When this generation of Citroën C5 Tourer was launched, the manufacturer was keen to flaunt how it had managed to make the car… German. Yup, that most chic of French brands bade farewell to Gallic flair and focused on Germanic quality and efficiency.
The car’s appearance and a certain Teutonic robustness, while build quality showed a significant improvement over that of older Citroëns.
But Citroën didn’t abandon all of its historical principles with the C5, so instead of focusing on the usual German attributes of ‘sporty’ driving experience and attendant ‘compromised’ ride quality, the French brand made the car comfortable and quiet.
If you have a long way to go, as most tow car drivers do, and want peace and comfort, take a look at the C5 Tourer.
In the mid-2000s, Citroën was seen as a bit of an also-ran. Models such as the C5 were not just off the pace, they were dull. For so long the standard-bearer for unusual, quirky design, Citroën had lost its way.
The brand looked to its German rivals for inspiration, and the second-generation C5 was born, in four-door and estate forms.
Now, effortless oddness was out, better build quality was in. A load of standard equipment was also present and correct, with all models fitted with air conditioning, alloy wheels, adaptive front lights, cruise control and a speed-limiter.
From 2010, all C5s were also provided with Citroën’s eTouch emergency and assistance system, while various trim and tech upgrades happened throughout the vehicle’s life.
Options included electrically adjustable and massaging front seats, sat-nav and Hydractive 3 suspension, as well as parking sensors, so when you’re browsing, it’s worth looking out for as well-specified a model as you can find.
Weirdness wasn’t completely abandoned, however, with Citroën fittings a steering wheel on which only the rim moved – the centre stayed completely still.
Initially, there were two petrol engines and four diesels available. The petrol range comprised a 127bhp 1.8-litre four-cyclinder engine and a 143bhp 2.0 four-cylinder.
These are strong, smooth units that suit the car well when driven solo, although it’s a different story with a trailer hitched. They’ll undeniably pull a heavy trailer, but they will also need plenty of top-ups.
Diesel rules where the C5 Tourer is concerned. There was a choice of 1.6- and 2.0-litre four-cylinder units, plus 2.7- and 3.0-litre V6 diesels. In reality, the 2.0-litre motor is going to provide you with the best balance of power, and economy, with its 138bhp and 46.3mpg.
In 2010, this engine was replaced by a 158bhp 2.0-litre engine, which complied with stricter emissions regulations. This version of the vehicle is both strong and economical, and worth looking out for.
Two suspension set-ups were available – a conventional passive and an adjustable hydro pneumatic. But its actually the old-school springs and shock absorbers that give the C5 Tourer the better ride.
Those looking for a tow car will surely appreciate the fact that the adjustable suspension can be raised or lowered, to aid with hitching up.
This adjustable suspension also helps when towing, keeping the car stable even in violent lane-change manoeuvres.
Inside, five adults will have ample head- and legroom, and the boot is a good size, albeit not as large as the Ford Mondeo or Mazda 6 – you can blame the C5’s sloping tailgate for that. Fold the seats for a big area that’s easy to load.
In its lifetime, the C5 has been subject to 12 recalls. These included the possibility of a leak from a defective fuel pump, plus windscreen trim that could work its way loose, and even, in extreme circumstances, detach itself.
The C5 was then recalled for defective tailgate struts that could fail to keep the door open. The handbrake also caused a recall, and so did the vacuum pump in the braking system.
Next was a duff windscreen motor, then the engine could stall after an emergency stop, owing to oil levels being incorrectly measured. Once more, the fuel system was found to be at fault, with the possibility of a fuel rail leak causing another recall. Inside, airbags could deploy incorrectly – another recall. The last two concerned a faulty starter motor wire, and defective engine-cooling electronics.
Other issues seem largely random, such as tyre pressure monitoring sensor failures or power steering problems. That’s why you really want to make sure that the car has a solid history file; this should tell you if all of the recall work has been done.
When you’re viewing these vehicles, bear in mind that the C5 is quite a complicated machine, so it’s wise to bring along someone who knows one end of a socket set from the other. Otherwise, get a professional inspection carried out. The C5 was much better made than other Citroëns of the period, and the age of the earliest cars means condition is key, rather than mileage.
Given that you can in fact purchase this generation of C5 for less that four figures (if you’re brave), there’s a good chance of tracking down a cracking example for a bargain-basement price.
Even if you shell out a few thousand more, you’ll be getting a supremely quiet, comfortable vehicle that simply eats up the motorways, towing or solo.
It’s spacious enough for comfortable family holidays, and you’ll be able to drive past many a fuel station on the way.
Citroën C5 Tourer // Need to know
How much? £3500-£9500
You can pic up a Citroën C5 Tourer for less than a grand, but you do need to bear in mind that the cheapest cars will have spent the bulk of their lives on the move, and not always in the most sympathetic hands. These are the cars that will require the closest inspection.
However, a budget of just £3500 will still net you a good model with fewer than 80,000 miles on the clock.
In addition, even the most expensive cars (bar a couple of exceptionally hopeful dealers) are available for around the £9000 mark, so there’s scope for a late-year, high-spec model that’s been well cared for.
What will it tow?
- Kerbweight 1845kg
- Towing limit 1670kg
- Noseweight limit 80kg
- 85% match 1568kg
How much is a towball?
- Witter flange towbar £145.86
- Witter detachable towbar £274.51-£286.87
- Fitting extra (from www.pfjones.co.uk)
What about servicing?
- Interim service £85.53
- Full service £128.62
- (Prices supplied by Servicing Stop)
Top tug: 2.0 HDI 16v 160 VTR+
A blend of reasonable price, comfort, standard kit and muscle, it will handle a trailer and keep you entertained
Barge pole: 1.8i 16v SX
Acceptable if all you do is potter about town, with occasional forays on faster roads, but it will struggle with a trailer
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The adjustable suspension can be raised or lowered to aid hitching up, and keeps the car stable even in violent lane-change manoeuvres