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At first glance, the C5's infotainment package looks both comprehensive and pretty conventional. There's a 7in LCD display mounted front and centre on the dash with controls below in the centre console. Key features include the NaviDrive navigation system with RDS-TMC traffic data (a £1,300 option), a CD-ripping audio system with 10GB of storage space for MP3s, voice control and cellular telephony support. The main instrument cluster also includes a secondary display which relays key information to the driver.
In terms of input, touch-screen is off the menu. Instead, the main console packs a baffling array of tiny buttons augmented by a couple of small scroll wheels. Indeed, as soon as you begin to dig into the C5's in-car kit it's apparent that Citroën does things a little differently and not all for the good.
For starters, many of the markings on the controls are so small they absolutely cannot be read at a glance. In fact, some are obscured to such an extent that you need to contort yourself to extreme angles just to read the text. The overall appearance of the system is chronically dated, too, both in terms of the hardware and the onscreen graphics.
Making matters worse, the onscreen interface is so convoluted and confusing; you have little hope of fumbling your way through without the paper manual. It routinely requires 15 minutes or more of trawling through the manual to activate or access even basic features. It's as though several different design teams were responsible for putting various parts of the system together and were apparently not on speaking terms for much of the process. The bottom line here is that the lack of intuitiveness forces users to memorise what is quite a complex control panel and interface if they are to have any hope of using it in normal driving conditions.
It also doesn't help that the main screen is relatively low resolution and somewhat offset away from the driver or that Citroën has apparently skimped on translation services for some parts of the English interface. The following garbled mess, quoted word for word, is pretty typical of what the interface routinely spews out:
"The command you are accessing requires you to pronounce one of the voice wording from your directory."
That said, it's not all bad news. Although the C5's multi-function steering wheel is festooned with lots of buttons, it actually works pretty well. Even better is the driver's instrument cluster and the secondary display within it. It's so much clearer and classier than the rest of the infotainment platform that we strongly recommend Citroën puts whoever was responsible for it in charge of its broader in-car tech development.
So, with utterly impenetrable ergonomics, a dated appearance and a chaotic interface, the C5's infotainment platform makes an underwhelming first impression. Perhaps the quality of the individual features can come to the rescue.