2001 Citroen C5 SX 2.0 HDi from UK and Ireland
Comfortable and safe family cruiser with all the faults cured by the time it reaches 100k
Nothing - yet!
Very economical and comfortable family car. We also run a Xantia HDi Estate and it is interesting to compare the two.
Our family needs a car for two adults and two kids, hauling firewood (collecting it off-road), taking rubbish to the tip, and for long distance driving as I do 500 - 1000 miles a week.
Our C5 is a 51 plate and cost £3275 from an Ebay dealer (August 2005), half what a main dealer would want.
We don't have the sport button but despite that and the cars size it can be really hustled along and on an Autobhan cruised at an indicated 120 mph with an eery silence.
The car is quicker in a straight line than our Xantia HDi SX Estate but doesn't corner as well.
The Xantia estate has bigger tyres than the C5 although I suspect the sport button C5s with wider tyres would beat it. When I fit new tyres I will see what options there are and try a different brand and width if appropriate.
Fuel consumption has so far averaged 50 mpg and the fuel computer seems to match what I'm seeing at the pumps.
Comfort is fantastic and the ride is better than the Xantia, much smoother and more controlled on rough surfaces. I noticed that the ABS is less eager to kick in when braking on rough surfaces than is the case with the Xantia.
The car has eight air bags and feels stronger and safer than the Xantia. It also seems to have a load more space in the cabin and is a better family car all round with cubby holes and cup holders galore. I reckon the C5 estate version must be near MPV size.
Rear load space in the hatchback is good and 250 kilos of split logs fits fine with the seats down and doesn't upset the ride. The height control button reacts faster than the Xantias lever which is useful for travelling over fields to pick up firewood or crossing flooded sections of road.
Interior trim is of a poor quality yet stands up reasonably well to the diabolical abuse we meet out to it - most 4x4 drivers wouldn't dream of taking their shiny toys anywhere other than the highway - muddy tracks and floods are no problem to the C5.
The carpet stuck on the back of the rear seats has fallen off as the glue must have gone brittle and there is a strange plastic film on the door pulls that is peeling off.
Other than that we have no trim problems, just a sense of this being cheaper inside than a BMW. Of course the equivalent BMW would be £12k not £3k and would handle like a dog with 250k of logs in the back.
Make sure you buy the diesel and make sure it has done at least 100k so that all the faults have been resolved by the poor shmuck who bought it new!
I have been driving big diesel Citroens for ten years and I've never bought one with less than 100k on the clock.
In 300k miles of driving over that time our Xantias, BXs, ZX and now C5 have never failed us with anything more serious than a thermostat, flat battery and one clutch cable.
I service them myself and I have only had to replace two hydraulic pipes (cost £10 each and 20 minutes to fit).
Find an independent garage and join the Citroen Car Club, you will save a packet. Some dealers know nothing about these cars and do more harm than good!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 26th October, 2005
10th Sep 2010, 07:21
A quick update to my original comments now I've had the car for five years. Just failed an MOT - the first it has ever failed - at 160k miles. The foglight switch had failed, and on stripping the Comms 2000 unit, I found a broken spring.
New Comms 2000 cured the problem, and took 20 minutes for me to fit myself.
The total cost of repairs (excluding consumables) has now reached the heady heights of £250.00 for the Comms 2000 unit, a door handle and a washer motor.
This car is almost ten years old, and has 160k under its belt, but still returns 60 plus to the gallon, and cruises like the comfy old barge it is.
The secret to running french cars is never, but never take it to a dealership. Now there is a Hatnes manual for the C5, you have no excuse - it's a doddle to work on.
In case you think this is a one off, I have owned dozens of French cars with no problems. The only car that ever packed up me completely was my first car, an Opel (German), and I haven't bought German since.
3rd Jun 2011, 21:02
Good review, and thanks for the follow up story as well.
I don't know if I can resist the temptation that the value these cars represent on the second hand (Australian) market. Although our locally made buses do depreciate steeply, the C5 represents even more car for the dollar, in terms of functionality, safety features and economy.
19th Mar 2012, 12:12
Hi, glad you liked the review - another quick update. The C5 has now done 180k miles, is still returning 55 MPG, is running like a train, and covering 500 miles a week.
I am contemplating the second cam belt and probably a water pump, as that is still the original. Might even change the suspension fluid, which is the original stuff (brake fluid, I do every two years).
Had a problem with sticky door solenoids (fronts) over winter, which has gone away with a squirt of WD40, and I replaced the alloys with a set from an Exclusive, 205 section instead of 195 (£109 off eBay with excellent tyres and only a few tiny scratches), which has improved the handling.
It also needed a rear brake pipe and a track rod end at 175k for the MOT. Something odd has started happening, people tell me the car is good looking, cool even - now I never expected that! The one criticism I had was I thought it ugly compared to the Xantia. Times change I guess.
I did think about buying one of the new C5s, but I can't bear to part with my old one until it goes seriously wrong - it would be worth more in parts than I would get in part exchange, and that would be a crime!