Citroen C5 X 1.2 petrol (2022) review
What's the quirky Citroen C5 X like with a tiny 1.2-litre petrol engine?
Shane O' Donoghue
Shane O' Donoghue

Published on January 10, 2023

Citroen C5 X overview

Large French cars have always been seen as a quirky alternative to the mainstream norm, and the Citroen C5 X is no different. It's the latest addition to the Citroen C5 family, and the use of the 'X' emphasises its crossover design elements that tap into the popularity of SUVs. That means there's a raised ride height and black wheelarch trim, while from the nose to the back doors the C5 X carries a style that is familiar to other recent Citroens, such as the C4.

But further back, the C5 X's elongated rear end means that it slots somewhere between a hatchback and an estate. It also adds an awkwardness to the car's proportions that means that while the C5 X has been designed to stand out, it's not necessarily going to turn heads for the right reasons. The front end is certainly interesting, and from a front three-quarter angle it has an aggressive appearance, but that rear end looks pretty fussy.

Under the skin, the C5 X shares its platform with a host of other Stellantis models, some of which could be described as the only real rivals for it. The main opposition comes in the shape of the recently revealed Peugeot 408, which has similar crossover/hatchback lines. The Peugeot 508 shares its running gear with the C5 X, too, and it's arguable that both of these models offer a more elegant look than the Citroen - the 508 is also offered as a more practical estate.

In terms of price, the C5 X is positioned against mid-sized family SUVs such as the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage, although it sacrifices some practicality in comparison with those models. Elsewhere, the Renault Arkana and Toyota C-HR offer coupe-SUV looks, but neither is as spacious or luxurious as the Citroen, although they do cost less.

The Citroen C5 X model range

Irish pricing for the Citroen C5 X starts from €42,370, and there are three trim levels to choose from: Feel Pack, Flair and Flair Pack. All versions get a decent haul of standard equipment, with the Feel Pack featuring 19-inch alloys, an acoustic windscreen that's designed to boost cabin refinement, front and rear parking sensors and a top-down camera view when reversing, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and starting, automatic LED headlights with high beam assist, auto wipers and heated mirrors with integrated indicators.

Inside, the C5 X's upmarket aspirations are boosted by the Advanced Comfort seats, which are trimmed in leather and a fake alternative, while the dashboard and door panels feature wood grain-effect trim. There's a 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system, including navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a DAB radio and voice control, wireless smartphone charging and two USB sockets, one up front, one for the back seats. The climate controls are on a 10-inch cluster below. The driver also gets a seven-inch digital instrument display.

Safety equipment includes active braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection and driver tiredness alert, though the C5 X didn't get an exceptional score when tested by the Euro NCAP - achieving four out of five stars overall. Adult and child occupant ratings (82- and 87 per cent scores, respectively) were pretty decent, but it fell down in terms of 'Safety Assist' (66 per cent) because of the "marginal" reaction of the autonomous emergency braking system to other vehicles. It also only scored 69 per cent for protection of vulnerable road users despite featuring an active bonnet to protect them in a collision.

All versions of the C5 X feature Citroen's Advanced Comfort suspension, which sees progressive hydraulic cushions added to the dampers in an effort to emulate the soft ride of the hydropneumatic suspension used by the Citroens of yesteryear.

Move up from Feel Pack to a Flair model for around €2,000 extra and you get 19-inch diamond-cut alloys plus a black contrast roof. Inside, there's a 12-inch panel for the climate controls, a head-up display for the driver, twice as many USB sockets and LED ambient lighting, while safety is boosted by adaptive cruise control with traffic jam and lane assist, rear cross traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring.

The Flair Pack model is around €3,000 more than Flair trim. It looks identical to the Flair model, but adds extra acoustic glass for even greater refinement, a 360-degree camera system, electric driver's seat adjustment and a powered tailgate.

There are three powertrain options available in the C5 X, all of which come with front-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard. Kicking off the range is Citroen's 130hp 1.2 PureTech three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. This is available with all three trims, but the higher-powered 180hp 1.6 turbocharged four-cylinder petrol option is only available in Flair and Flair Pack models.

The third engine choice is Citroen's plug-in hybrid set-up, as found in the C5 Aircross SUV, although here it's tuned for a total output of 225hp. The system comprises a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor that's powered by a 13.2kWh battery. This offers a range of up to 63km on electricity alone. Like the 1.2 PureTech engine, this set-up is available with every trim level.

The Citroen C5 X interior

From behind the wheel, the Citroen C5 X will look familiar to anybody that has driven a recent Citroen. That also means that it feels like a premium product, almost to the extent that it could be badged as a model from the premium DS range. The cabin layout is easy enough to get along with, and the compact instrument cluster behind the steering wheel is easy to read, thanks to its sharp graphics.

The large 12-inch touchscreen also looks modern, and it seems quicker to react to inputs than other recent Citroen systems. Connecting Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is simple enough, and it displays clearly on the screen, while the former is a wireless set-up.

