Marketing strap lines don't often have much foundation in reality but with this car, the second generation Citroen C5, the puff for once summed things up perfectly: 'Reassuringly German. Unmistakably Citroen' was what the C5 model ads told us. The French brand clearly thought (probably rightly) that buyers would believe Teutonic cars to be the best ones, a perception, it has to be said, rarely substantiated by customer satisfaction surveys. But perception is everything in a market sector as closely fought as the Mondeo-sized medium range category where, back in the 2011 to 2016 era, VW Passats, Peugeot 508s, Renault Lagunas, Vauxhall Insignias and a whole host of others fought it out with the iconic Ford for segment supremacy. Citroen has had its moments in this class, with strong-selling BX and Xantia models, but that was long ago. The original first generation C5, launched in 2001, failed to replicate such success, hence the need for a sharper, higher quality feel in its successor, this car, first launched in 2008.
Here is a design of clashing cultures. Clearly, its creators were told to produce something Germanic. Yet being Citroen engineers, they couldn't quite bring themselves to slavishly copy their Teutonic rivals, with the result being a car that at the same time also feels very French. It's an appealing package but even at launch, it wasn't enough to get the French brand the attention it deserved in this category and with revised versions of nearly every key rival subsequently brought to market, by 2011, further C5 improvements were needed in terms of sharper styling, lower running costs and higher equipment levels. All these things were incorporated into the improved C5 saloon and estate model range that sold between 2011 and 2016 before being quietly phased out as sales dwindled away.