen’s cross-bred wagon

CHECKOUT: Citroen C5 Aircross: Broken Hill and back


Citroen C5 X Shine, priced from $57,670
  • Looks - 7.5/10
  • Performance - 7/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 8/10

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