If C5’s infotainment tech has been a bit of a let down, can it stage a comeback when it comes to comfort and safety? You’d hope so given Citroën’s track record in these departments. Certainly, there’s no shortage of kit designed to get the job done.
First up we have Citroën’s signature hydro-pneumatic suspension, known here as Hydractive III. For the C5 it’s a switchable system with standard and sport mode. While the C5 is never going to be a true driver’s car, the ability to firm up the suspension a little and thereby remove the most extreme body movements is welcome. Meanwhile, in standard mode passengers can enjoy a suitably pillowy and Citroën-esque experience. It’s a welcome alternative to the taut, nuggety ride quality delivered by the usual German suspects.
That said, the C5 does suffer from a touch of front axle brittleness and judder over sharp road imperfections. It somewhat spoils the impression of serene progress. It also makes the chassis seems ever so slightly flimsy as well as giving the impression that Citroën is stretching the capabilities of the car’s platform beyond its comfort zone in the creation of such a big, heavy estate model.
Hydractive III is also height adjustable. Along with the ability to lower the car to ease access to the luggage compartment, the system offers two increased height modes. The highest mode boosts clearance for tricky ramps and obstacles and is operational up to 6mph. The medium height mode increases that limit to 25mph and is designed for bad road surfaces.
Further easing the driving experience, the C5 sports a wide range of driver aid and comfort features. There’s a simple but effective cruise control system accessed via the multi-function steering wheel, directional Xenon headlamps (an £805 option), parking sensors with on-screen proximity display and full electric front seats with two memory positions for the driver’s throne, for instance. What’s more, the dual-zone climate control extends to the glovebox compartment.
Another nice party trick is the fully motorised tailgate. It opens with the press of the key fob and closes via a button on its trailing edge. It’s a nice touch given the large size and weight of the tailgate. In fact, the only obvious omission from the comfort-oriented feature list is keyless go.
In safety terms, the C5 delivers an interesting mix of features. Along with the usual panoply of airbags, the C5 boasts tyre pressure monitors, stability control and emergency brake assist. Slightly more out of the ordinary is the lane departure warning system, a £305 option.
The idea is that sensors scan road markings and detect when the car is drifting out of a lane. It then alerts the driver courtesy of a firm buzzing sensation through the seat base. Amusingly, it informs you of the direction of the lane drift by buzzing the relevant side of your bum. Exactly how much use this is in reality is difficult to gauge. We doubt it would be enough to prevent accidents caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel, for instance.
But what we can say for sure is that in practice it’s pretty irritating. Relatively frequent lane changes are part and parcel of today’s busy roads and the consequent constant bum buzzing quickly becomes pretty tiresome. Fortunately, the system can be disabled.
Finally, we have Citroën Assist. This is essentially an automated voice hotline through to the AA’s European break down service, complete with location forwarding. It’s not as sophisticated as some competing systems, but it’s nice to know you can call for help in the event of a breakdown even if your mobile phone has run out of juice or been misplaced.