On Monday Citroën introduced their new flagship and somewhat of a new class in the brand’s quest to compete with sedans that have morphed into SUVs while keeping a wagon theme in a sleeker more sporting form factor. The CX5 is the first new model to be offered under Stellantis (the parent company formed from the merger of Groupe PSA and Fiat/Chrysler Automobiles — FCA). It is a clever fusion that has been bestowed on Citroën to introduce and gauge reception, presumably to see if such a trend should be followed with the more than a dozen other brands now part of Stellantis.
The C5 X marks the re-entry of Citroën into the large sedan segment, dominated by German carmakers, and Citroën hopes it will help end six years of declining sales in China, the world’s biggest car market. Slated to go on sale in the second half of the year in China and European markets, it will be available in both petrol and plug-in hybrid versions.
The relatively flat roofline says sedan for the most part, but the elongated rear brings that wagon effect while the tall ride height is reminiscent of the C5 AirCross, Citroën’s other C5-badged model that is a fully fledged SUV.
The new Citroën C5 X draws heavy inspiration from the 2016 CXperience concept for its design. At 4,805 millimeters (189.1 inches) long, 1,865 mm (73.4 in) wide, and 1,485 mm (58.4 in) tall, the new C5 X is smaller than its German rivals. It offers 545 liters (19.2 cubic feet) of cargo volume behind the rear seats, which can be expanded to 1,640 liters (57.9 cu ft) after folding the rear seats to enable a flat floor.
Both ends of the new C5 X feature Citroën’s latest V-shaped LED lights, a design cue that was first seen in the latest C4.
Fitting for its flagship, the new C5 X comes with Citroën’s proprietary Advanced Comfort suspension, with the plug-in hybrid version taking things further by featuring an active suspension utilizing Progressive Hydraulic Cushions offering three modes to choose from, with the softest setting allowing the car to ‘glide’ over the road and the firmest setting enabling “sharper control and precision” during cornering.
In addition, the new C5 X features a spacious cabin fitted with special ‘Advanced Comfort’ seats; these come with special padding that works as a cushion seat top layer to provide true comfort, while also using a high-density layer and thickened structured foam underneath for “dynamic and postural comfort”, (like the GS) that Citroën claims will keep passengers and the driver relaxed even after long journeys.
Elsewhere on the inside, there’s all the typical modern gadgetry, including a head-up display that features a full-color, large-scale projection onto the windscreen for what Citroën claims is a more immersive and relaxed driving experience. Yet there’s a 12-inch touchscreen display that features customizable screens with various widgets and infotainment controls, but thankfully they offer separate physical controls for the climate settings.
Also in cabin: four USB sockets and a wireless smartphone charger.
In addition, the new flagship Citroën model features a long list of active safety systems, including Highway Driver Assist -a Level 2 driver-assistance system-, Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Top 360 Vision Surround View Camera.
It is disconcerting that Citroën has succumbed what other bands are doing by removing a physical gearshift (in the automatic equipped C5 Xs).
What may be more offensive to the French, and France’s economy, is that Citroën announced it will manufacture the C5 X in the city of Chengdu in China.
A variety of gasoline engines are planned, but Citroën highlights the plug-in hybrid powertrain with 225 horsepower combining a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder and an electric motor, which will be capable of driving up to 84 mph (135 km/h) in EV mode and offer a pure electric driving range of up to 31 miles (50 km).
Citroën CEO Vincent Cobée projects the brand to increase its proportion of sales from outside Europe to 30% of the total by 2025 from around 15% last year.
He said the company was targeting annual sales of between 1.3 million and 1.5 million cars in five year’s time. Citroën has posted drops in sales for six straight years. Last year it sold 717,190 vehicles, well below a target of 1.6 million set for 2021.
Video the introductory video of C5 X here: