The 2013 UK Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study: the most troublesome cars you've owned
To Paris Motor Show in Citroen C5
- Mileage total: 5,642
- Mileage since last report: 2,078
- MPG overall: 36.6mpg
- Costs: £64.17 so far
- On fleet since: September 2008
I have done a fair few miles in the C5 now, but early this month it took a trip to the Paris Motor Show in the hands of Richard and CJ. They have rather differing views from each other to this new Citroën, so I'll let them tell it in their own words.
From the moment my alarm clock went off, it was intense. I'd packed the night before, but still had to load the car, get to the office, unload the car, dash in to check e-mails, collect yet more stuff and print off some files before meeting CJ. And load another car. An adrenaline-fuelled mad dash, in other words.
So when I finally cocooned myself in the C5 for the run to Dover, it was in the passenger side. My first UK taste of the fleet sector's most relaxing car would be from the best leather-trimmed armchair on offer to savour it. CJ could play chauffeur, for now.
Potential slumber was not becoming, though. For one, the heated seat didn't seem to work. Leaving me outside my tight tolerance of temperature extremes, dithering like that nervous dog on the VW Polo advert. This wasn't good. Nor was my growing realisation that I wouldn't be finding an auxiliary socket for my iPod, either.
Eventually, the car warmed up, but the mood remained chilled. CJ's favourite Radio 1, all the way to Dover? I didn't think I could do it. Off it went. And slowly, I relaxed, to focus on the finer aspects. Such as, once you've overlooked the initial wheel-induced patter, a quite lovely quality to the ride.
Peter's high-spec Exclusive brings hydropneumatic suspension. And that means soft, cushioned, easygoing body motions at speed, the sort of relaxation you imagine a Rolls-Royce would offer. As the M25 morphed into M20, eyelids drooped, as the swiftly-pedalled Citroen soothed me to sleep. You have, I felt like arguing to CJ, to simply roll with it...
... but I must have nodded off. Either way, we made it to Dover, a boat, Calais, and my turn behind the fixed wheel. Blimey, the steering took some getting used to, such is its straight-ahead over-sensitivity. Pity, this, rather like the paucity of shove from the diesel auto combo, and a frustrating transmission thud as you go on the throttle.
It was still classy to drive, but again, only with miles did I become as relaxed as I was when being chauffeured. Hurry this hydro C5, and boats are indeed what you're thinking. A steady flowing progression is the trick here.
We were chewing through a gallon every 37 miles, which was disappointing, and CJ was almost creaming at the one CD we'd found in the car - the Pet Shop Boys' greatest hits. Good stereo, though, and the sat nav, for me, was working brilliantly. Familiarity with the system from my old 308 helped here; CJ and Peter are less convinced.
Sickening traffic around Paris meant we were very, very late. Our dodgy hotel also boasted no parking, so we had to moor up in an even dodgier, unlit multi-story car park. Here, the excellent Xenons pierced through the gloom, cornering lights ensuring we'd give it back to Peter scrape-free.
Indeed, lights raised our only concern, when leaving (very) early the day after the show. I thought there was meant to be some sort of conversion switch in the engine bay. But did the handbook make any mention? So we chanced it. Not a single flash from the French, either. Surely it's not so clever, it adjusts automatically?
Just a footnote on getting back into my Ibiza straight from the C5, too. Boy, it felt small. I was sat low, assaulted by far more engine clatter, was bumbling whereas before I was wafting... quite a contrast, these two cars. As I swifted up the M1 back home, I rather missed the old beast.
Hmmm. This isn't an especially good start. It's early. I hardly slept so I'm still tired. The exact moment I step from the door to walk to the car is apparently some secret cue for the heavens to open, and it goes from light drizzle to 45 degree high-powered assault rain instantaneously.
By the time I reach the car - about 20 metres distant - it's like I've been stood under a shower for ten minutes. Plus my back is playing up (yes, 28 years old and I have a back problem. Motoring journalism: it's not all fun and games, folks). I'm in an ugly mood already.
And that's before Richard and I have started on the journey to Paris, and spent 12 hours tramping round the multiple halls of the International Motor Show. Fortunately we're taking Peter's long term Citroen C5, with its squishy Hydroactive 3 self-levelling suspension. So we should be in for a comfortable ride.
Peter keeps the Hydroactive set to Sport, but to save my back I disengage that straight away and we're off. Dover, then Calais, then Paris here we come. And then, two days later, the whole thing all over again in reverse. Thank goodness for the C5's fuel-sipping diesel engine...
Or at least, that was the plan. Admittedly I wasn't exactly hanging about whenever I got behind the wheel - mental Paris traffic jam excepted - but as Richard points out, 37mpg from a supposedly frugal executive express was pretty disappointing. That didn't bother me as much as the way the C5 steers and drives, however.
It was quickly obvious why Peter had the car firmly planted in the Sport suspension setting. Although firmly planted possibly isn't exactly the prime choice of words. We drove all the way there and most of the way back in normal mode, and my God is the car floaty and vague.
Any thoughts of throwing it through backstreets French Connection style vanishes as soon as you've experienced a corner. There's literally zero steering feel, while the body control is best described as 'liberated'. The price you pay for doing that comfort thing so well.
And to be fair, the Sport button makes quite a difference to the way the car moves and feels, too. But even with this added 'precision', the C5 is far from being anything except a comfortable barge. A decent comfortable barge, true - I just prefer my cars to offer at least some driver satisfaction.
Staying positive, aside from being comfy, having dualzone climate control is a bonus. As while I remained cool, calm and collected on my side of the car, Richard could gently charbroil himself to his heart's content (although, boy was he upset when he discovered the passenger heated seat didn't work).
The absence of any kind of decipherable MP3 player connection drove both of us nuts. But me especially, as Rich insisted on repeatedly listening to the only set of CDs Peter had left in the car. The Pet Shop Boys' Greatest Hits? Give me strength. Still, it was that or French radio, I suppose.
Ferry delays on the way home also helped raise Richard's temperature (and probably his blood pressure) far more than seemed healthy at the time. But we caught an earlier boat anyway, and the soothing tones of his favourite BBC 5Live swiftly sorted him on return to Blighty terrafirma.
Later the same afternoon some disgruntled French fisherman decided to blockade the Calais ferry port - so it could have been worse. Blissfully unaware, we cruised gently back to Hertfordshire. and abandoned the C5 in the company car park. Three days in the Citroen apparently being quite enough for both of us.
It's interesting and valuable to get two detached responses. The C5 is certainly a car that takes some getting used to and 600 miles is probably not enough. That said, motorway stuff is the calling card of the C5......More next month.
Long-Term Arrival: Citroen C5 2.0 HDi Exclusive auto
Long-term Arrival: Honda Accord 2.2 i-DTEC EX GT Tourer
More MPG from our Seat Ibiza Ecomotive
Final Report: Skoda Roomster
Filthy, thirsty, brilliant: our BMW 135i
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