Citroen C5 VTR HDi

If there is one model that has kept Citroen's ageing Saxo alive for nearly seven years, it's the VTR. While the hair-raising VTS supermini was the version performance fans craved, the cheaper VTR attracted more buyers. So with the introduction of a C5 VTR edition, can the sporty badge work its magic on the firm's family car?

If you expected a C5 with added VTR spice, you'll be disappointed. The new model is good value for private buyers taking the cashback offer, but with no suspension or engine modifications, and the bodykit on the optional extras list, we feel that the respected VTR badge is being exploited.

If there is one model that has kept Citroen's ageing Saxo alive for nearly seven years, it's the VTR. While the hair-raising VTS supermini was the version performance fans craved, the cheaper VTR attracted more buyers. So with the introduction of a C5 VTR edition, can the sporty badge work its magic on the firm's family car?

Disappointingly, this C5 is no faster than any other variant. It has the 110bhp 2.0-litre HDi diesel engine that's used across the range, and is also offered with a 1.8 petrol unit for buyers who want a cheaper option. The oil-burner seen here is a stronger performer, though, and returns 50mpg with low emissions of 147g/km.

Externally, you would be forgiven for thinking we've taken pictures of the wrong car - can this really be a sporty model? The only notable features are the rear spoiler and deeper front air-dam, but these are part of the VTR Sports Pack, which will normally cost customers an extra £400. Thankfully, if you buy before the end of this month these options are fitted for free, but we would have expected them to be standard anyway. At least the 16-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels are distinctive.

Without suspension tweaks, there aren't any changes to the C5's dynamics. That means a set-up suitable for comfortable cruising rather than inspiring handling. Thanks to the Hydractive 3 self-levelling system, the ride is soft and relaxing on long motorway trips, but a lack of feel in the steering and a stodgy gearchange take any fun out of the driving experience.

A £2,000 cashback offer if you buy before the end of the month takes the price of this VTR down to £14,495. Compared with Ford's £16,645 Mondeo TDdi Zetec and Renault's £15,645 Laguna 1.9-litre dCi Expression, the C5 looks good on price. There's plenty of equipment, too. Anti-lock brakes, six airbags, air-con, four electric windows and automatic wipers are all included.

But is this what the VTR badge is about? A Saxo VTR means affordable performance and fun. C5 VTR buyers are merely getting the affordable part. Whatever the car's price, they could well end up feeling shortchanged.

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