Citroen C5 vs Skoda Superb

21 Jan, 2013 10:30am

Are you brave enough to choose the quirky Citroen C5? We test the facelifted model against the Skoda Superb

Being different isn’t easy – you only have to look at the Citroen C5 for proof of that. It’s the latest in a long line of technologically advanced yet slightly quirky family cars from the French company, but has failed to find favour with UK buyers since making its debut in 2008. In fact, in the last year, a mere 1,500 C5s have found homes on this side of the Channel.

In an effort to revive the car’s fortunes, Citroen has given its big saloon a mid-life refresh, which includes tweaked looks and trim, plus a new sat-nav set-up. There’s also a revised all-diesel engine line-up, and we test the 197bhp 2.2-litre HDi in Exclusive trim. Not only is this the top-of-the-range model, it’s also the only version to get the company’s trademark hydropneumatic suspension.

Squaring up to the Citroen is the Skoda Superb, which is one of our current class favourites. It’s spacious, versatile and good to drive, and a fine all-round choice.

So, should you dare to be different with the Citroen, or will you be better off with the sensible Skoda? We find out...


It was always going to be a tall order for the Citroen to overcome the brilliant Skoda Superb. The recent changes have helped keep the C5 looking fresh, but ultimately this subtle facelift isn’t enough to propel the car to the top of the class.

The cabin is cramped and a little dated compared to the Skoda’s, there’s not as much standard kit and the shockingly bad residuals mean you’d almost be better off setting fire to your money. Still, that’s not to say the Citroen doesn’t have its charms.

It looks great and boasts the sort of refinement you’d normally associate with a luxurious limousine. But it’s the Hydractive suspension that’s the star turn, as it delivers an uncannily smooth ride.

The Superb can’t match the C5 for comfort and style, but it has it soundly beaten in almost every other respect, from its huge and well equipped interior to its engaging driving experience. Factor in the versatile TwinDoor tailgate and stronger fuel economy, and the Skoda is still our top family choice.

Yet it’s not all good news, as high CO2 emissions make the Superb a costly company car choice. We’d choose the Elegance model, which has almost the same amount of desirable kit, yet costs less.

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I own a Superb estate, having bought it while my wonderful - but awful - C5 estate was still in the garage, where it spent 9 of the first 12 weeks of 2012.

Wonderful in many ways, but impossible to live with.

People buy Citroëns not because they're the cheapest to run or most versatile. They're almost always the most charming.

I had one of the previous model C5 'hatchbacks'. A truly awful car, with seats so soft you wondered how you were ever going to get out again, sick making suspension, an auto gearbox fault that citroen denied could even exist, and took them over 4 months to fix (caused by the supplying dealer incorrectly fitting tow bar wiring????) etc. etc.
We nicknamed it 'scrap' because of the way bits kept falling off!
Thank god it was a company car, and not a purchase.

I had the C5 saloon, it was gorgeous, we drove it to Italy and it was such a joy even with a car load of luggage. The 1.6 hdi is one the best diesel engines I have ever owned, economical, refined with adequate pulling power. The only problems I had was the drop links. All corners went and some went more than once all under 40k miles and to top it off they refused to cover them under warranty as they claimed it was a ware and tear item. Even though a VW mechanic friend told me they always cover theirs. Depreciation is savage, but that's good for used buyers. I would choose the C5 if your after a super comfortable tourer.

Isn't the Skoda Octavia a more direct comparison with the C5?

I miss my C5. I had it on a 3 year personal lease - absolute bargain. In 3 years, the only thing that went wrong was the headlamp levelling motor (replaced under warranty the next day), and other than tyres and a £99 service at franchise dealer, never cost a penny. Incredibly comfortable for a tall-bloke like me. Can't believe you're calling it 'quirky'.

I spent 3 days in Prague this week for business meetings, in 3 occasions I had a driving experience in a Skoda Superb and once with a VW CC. I do NOT understand that these cars do get such good ratings in many car magazines. Yes, the Superb is very spacious, yes the instrumentation is very good, especially in relation to the price you pay, but comfort is TERRIBLE; the seast are hard, unpleasant, and the suspensions are far too stiff. You survive if the roads are in excellent conditions, but if not you are longing to step out of ther car. And design is really boaring (old man's car). Comfort in the CC Passat was almost as a bad, but the car looks much better.

Skoda and hookers both have one thing in common. You feel okay while you are in it/ driving or otherwise. But once you are done and out, you feel much ashamed.
Citroen C5 MKII on the other hand has a looks, appearance, style and unbeatable comfort. But it's name...hmm.
Still great car to drive.

Back to Skoda - If "engaging driving experience" means dull interior, loud German engine and stiff ride then I'll rather get the original then a clone - The Passat. It's Just as boring but less ugly the Superb.