2023 Citroen C5 X Shine review (video)

Josh Bennis

In a sea of SUVs lining the new car market at the moment the new 2023 Citroen C5 X is more of a chic crossover than a traditional bulky SUV. According to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries in Australia though, it competes in the dwindling sedan market with the Kia Stinger and Skoda Superb. But is this what the buying public want?

One trim line is available in Australia, to make things easy, called the Shine, and it comes packaged with lashings of European flavour and uniqueness we’ve come to expect from the French carmaker.

Prices start from $57,670 (excluding on-roads), which is dear. But if you compare it to its two rivals, the value-for-money equation stacks up well once you factor in the standard inclusions. Like most car brands now Citroen offers a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty on all of its new vehicles.

2023 Citroen C5 X Shine – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder
Output: 133kW@5550rpm / 250Nm@1650rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 19×7.0, 205/55
ANCAP: Five stars
Tare weight: 1439kg
Power-to-weight: 10.81:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 6.0L/100km
Economy during test: 7.3L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 52L/95 RON[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Power efficiency: 22.16kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 4.03 seconds*
0-100km/h: 8.33 seconds*
60-110km/h: 5.64 seconds*
1/4 mile: 16.07 seconds at 145.8km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.633g*
100-0km/h braking: 2.91 seconds at 37.95 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.135g*
Decibel at idle: 39*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 78*
Priced from: $57,670[/column][end_columns]

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2023 Citroen C5 X Shine – THE PACKAGE

We quite like the exterior design. Still daring, like so many Citroen/French vehicles in history, but this gives off a rugged vibe that’s ready for a few mountain bikes to be strapped on the roof, or even slick enough to look sharp parked in front of a modern seaside villa.

All corners and wheel arches are protected by plastic cladding so you don’t have to worry too much about light scruffs and bumps, as is typical in big French cities. But here in Australia these parts can look a bit cheap and even misleading, because they might suggest this is an off-road vehicle. Sure, ground clearance is rated at 194mm, which is more than what you get in a Stinger and Superb, but it’s not what you would call rugged.

The interior is a big step forward for Citroen. Not only is the main touch-screen big (12 inches), it also includes all of the modern applications such as wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as digital radio, and internet-connected 3D sat-nav with a free three-year subscription. An eight-speaker sound system and sub-woofer, wireless phone charging, and ‘Hello Citroen’ voice commands are also standard.

Previous touch-screen systems from Citroen have been a bit clunky or basic, and often require too many selections to achieve simple tasks. The new system is a decent improvement, and the graphics seem to be a level forward, but some menus are still confusing and take some getting used to. We like the surround-view camera system though, and its selectable view options.

You won’t be wanting more headroom or legroom inside. In the front or back, actually. This is a big vehicle. The front seats are really comfortable and you’ll enjoy the patterned upholstery, while rear seat space is just as passenger-friendly. There’s a heap of legroom, twin charging ports and climate vents. It’s a shame there is no arm rest that folds down from the centre, however.

Luggage space is abundant, with 545L in the standard seating layout and up to 1640L with the rear seats folds. That stacks up well against mid-size SUVs, but considering this officially competes in the same segment as the old Holden Commodore, the space isn’t so fantastic. The last VF Commodore wagon offered 895L/2000L.

While all the above does heap praise on this French-made vehicle, there are a few areas we think need more work. Some of those exterior plastics might not age well, namely the wheel arches, and once scuffed they are likely to make the car look worn. The looks may age quite fast as French carmakers do chop and change quite quickly as well. And with electric only around the corner for seemingly all models, petrol resale on a European model like this might not be too flash in years to come.

2023 Citroen C5 X Shine – THE DRIVE

The 1.6-litre turbo four-pot is gutsy and dials up torque down low in the rev range, with its peak 250Nm available from just 1650rpm. It was only 5-6 years ago you’d only expect that kind of low-down grunt from a big turbo-diesel. Given it requires a minimum 95RON suggests that it doesn’t mind having its 133kW used all the way to redline. You only need 5550rpm to achieve max power, though.

Citroens always offer a pleasant driving experience. This is really down to the level of comfort on offer provided by the well-cushioned suspension, visibility and overall ergonomics. Everything falls at your fingertips and the powertrain is calm and quiet. Although a bit slow to shift and take off, the eight-speed automatic is a relaxing match for this engine.

It doesn’t automatically shift up into the higher gears as soon as possible like some rivals, because the wide torque curve of the engine allows it pull through ratios in a consistent manner rather than playing musical gears to find mechanical torque. Citroen claims 0-100km/h in 8.1 seconds and we clocked it in 8.33 seconds in warm conditions.

As for the handling and grip, you can dial up plenty of pace out in the country and it’s quite capable, so long as you don’t ask it to be a nimble super hatch. This suspension tune is clearly set for comfort, and that’s find by us. It’s not pretending to be a sports car like some European SUVs. And instead of complete agility you get unapologetic comfort. It absorbs bumps like they aren’t even there, and, surprisingly, it doesn’t crash and bang around or bump-steer off line.

Around town the nicely weighted steering and comfort-tuned suspension means it eats up poorly-maintained roads really well. Better than many European rivals. And thanks to the surround-view cameras and good visibility, parking is a cinch.

We did a big mix of city driving, highway and a decent cross country dash and as far as fuel consumption goes we saw 6.6L/100km on the long haul and around 8.1L/100km around town. This isn’t diesel levels of economy or even a match for some other petrol hybrid rivals, but we think you could experience lower figures after some time of ownership and getting used to the powertrain’s sweet spots. The official average is 6.0L/100km.

Even though it might look like it offers the ambition of an SUV, its crossover stance means it is certainly capable of an Aussie backroad or dirt track to a camping site. In the sense that it officially competes with sedans, there is definitely more versatility here. But just remember this is only available as a front-wheel drive so you won’t get as far as some SUVs.

2023 Citroen C5 X Shine – THE VIDEO

2023 Citroen C5 X Shine – THE VERDICT

It comes with good tech inside that is not overwhelming or annoying, and the standard luxuries and other features mean it does present a decent case for its price point.

If you’re in the market for a roomy European vehicle that offers an exclusive design and interesting interior appointments, this is worth looking into. Especially if comfort is a high priority – we honestly don’t think there is a more comfortable vehicle in this segment and for this price. Forget the want for an all-wheel drive SUV if it’s not totally necessary, and if you’ve never owned a French car embrace the fact you’ll have something a touch more unique than the common clan.

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]PROS:
– Comfort, comfort, comfort
– Pleasant and modern interior design
– Crossover layout adds versatility over sedan rivals
– Good passenger space
[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]CONS:
– Soft handling might not appeal to everyone
– Citroen resale value isn’t the best in Australia
– Lacks some of the latest safety tech seen in rivals (5-star ANCAP, though)[/column][end_columns]

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

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