This particular Citroën C5X has a plug-in hybrid powertrain. A 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol mated to a front mounted electric motor for a combined 225PS (165kW). You can also get it with a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol and a 1.6.
With 250Nm (184lb ft) when both engine and motors are working the hybrid C5X will hit 62mph in a not-sluggish 7.9 seconds and head on to 145mph. The engine is OK, but really does rather need its electric accompaniment to keep everything ticking over properly, so do remember to charge it when you can. The batteries – 12.4kWh worth, mounted in the boot – have a range of around 37 miles and charge in roughly 90 minutes on a 7.4kW charger.
But speed in a straight line, or even around a bend, is not what Citroën is known for, or what the C5X is aiming for. The C5X is selling itself on old fashioned French comfort. So how comfortable is it? The answer is very, although there are a couple of qualifiers. The C5X has MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension, but on the hybrid both axles are blessed with Citroën’s Progressive Hydraulic Cushions. These work at the bumpstops to clean up the suspension action, removing all but the extremely harshest of holes in the road. The C5X hybrid form also has adaptive dampers so you can tune the level of waft.
How much you like it may well be personal choice. If you move to comfort mode the suspension can move all the way from “comfort” to just floating around the place. In true Citroën style we drove the C5X around one of Goodwood’s least well-kept fields, and you would barely have known it wasn’t fresh tarmac. But on the road for some that can move from comfortable to just too bouncy quickly. Hybrid mode balances things in a way that I enjoyed, riding the bumps incredibly well, but some at team GRR wanted the “sport” setting since it gathers everything together better.
The performance of that hydraulic system is showcased best over a sharp crest, where the C5X feels like it should hit the limits of its suspension travel with a crash, but instead floats into them, more like a feather hitting the ground than a brick – and this car weighs 1.8 tonnes. To add a little more surprise that extra softness doesn’t kill it in the corners. It’s not exciting or engaging, but at no point does it feel like roll is going to induce terror, just that it’ll treat them like something to get around rather than attack.