What have the Gauls ever done for us?By Frank Turner
September 19, 2008
Swiss watches, Cuban cigars, French wines, German cars ... each country a byword for excellence in a certain product. But what if we paired France with motors, rather than the vine?
After all, that’s what Citröen has done in its tongue-in-cheek TV ad for the new C5.
The message is, for overall quality, engineering excellence and attention to detail go Gallic. Should this worry the Teutonic competition? It was time to find out.
The car on test was the top spec 2.7HDi V6 Exclusive auto, a symphony in distinguished grey metallic paint outside and wall-to-wall fine-quality leather within (the latter an optional extra).
First impressions were of a car that ticked all the boxes for high-quality materials – soft-touch plastics married with discreet touches of brushed aluminium, substantial switchgear and deep carpeting.
And, as far as it goes, it was hard to see how they could have squeezed in much more.
We’re talking digital dual-zone air conditioning, heat reflecting windscreen, electrically adjustable front seats (the driver’s seat with memory settings), electric parking brake, cruise control, top spec sat-nav, tyre pressure monitor, rain-sensitive wipers,
guide-me-home headlights … the list goes on.
But, surely the proof of the pudding is in the driving experience – that confidence-inspiring feeling of solidity combined with pace that is in the DNA of German cars.
For starters, the C5 passed the door test – that reassuring, weighty ‘thunk’ is there. And, on start-up, the V6 diesel is barely audible.
The six-speed automatic gearbox, with sequential change if you want to shift for yourself, matches the big engine for smoothness.
It delivers the torquey power in smooth swathes, making safe overtaking a doddle. Indeed, the whole on-the-road experience is one of executive express ease, my only criticism being the steering which lacks a little in feedback.
Otherwise Citröen is very much on the money when it comes to delivering a “driver’s car”.
On the practical side, there’s an Albert Hall-sized boot, with load-securing eyes, centre console storage and front seatback pockets.
The C5’s makers have been busy rewriting the country/product rule book. So what’s next? Danish cigar anyone?
Make/Model: Citröen C5 2.7 HDi
Technical: 2720cc V6 turbo diesel
Performance: 0-62mph, 9.6 secs
Fuel: 33.6mpg (combined)
Insurance: Group 14E