Road testing the first-generation C5 almost ten years ago is an experience firmly etched in my memory bank.
Be sure that has nothing to do with its dull 'jelly mould' design or its plastic deluxe interior that would put an older-generation Japanese car to shame. The C5 started appealing to me when I thought to myself: “I'm sure I just went over a huge speed hump, but I didn't feel anything.”
Long story short, after tackling that fat speed nanny many times over at a gradually increasing velocity, I found myself tackling it at speeds that would probably have sent any other vehicle flying onto the pavement. And all this with nothing more than a gentle thud.
I instantly counted myself as a fan of Citroën's Hydractive suspension, which provides nothing short of a 'magic carpet' ride and great handling to boot. That's why I was disappointed to find this piece of hydraulic suspension wizardry missing from the entry-level version of this very latest C5, the 155 THP.
Despite this, I can't say I'm disappointed by the modern C5. The styling, for starters, is leaps and bounds ahead. While perhaps a bit too mainstream for Citroën traditionalists, even resembling a BMW from some angles, it's a great fusion of sporty and elegant vibes and that continues in the cabin.
The dash design is certainly distinctive, the cherry on top being that fixed-hub steering wheel that allows the fitment of a larger airbag, and the material quality is nothing to be sniffed at. Those front seats are both supportive and cushy too. I would have expected more rear legroom from a car in this class though, although it's by no means cramped.
The 155 THP model extends the reach of Citroën's C5 to those shopping around the R300 000 bracket (the only other models, 2.0 and 3.0 diesels, approach the R400K mark). It's fitted with a 1.6-litre turbopetrol engine, credited with 115kW at 6000rpm and 240Nm at 1400rpm.
Given the much lower price, this engine is actually the perfect match for the C5. It's not overly thirsty, with its average consumption claimed at 7.7 litres per 100km, and it's a reasonably good performer. Sure, it's not a performance car by any stretch of the imagination, but it's as rapid as you'd expect from a large sedan at this end of the market and it delivers its urge smoothly enough through its six-speed automatic gearbox.
Chuck it into some bends and the C5 corners rather neatly, but the steering feels absolutely numb - it's just too light and offers virtually nothing in the way of feedback.
On the grander scale of things, one could hardly compare this car to sportier offerings from BMW and Audi but as an alternative to the likes of Hyundai's Sonata, VW's Passat and Honda's Accord, the Citroën is a stylish and refined alternative.
Citroen C5 155 THP - R304 100
Audi A4 1.8T Attraction (118kW) - R308 500
Honda Accord 2.0 Elegance (115kW) - R303 000
Hyundai Sonata 2.4 GLS (131kW) - R279 900
Mazda6 2.5 Active (125kW) - R314 320
Subaru Legacy 2.0 Premium (110kW) - R299 000
VW Passat 1.8 TSI (118kW) - R296 900