I just took a magic carpet ride in this car

The Citroën C5 X parked in the hills of Spain
(Image credit: TechRadar / John McCann)

“I can show you the world” Aladdin famously sang, “...on a magic carpet ride” and after my latest stint behind the wheel of a new car I’m very close to breaking out my Jasmine cosplay as I’ve now experienced the same sensation as the famous Disney princess.

I’m in Barcelona with Citroën to drive the French automaker's latest premium offering, the C5 X, which sits at the top of the firm’s range of vehicles, above the C4 and C5 AirCross.

The Citroën C5 sits in an awkward middle territory a it's a cross between a station wagon and a SUV, but it’s certainly not the only car of late to straddle categories, with plenty of other vehicles similarly stuck in an identity crisis - the Polestar 2 and Kia EV6 spring to mind.

Not that it’s an issue, and the benefit is the Citroën CX 5 offers impressive internal space, not only for riders in the front, but also those in the rear seats, while also offering plenty of luggage space in the back.

The vehicle comes packed with Citroën's latest tech, including the feature which gave me my magic carpet ride.

A whole new world

Citroën has a rich history when it comes to a smooth, comfortable ride in its vehicles. Its famous hydropneumatic suspension dates back almost 70 years to 1954's Citroën Traction Avant. 

In the decades since, Citroën has enhanced and engineered its suspension into increasingly sophisticated offerings, and the next generation makes its world debut on the new C5 X. It's a system the firm refers to as offering a flying carpet effect.

Known as Citroën Advanced Comfort Active Suspension it features exclusively in the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model of the C5 X, with the standard petrol model making do with the previous generation technology, which misses the 'Active' part of the next system.

So what does the addition of 'Active' in its name actually mean? Well, Citroën says it "combines the Progressive Hydraulic Cushions with active suspension control. The highly responsive system individually adapts the suspension of each wheel, softening or firming, according to the driving conditions encountered."

The C5 X is equipped with a series of sensors which scan the road ahead and adapt the suspension accordingly, ensuring those inside the cabin feel very little of imperfections in the road tarmac.

The Citroën C5 X parked in the hills of Spain

(Image credit: TechRadar / John McCann)

And it certainly does a good job. I drove the fully electric Citroën eC4 last year, which itself delivers a pretty smooth ride, but there is a marked step up when driving the C5 X.

The C5 X doesn't drive, it glides. As I wafted through central Barcelona, the smooth ride was clear. Road imperfections we gobbled up into nothing more than a very slight, and incredibly smooth bounce.

As we got out of the city and up into more mountainous, twisting roads, the suspension continued to impress on rougher tarmac. 

Add some impressive sound insulation, which keeps road noise to a minimum plus the times where the C5X plug-in drives in fully electric mode, and I found myself in a serene space which, yes, is similar to what I imagine a magic carpet ride to be.

The ride feels premium and the only car I’ve driven which can actually claim to provide a better ride experience is the Rolls-Royce Ghost - which costs ten times what the Citroën C5 X does.

Rags or riches?

So the Citroën C5 X has a premium ride, no doubt. There's also plenty of space for people and luggage, and a new touch screen infotainment system which brings more features and an easier to use interface to the large main display in the C5 X.

And while this is Citroën's most premium vehicle, surely it stacks up against other top-of-the-range cars from other brands, right? Well, not quite.

There's plenty going for the C5 X, but from my time with the car so far (I've driven it for just over two hours at time of writing) one thing that stood out to me almost immediately was the interior.

Citroen claims it provides a lounge interior in the C5 X, and while the seats are admittedly comfortable and the head room generous, it's hard to ignore the swaths of plastic that surround you. Now, that in itself isn't an immediate red flag, plenty of vehicles rely heavily on plastic-like materials, but in the C5 X there are a few things that feel cheap.

The Citroën C5 X parked in the hills of Spain

(Image credit: TechRadar / John McCann)

The plastic cover you can pull over the wireless phone charger and key cubby feels particularly lightweight, while a number of the switches and buttons on the steering wheel and surrounding the driver's position also don't have the same quality aesthetic to them as you’d find in, say ,an Audi or Mercedes.

In the C5 X's defense, while it is Citroën's most premium vehicle, its price tag is significantly less than the German rivals I've name-checked above.

The plug-in hybrid Citroën C5 X price starts at £35,180 (around $46,000 / AU$62,000) for the entry level 'Sense Plus' model and maxes out at £38,670 (around $50,000 / AU$68,000) for the top of the line 'Shine Plus' - so some compromises would have had to have been made along the way.

And that's alright, because I can't wait to get back on my magic carpet.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.