Motors with Tony Conlon: Little bit of everything in the C5 X

Marking a long-awaited return to the large car segment of the market for Citroen, the company’s new C5 X clearly demonstrates that the carmaker’s renowned DNA is still very much alive.

A glance at the C5 X reminded me of the question someone once asked as they looked up at an object in the sky and wondered if it was a bird or a plane.

Like that object in the sky, I was forced to ask myself what really is the C5 X supposed to be? Is it a saloon, hatchback, estate car or SUV/crossover? In reality, it is a combination of all four - and I loved it.

Offering a muscular shape combined with streamlined, sleek lines, the C5 X is a higher than normal hatchback with an elegant look. Having won the Crossover/SUV category in the 2023 Irish Car of the Year Awards, the car conveys the elegance of a saloon, the versatility of an estate and the modern, robust appearance of an SUV.

The Citroen sits on 19-inch alloy wheels that feature aerodynamic inserts which create a turbine effect to guide airflow and thus help reduce aerodynamic drag, minimising fuel consumption.

The car proved easy to get in and out of. The LED headlights and daytime running lights feature a unique V-shaped lighting signature. The extended bonnet, high belt line and flared wheel arches with their plastic protection all help to give the car a distinctive and sturdy, aerodynamic look.

The C5 X features a stylish upper spoiler and a lower spoiler is claimed to provide support and stability when braking. It’s a design trait some might remember from other Citroens in the past, such the CX and XM.

Available in four trim levels - Feel, Feel Pack, Flair and Flair Pack - the C5 X is offered with a 1.2 litre petrol engine and a 1.6 litre plug-in hybrid unit. My test car came dressed in Flair trim and was powered by the 1.2 litre 130bhp petrol engine. It offered everything I could ever want from a car.

Inside proved very spacious. The uncluttered horizontal dashboard provides a vast and open space. I really liked its 12-inch touch screen (10 inch below Flair level), the 7-inch digital instrument cluster with smoked glass and ambient backlighting and the head-up display that helps the driver focus more on the road ahead.

There’s good headroom and legroom and the car offers 545 litres of boot space that is easily extendable by pulling the ‘magic handles’ that allow the rear seats to be folded flat from the boot compartment.

When I say that this car has everything I ever wanted, I particularly liked the very high standard of equipment, from the electric folding exterior mirrors, voice recognition and 3D navigation, to the high level of safety and security systems. There is a clear reversing camera and leather seating. The amount of equipment in this Citroen is simply enormous.

I liked the car’s 360-degree windows which allow for great interior brightness and visibility. The advanced comfort seats which are fitted all round, driving position and nicely weighed steering also

found favour as did the standard fit advanced comfort suspension system that really filters out road undulations.

Full of French flair, the build quality and two-tone paintwork (Cumulus grey with Perla Nera black roof) was of as high a standard as on some of the so-called premium brand models.

While all the equipment, even down to the automatically illuminating headlights, ticked all the right boxes – as did the car’s spaciousness and driving comforts - it was the main mechanical components that really won me over.

The comfort suspension providing good road handling and the 1.2 litre engine, which is connected to a smooth eight-speed gearbox, was terrific.

I know we are going through a transition to new power sources but there was a small thrill in managing to eke out 5.5 l/100km (51mpg) from the 130bhp petrol engine while driving steadily. I nearly wanted to pull up the bonnet and give the engine a big hug.

After a lovely, relaxing test drive, there was a genuine sense of sadness when the time came to hand the car back.

Prices commence at €36,990; model tested, €48,890.