Citroen, as a manufacturer, has been around for
many years since Andre Citroen commissioned Jules Salomon to design a
car suitable for mass production, a concept in which young Citroen was
keenly interested. That was in 1919 with the Type A which the company
manufactured more than 10,000 units each year between 1919-1921.
Our Down-under correspondent, John Weinthal, has
just spent some time with a Citroen and unearthed some more
interesting, but this time Antipodean facts. Here are the Words from
“I have learned some interesting things about the
French car maker Citroen recently. For instance, Citroen claims to be
the longest uninterrupted car importer on the Australian market, and
in 1925 Baptist missionary Neville Westwood became the first person to
drive a car right around Australia when he completed the epic journey
in a Citroen 5CV.
“Citroen is enjoying new success here in
Australia since a change in importers and local dealers a few years
back. And Citroen is reclaiming its reputation as a maker of
innovative cars with its highly original luxury C5 sedan and the
soon-to-be-released C3 small car.
“Lovers of Citroens past, such as the original
traction avant models - the world’s first really successful
volume-produced front-wheel-drive cars - and the wonderful DS and ID
models of the 1960s and later, will appreciate both these new
“This is good news for all who are interested in
cars as more than just devices for getting from A to B. Citroen at the
very least challenges other makers to reconsider some of their proven,
but far from brave, practices.
“These days Citroen is owned by the same group as
Peugeot. For very good cost and engineering reasons they share some
basic car platforms, but the two have then followed their own
distinctive paths. The C5 and C3 further emphasise the different
marque values of Peugeot and Citroen.
“In Australia Citroen is also determined to win
sales with interesting cars which are very well equipped and which are
priced to attract people wanting something different without
initiating a trip to the bankruptcy courts.
“This week’s test car was certainly different -
a leather-clad luxury car with an impressive standard equipment list
PLUS a diesel engine. Not only is it one of the few diesel engined
cars available here, but it is unique in costing less than its 2 litre
four cylinder sister C5 sedan. Diesels normally cost more than their
petrol equivalents in this country.
“The Citroen C5 diesel is available only as an
automatic with a modern adaptive transmission and steptronic manual
control when the driver wants it. It costs AUD 43,750 which is $240
less than the automatic 2 litre petrol C5. (Dr. Iain’s note - in
this country, the petrol engined C5 is about 1,000 baht less expensive
than the diesel which comes on the market a smidgen over 2 million
“But the common rail diesel model is only a small
part of the C5 story. It has computer controlled hydraulic suspension
which is self-levelling and ensures flat cornering. It can be raised
to cross bush tracks or dry creeks so it has almost the same clearance
as a Pajero. On the highway it lowers itself for better aerodynamics -
which means improved economy.
“It has automatic headlamps and wipers plus all
the usual gadgetry, and a few extras like full powered seat adjustment
for the driver and front passenger and fold down central armrests in
the front and back. The interior is much bigger than one expects
because it has a tall body, and the bone leather of the test car
looked like a million dollars.
“So, we have a true luxury car with a host of
technical bonuses - far more than I have covered here in fact. And
although it develops only 82kW, the diesel has high torque and can
stay with all traffic from about 50 kays and upwards. Below 50 kph it
is a little sluggish and very noisy. At idle, the noise is like a
rattly diesel LandCruiser or Patrol.
“But everything smoothes out above about 55 or 60
kays and the C5 cruises exactly how it looks like it should. The 101
kW four cylinder petrol and the extravagant AUD 57,000 157kW 3 litre
V6 are no doubt more refined, but neither could come anywhere near the
diesel for economy. Citroen claims it will go up to 1500 km on a 68
litre tankful. I doubt that very much - certainly not in city driving.
But I averaged 7.8 litres per hundred kilometers and that is quite
impressive for such a fully equipped luxury sedan.
“Frankly I could not live with the diesel as a
mainly town or city car. But if I lived in the bush or travelled long
distances regularly it would make a huge amount of sense. The comfort
is quite remarkable with the hydraulic suspension. It loves bad
surfaces and winding hill roads.
“It is good to see Citroen again offering stylish
cars with innovative answers. You will have to spend a little time
with the handbook to get the most from your C5, but it will reward you
for years to come.”