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Test of C5 2,0i 16V SX

Unfortunately, CitroŽn UK was not able to provide a press car for test so I approached Southgate CitroŽn of Andover (my local dealer) and asked if instead of a courtesy car, they could loan me a C5 while my XM was in for its 18,000 mile service.  Southgate agreed to this.

There is something about the appearance of the C5 that does not come across in photos that makes it look bulky and dumpy simultaneously.  In the metal, it is far less unattractive although I do not like the C pillar treatment and consider the frontal treatment to look too similar to that of the Picasso.  While I accept that many manufacturers believe that it is desirable to adopt a consistent approach to brand identity, I believe this can be done without resorting to a common style - witness the CitroŽn range in the early sixties which comprised the 2CV, Ami 6 and D series - none of which looked like each other - or like anything else on the road.  Or the current Mercedes range - no-one could mistake the A Klasse for the E Klasse and yet they are both unmistakably Mercedes.  But in the final analysis, whether one likes a particular shape is an entirely subjective and aesthetic judgement.  However, it must be said that C5 is different from other manufacturer's offerings (although it does bear certain resemblances to the American Ford Taurus and certain Hondas) and the enormous chevrons front and rear ensure that it cannot be mistaken for anything else.  The cynic in me observes that the size of the chevrons seems to be directly related to the anonymity of the designs.  On the standard 15 inch wheels, the wheel arches look too large - fortunately 16 inch wheels are an optional extra. 

There are, however, two aspects of the shape that I would criticise and they have nothing to do with aesthetics.  The first is the location of the A pillar which is too far forward and obscures visibility on both sides of the car at junctions. 

The second is the awful rearwards visibility.  Owners of lesser C5s will spend quite some time parking by ear while drivers of the Exclusive SE will find the 'Parking Assistance Pack' is indispensable.  This pack, which comprises (in addition to automatic retractable mirrors and an indexable passenger door mirror) a rear parking sensor is an option on Exclusive and SX models but was not fitted to 'my' car.

The interior disappointed me.  There was a nasty tactile feel and appearance to the dash which is reminiscent of the Picasso, both in terms of the architecture and the plastics used.  Fortunately there is no ersatz wood on SX trim car.  The light bottom half of the dash has the same texture but slightly different colour to the door panels - the dash has a greenish tinge while the door panel had a beige tint.

© 2001 Julian Marsh/CitroŽnŽt © 2001 Julian Marsh/CitroŽnŽt