By George Dyke….
When John McCulloch, former President of Amicale Citroën Internationale and co-editor of Citroënvie traveled to France in 2009, Citroën gave him a brand new second generation C5 to drive.
He returned to Canada raving about how how great the car was, even better than a C6 that he had the privilege to drive the year before. In John’s words; “It was the best Citroën that the company has made in a long time”.
It would appear John’s observation about the C5 was astute as almost a decade later C6 owners are discovering that Citroën’s flagship sedan has its foibles.
Produced from 2006 – 2012, and inspired by the Citroën C6 Lignage concept, first shown at the Geneva Motor Show in the spring of 1999, the C6 production model was officially launched in November 2005, almost six years later than Citroën had originally planned. It was the replacement to the XM which ceased production in June 2000. Just 23,421 examples were built. (This excludes the C6 model sold in China from 2016 to the present that is an entirely different car, based on the PSA EMP2 platform of the second-generation versions of the Citroën C4 Picasso , Peugeot 308 and Peugeot 408.)
The C6 was aimed to set a new stylish alternative to the German executive cars like the BMW 5 Series, the Audi’s A6 and Mercedes’ E Class sedans. At its introduction it was described as “spaceship that rides on air”, “charmingly idiosyncratic” and “refreshingly different”. Citroën hoped that the C6’s selling points would be its innovative technology, which included a head-up display, a lane departure warning system, xenon directional headlamps, Hydractive 3+ suspension with electronically controlled springing and damping, and a rear spoiler which automatically adjusts to speed and braking.
The C6 was the first car to obtain four stars in the pedestrian test rating of EuroNCAP, due to the inventive design, where the hood popped up by 65 mm using a pyrotechnic mechanism if a person/animal is hit, thus increasing the gap between the deformable hood, and the non deformable engine components as well as giving a reduced slope of impact toward the windshield.
However, much of the advanced technology put into the C6 has proven to be a challenge to maintain. Ronald Kienhuis in France shares his trepidation about owning a C6:
It’s more a computer than a car. Just opening a trunk or whatever one can hear all sorts of electronica starting up.
Mine has 212000 kms and being such a quit car I have noticed a new rumbling sound. Wheel bearings?
In cold weather, you have to be very careful opening the doors as the self closing windows tend to freeze shut and as such can cause them to break. Great for wind silence but…
Changing certain parts require total dismantling of the front fenders grill etc. This has the be done to even change a light bulb.
Just replacing a small plastic union for the cooling system that cracked required removing half of the front of the car.
I can attest to the front suspension problems as I went through 3 sets of front tires within the first 30,000km due to badly worn bushing etc. Hopefully that is now sorted out. When I go to Holland I make sure to make an appointment with one of the specialists there (Oldenhagen) and have some work done. They adjusted the suspension to factory settings and it now rides even, as before there was a definite lean right in the front and lean left in the rear.
According to most C6 blogs, the 2.7 liter diesel is the one to avoid. Of course this one is in the majority of C6’s, including mine.
The transmission can be troublesome. Mine used to slip so I had Oldenhagen specially flush it (it is the equivalent of 7 regular flushes). Even though he claimed it would not solve the slippage, it has actually mostly solved it. He definitely advised against doing it again though.
In England there are no more windshields available as are frankly most parts as Citroën has stopped producing them.
No matter what, it always tells me upon starting off that the rear passengers are not buckled up even if there are no passengers.
The rear AC tends to start and stop as it feels like.
Another sore point is the GPS system. It requires the installation of a CD. Go into another country and you have to change discs. New sets cost 149€ but have not been updated after 2016 (in reality probably a 2014 version of the roads).
The turning lights point at the sky and are a pain to adjust, BUT, at some point I will search for a 3.0 L last year model so I can drive it as long as possible (it also has an improved radio and GPS).
I just LOVE the heads up display and the turning lights!!!
If you think owning a C6 in Europe seems like a daunting challenge, bringing one over to North America can be even more so. This request came in from a C6 owner in Canada:
My C6 refuses to get out of bed and rise.
It was when I approached the car I could hear an electric motor start and the car would rise so that when you got in to drive it would be ready to go. There was no waiting.
Now the car, when it starts even, will not rise. The hydraulics for the steering and the brakes are working properly but the car itself will not rise.
I wonder if you have any idea where to look or have a name for somebody I could call on where to start.
Such frustrations with the C6 are causing some owners to trade their C6 in for a C5.
The first generation C5 produced from March 2001 to December 2007, replaced the Xantia. Sharing the same underpinnings of the C6, including Hydractive 3+ suspension, and available in sedan or wagon versions, but it was not well received due to it’s disproportionately bland styling.
Citroën did a facelift in 2004 which did little to improve its looks.
In 2007 Citroën presented the C Airscape concept, at the Frankfurt Motor Show won design accolades from the motoring press and the public.
Shortly thereafter, in February 2008, a fully restyled version of the C5 referred to as the “X7” came to market, nearly identical to the C Airscape in design, but forgoing the two-door ragtop in favour of sedan and wagon versions. The new C5 could be ordered with either Hydractive 3+, or conventional spring/shock suspension (a la Peugeot).
In 2011, the C5 was given a mild facelift, with a few cosmetic changes, such as LED lights. And throughout production there were a number of engine offerings from 1.6L to 3.0L diesel or gas versions mated to 5 or 6-speed manual gearboxes or a 6-speed automatic.
The C5 “X7” was the last hydropneumatic suspension car offered by Citroën. Discontinued in 2018 and with only a small percentage having been produced with Hydractive 3+ suspension, which by this point had been sorted out to be problem-free, it is this version that C6 owners are beginning to cherish.
Julian Marsh in the UK (and editor of the Citroënet website) recently sold his C6 (after owning it for 11 years) and bought a C5. He tells why:
My C6 started costing some real money – £3k in the first three months of this year.
It is a sadly compromised car – the front suspension was not designed for the weight and FRIP joints and ball joints become service items.
The electronics are ‘up to’ series 1 XM standards (in other words atrociously unreliable).
The diesel engine is loaded with electronics and other stuff that also requires far too much attention.
And Citroën no longer supply parts.
I now have a C5 X7 2.2 HDi 200 – http://www.Citroënet.org.uk/passenger-cars/psa/c5/my-car/c5-2013.html
The C5 is a better drive and is quicker and more economical too. It uses much of the C6 tech – like Hydractive 3 suspension and rides better than the C6.
There are videos such as this one from JayEmm that have appeared online, extolling the virtues of the C5:
“Why The 2007 Citroën C5 is WAY BETTER Than You Think”:
This series of videos provide a good understanding of the C5 X7:
Citroën C5 X7 – A Review | Part1 | A Short History
Citroën C5 X7 – A Review | Part 2 | Exterior and Interior
Citroën C5 X7 – A Review | Part 3 | What it’s like to drive
Citroën C5 X7 – A Review | Part 4 | What it’s like to own (and