While the leather (and synthetic leather) trimmed seats feel soft and squishy, one glaring omission is the lack of heated seats - it's something you'd expect in a car that feels as upmarket and premium as this. Otherwise, the C5 X is pretty good. The LED interior lighting is smart, while cabin storage is decent. There's a sliding cover beneath the climate controls - which is a physical set-up rather than a touchscreen, thankfully - and this reveals additional storage and a wireless smartphone charging pad. There's more storage beneath the centre armrest console, but the door pockets are only really average at best.

In the back, legroom for passengers is generous thanks to the car's relatively long wheelbase, but the middle seat is a bit narrow when compared with the outer chairs. Rear-seat passengers get air vents, though, while the two USB sockets on Flair models are a bonus. There are ISOFIX child seat mounts for the outer two seats.

Boot space is a respectable 545 litres in five-seat mode, plus there's additional storage under the boot floor. Levers in the side of the boot mean it's simple enough to fold the seat backs to create 1,640 litres of space. However, the seats don't fold completely flat. The tailgate is quite heavy to open and close, too, although the built-in load cover is a clever addition that feels robust enough to withstand the rigours of family life.

The Citroen C5 X driving experience

The comfortable cabin of the C5 X gives some clue as to the way that it drives. The steering wheel features a pair of gear shift paddles that are finished with shiny metal on the front but rubberised grips on the rear (and there's a small 'M' button next to the drive selector to select manual mode), but really this isn't the kind of car that gives you the urge to use them to hustle it along.

The nature of the suspension backs up this feeling, too. There's a very plush ride overall, and the car is supremely comfortable at all speeds. But the Advanced Comfort suspension's clever set-up means that the C5 X doesn't wallow as much as you might expect from a car that's so softly sprung. There's a surprising amount of poise to be found in corners, although again, it feels out of the C5 X's character to push it any harder than necessary.

This relaxed feeling is backed up by the 130hp 1.2 PureTech engine that we tested. A three-cylinder petrol engine sounds like it would be too puny to move such a large car with any enthusiasm, but while the C5 X is slow off the line, it's fine once you're moving thanks to a generous amount of mid-range torque. It does drop a gear or two if you accelerate on the motorway, for example, but otherwise it copes admirably. It's pretty quiet at a cruise, too, thanks to the long gearing of the eight-speed automatic gearbox. Wind and road noise are hushed, as well.

Around town, the light steering - which is a fraction too light and long-geared for our liking - delivers a great turning circle for such a large car. The main bugbear at low speeds is with Citroen's stop-start system. It's slow to react when you want to pull away in traffic and, when combined with the engine's sluggish response, it can make for jerky and frustrating progress. It's also very difficult to come to a halt smoothly, because the car's brakes are grabby as you press the pedal at anything below walking pace.

Still, the C5 X's long gearing and relaxed nature means that fuel efficiency should be good. Citroen quotes 6.0 litres per 100km on the WLTP test for the 1.2 PureTech model, and we managed 6.6 litres/100km during our time with the car, which included more than 500km of driving with a full load of passengers and luggage.

Our verdict on the Citroen C5 X

The Citroen C5 X features quirky styling and SUV-inspired detailing that moves it away from the all-but-dead family hatchback class, but it's likely to end up like its predecessors as a niche choice for buyers who don't want to stick to the default SUV. There aren't many direct rivals for it, but it's priced at a level that's similar to more practical family SUVs, although not many will be able to offer its level of comfort. If you're tempted, then we'd recommend the more powerful engines, because the 1.2 PureTech is just about at the limit of its abilities here.

What do the rest of the team think?

It's hardly the most powerful car on the road, but I found the C5 X to be utterly charming. It's a risky move, trying to meld the best aspects of an SUV, a saloon and an estate into one car but Citroen seems to have pulled it off successfully, and done so in a package that's tall enough to be roomy but low-slung and aerodynamic enough to be economical on longer runs. Combine that with some exceptional comfort and refinement and you have one of my favourite cars of the year.

Neil Briscoe - Editor-at-large

For me, the 1.2-litre C5 X is the one to have. Every C5 X is spacious, but the petrol option has a bigger boot than the hybrids and the ride is slightly more composed over broken surfaces. And though the hybrid powertrains will suit those with very specific lifestyles, the 1.2 sacrifices nothing in terms of all-road capability or real-world economy for most drivers - especially those doing long distances. Admittedly, the design won't be for everyone, and though I was a fan at first, it seems to get less appealing every time I look at it, but it's certainly distinctive and unmistakably Citroen-ish.

James Fossdyke


Tech Specs

Model testedCitroen C5 X Flair PureTech 130
Irish pricingC5 X from €42,370, €48,890 as tested
Engineturbocharged three-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol
Transmissioneight-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat crossover/estate
CO2 emissions136g/km
Irish motor tax€280 per annum
Fuel consumption6.0 litres/100km (47.1mpg)
Top speed209km/h
0-100km/h10.4 seconds
Max power130hp
Max torque230Nm
Boot space545-1,640 litres
Rivals to the C5 X 1.2 petrol (2022)