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Citroen C5 Tourer 2.0 HDI review

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I've just been catching up with the C5 Tourer, a very stylish five door estate. Prices range from £16,639 up to £25,251. There are various engine options, 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol and 1.6, 2.0, 2.2 and 2.7-litre HDi diesel.

The 2.0-litre petrol and 2.0/2.7-litre diesel units have the option of an automatic transmission. There is the choice of three equipment levels, SX, VTR+ and Exclusive. VTR+ is the most popular choice with fleet and business customers whilst 70% of retail buyers go for the fully kitted Exclusive models.

The single best selling Tourer model is the type I tested, the 2.0 HDi 138hp with VTR+ specification and a price of £19,475.

The headlines for the C5 Tourer are stylish, roomy, well built and well equipped. A certain 'style' goes without saying from Citroen. Their cars always seem to look different from other mainstream brands. If you remember the latest C5 was launched as having German 'looks' and quality, but with French fair. All true.

The C5 remains a true Citroen with a sleek wedge shaped rising waistline linking an elegant front with the familiar horizontally slatted grille and a sculptured aerodynamic looking rear end. Roof bars elongate the design still further.

The overall length of the Tourer is 4,800mm; long enough to limit a few parking space options but the front and rear parking sensors help. The long length and extra width means really good leg and shoulder room for front and rear passengers plus a huge load space ranging from 505 to 1,462-litres.

However due to the futuristic and aerodynamic shape of the rear tailgate window and the small rear side windows, visibility at the back is not great.

All models have cruise control with speed limiter, air conditioning, adaptive front lighting, acoustic sound and heat reflecting front windscreen and numerous front, side and curtain airbags and most models have an automatic electronic parking brake and hill-start assist.

All models also have Citroen's futuristic fixed hub steering wheel which houses duplicate controls for many functions. Indeed there are buttons and controls liberally situated throughout the front dashboard and console. They are quite confusing and some buttons are really very small and not user friendly.

My test VTR+ version, the best selling model, had a very high level of specification as standard. Too many items to mention but 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear electric windows and door mirrors, automatic lights and wipers, halogen headlights, fog lights, anti-lock braking, electronic stability programme and traction control plus a premium quality interior lighting system give you an idea how well specified this improved quality C5 now is.

In true Citroen tradition the C5 in both forms is a very comfortable car. This generation C5 has the option of a conventional coil spring and damper suspension or their usual floating carpet air system.

For me there is no choice, steel is best because this system provides better, more controlled and trustworthy handling and yet it remains remarkably comfortable. The electronic power steering is somewhat vague and will not appeal to drivers who like sports handling. The C5 is built for style, comfort and accommodating space - typically French then.

The power unit in my test C5 Tourer was the long serving and current best selling 2.0-litre, 138bhp, HDi turbodiesl unit. Now without telling tales this engine is due for an upgrade and the 140hp Euro 5 version is already in the Peugeot 407 range.

The new engine is a little stronger mid range, quieter at tickover and cleaner so it cheaper for VED road tax and BIK company car tax. However this current 138hp engine in the C5 Tourer I found to be better for fuel economy.

The new 140hp engine tried recently in a Peugeot 407 SW estate returned 43.5mpg. The older unit in the C5 Tourer returned 48.7mpg. The driving conditions, vehicle load and the weather conditions were similar, so I think it is a fair comparison.

There is certainly nothing wrong with the 138hp unit and mated with the slick 6-speed gearbox and with 236lb ft of torque available from 2,000rpm it is a responsive and flexible performer. Indeed it made very light work of coping with French autoroutes as well as the twisting Cotswold lanes closer to home.

The previous C5 models were well loved by the towing fraternity and I'm already starting to see new C5 models on our roads with tow hooks. For the record the C5 Tourer with the 138hp diesel engine has a 1,800kg maximum braked towing capacity.

Although the new C5 in either Saloon or Tourer form is a very striking and well equipped vehicle, the segment it sells in is suffering heavily from reducing sales as customers downsize. The competition in this class is tough from the Ford Mondeo and the soon to be with us Vauxhall Insignia.

However Citroen will always be competitive on price and offers so the C5 should not be overlooked by moneywise drivers - private, fleet or business.

Citroen C5 Tourer MILESTONES

Citroen C5 Tourer 2.0 HDI VTR+

Price: £19,475

Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, HDi turbodiesel, 138hp, 236lb ft of torque from 2,000rpm, 6-speed manual

Performance: 124mph, 0-62mph 12.1 seconds, 46.3mpg (48.7mpg actual), CO2 160g/km, VED £145, BIK tax 23%

Insurance group: 10E

Dimensions/capacities: 4,829mm L, 1,853mm W, 1,479mm H, boot space 505-1,462-litres, towing weight 1,800kg

For: Stylish good looks, roomy, well equipped, very comfortable ride, good choice of engines, well priced in its class.

Against: Real life residual values as yet unknown, dull steering response, confusing switches and controls, limited rear visibility.