If Citroen's C5 is to succeed here, sales of the Tourer estate version are crucial. Just as well that it seems to be a stylish and accomplished product then. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
Citroen's second generation C5 is at its most appealing in Tourer estate guise. It's spacious, stylish and comes equipped with a range of clever convenience features. Some are familiar (like a motorised tailgate), while some are rare or completely unique at this price point (like self-levelling suspension hydractive suspension). Ths model also gets the brand's very clean and frugal BlueHDi diesel engines.
Citroen's C5 saloon is a rare sight on our roads, but the car makes more sense in this Tourer estate guise, especially since Citroen moved to equip the car with frugal BlueHDi diesel power. You get lots of practicality with a 505-litre boot and the most silky-smooth ride you'll get on any estate model in this segment. Can this car offer a credible alternative to the established players in the medium range Mondeo estate sector?
This still isn't the sharpest steer in its sector - think Vauxhall Insignia rather than Ford Mondeo - but it's now there or thereabouts. It's also far better suited to the kind of driving that most of the time, these kinds of cars actually do, thanks to supple ride quality. Go for the top BueHDi 180 variant and you get a choice of suspension set-ups - an important choice for buyers to make. The first option is a conventional arrangement that uses double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link system at the rear - but that won't deliver you the proper Citroen driving experience. Much better to go for the Hydractive 3 Plus self levelling suspension that adapts to the road surface in order to deliver a smooth magic carpet ride. This system lets the driver to select from three modes that offer progressively firmer suspension settings for a sportier driving experience or a more comfortable one as required. The original version of this car carried over most of its engines from the previous generation model but since launch, a lot of work has gone in to improve things. It's an all-diesel line-up now, with the range starting point being a 150bhp BlueHDi unit, also offered in pokier BlueHDi 180 form, where you get an EAT6 auto gearbox.
Design and Build
At 4.83m long and 1.48m tall, the Tourer adds an additional 5cm and 3cm respectively over the Saloon. Load space is abundant, thanks to the Tourer's cavernous boot (505-litres) and split folding rear seats, which can be laid completely flat to create an extensive capacity of nearly 1500 litres - one of the largest in the segment. Access is made simple and convenient by the Tourer's large tailgate, which can be specified in motorised form and allows bulky items to be loaded or unloaded with ease. When placing heavy items into the car, a button located on the rear lowers or raises the car's suspension, bringing the boot floor to a more convenient height. Simply closing the tailgate automatically returns the rear suspension to the correct level. Stylish elements include the black or silver roofbars and dark tinted rear side and tailgate windows. There's also an optional panoramic glass roof. A 12V accessory socket is available for charging or powering electrical devices and a clever dual-function flashlight mounted into the wall of the boot operates as a boot light or a convenient rechargeable hand-held torch. Neat storage solutions can include shopping bag hooks on the boot side walls, side storage nets for stowing loose objects and a luggage cover blind. Ceiling hooks located behind the rear seats and the front seats allow a cargo net to be fitted to retain items during transit.
Market and Model
The C5 range is offered in a choice of two trim levels - VTR+ and Exclusive - and, just like the Saloon, the Tourer (offered at a premium of around £1,100 model for model) is extremely well specified thanks to the standard inclusion of a Techno Pack that adds satellite navigation. Cruise control and a speed limiter, air-conditioning, external roof bars, an acoustic windscreen and an adaptive front-lighting system (AFS) are all fitted as standard, plus you get an automatic electric parking-brake and hill-start assist. For ease of parking and pedestrian safety, the C5 Tourer is also available with front and rear parking sensors, as well as a parking gap assistance system. It's possible to specify your C5 up to a pretty serious level with the higher trim levels benefiting from a raft of desirable gadgets and yet more made available via the options list. The highlights include a massaging driver's seat, the Lane Departure Warning System that warns you if you drift over a white line without indicating and two different kinds of adaptive headlamps that give improved visibility when cornering. There's also a collapsible pedal assembly that protects the driver's legs in the event of an accident. The C5 Tourer's rivals are many and talented. There's the Peugeot 508 with which it shares its engines and many of its underpinnings. An of course obvious rivals like estate versions of the Mazda6, Vauxhall Insignia, Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat.
Cost of Ownership
The 2.0 BlueHDi 150 diesel engine that most C5 Tourer customers will choose delivers strong economy and low emissions - 53.3mpg on the combined cycle and 110g/km of CO2 emissions. The BlueHDi 180 auto variant manages 64.2mpg and 114g/km of CO2. Both the oil-burners in the range are fitted with a diesel particulate filter that cuts particulate emissions to next to nothing. It should all go to make this C5 an environmentally-friendly car and, therefore, an affordable one to run. Citroen dealers are also well known for their aggressive marketing tactics and buyers will doubtless be able to access some very favourable deals on C5 Tourer models. Of course, this kind of discounting tends to have a negative effect on residual values and C5 buyers shouldn't expect a particularly strong performance from the car on the used market.
Assuming that you don't need to carry more than five people, cars like this Citroen C5 Tourer give you a better reason than ever before not to buy one of those compact mini-MPVs that increasingly ply our roads. It does, after all, offer a far more elegant ownership solution. Despite its increased dimensions, the Tourer maintains the elegant styling and aerodynamic qualities of its booted stablemate. With a range of particularly efficient BlueHDi diesel engines and a choice of suspension systems, this Citroen certainly offers an involving driving experience, ideally suited to users who spend hours on the road or seek a secure and spacious transportation for their families and equipment.