The Citroen C5 has been updated for 2013. The Ford Mondeo rival gets subtly refreshed styling, more kit and a new 2.2-litre diesel engine.The big update for the C5 is a new Techno Pack. When added to base VTR models, this £700 option brings sat-nav, alloys, Bluetooth, a USB connection, rear parking sensors and front foglights. When bought in combination with VTR+ trim – where Bluetooth and USB are standard anyway you get all of the above plus larger alloys.
We'd recommend ignoring the 'Sport' button – it serves only to hold on to gears longer than is necessary and reveals the harsh higher rev ranges of this otherwise smooth and quiet engine. Ride quality is a mixed bag, especially on Exclusive versions with 18-inch alloys. At low speeds, the suspension thumps harshly over potholes and speed humps, and the ride is jittery over patchy surfaces. Things settle down at higher speeds, though, where the C5 wafts along serenely in exactly the way you'd expect a big Citroen to. Unfortunately, the loose body control can make you feel queasy rather than comfortable on twisty or undulating roads.
The 'Sport' setting makes the ride even more jarring at low speeds and doesn't improve body control much at all, which is another reason for leaving it switched off.Responsive-but-numb steering finishes off this range-topping C5's hit-and-miss driving characteristics.
The driving position is good, the cabin is light and spacious, and there are some interesting details that help to alleviate the bland atmosphere that often characterises family cars. These fail to disguise some cheap-feeling materials around the cabin, however. You still get a button-heavy centre console and (where fitted) a sat-nav system that's hopelessly tricky to use, despite upgrades to the software. The display for the sat-nav is at least bright and clear.
The saloon version of the C5 isn't as versatile as some hatchback rivals. However, its unusual concave rear screen gives you a good-sized boot opening, and the rear seats fold down flat for added practicality.The Tourer (estate) has a big boot, but it's not as big as the class leaders', and it could be more practical; the rear screen is quite steeply raked, so it eats into the loadspace, and you have to pop up the rear seat bases before the backrests will lie flat.
The new 2.2 diesel engine is available only with range-topping Exclusive trim, which means you get loads of equipment, including electric, part-leather seats, laminated side windows and cruise control – along with all the Techno Pack goodies we've already mentioned.However, even with base VTR trim (available with other engines) you still get a reasonable amount of kit, including air-conditioning, front and rear electric windows, laminated side windows and rear parking sensors.
The C5 is a likeable thing, and the new range-topping diesel version plays to all of the car's strengths. As a company car it makes little sense because of its relatively high CO2 emissions, but as a private buy this is a refined car that's packed with technology. It's not cheap and won't hold its value well, but big discounts are available if you're prepared to haggle. All things considered, the smaller diesel engines make more sense, but even then there are better all-rounders to choose from, such as the Ford Mondeo, VW Passat and Skoda Superb.