I know I’ve said it before, but I like a Citroen. In fact, I own one and I’m very happy with it so I’m always pleased to receive them for evaluation. When Citroen added the DS sub-brand a few years ago it was, they said, designed to “express French style and luxury with beautiful details and exceptional quality”. Essentially, when you get past the usual automotive hyperbole, this means they wanted an upmarket version of their cars. Just like this DS5.
This proved to be a good move because the DS3 in particular has become immensely popular, so much so that now the Citroen name has been dropped and the DS brand hived off to fend for itself. Hence the car tested here is simply the DS5 and jolly good it is too, with only a couple of minor reservations. There’s a detailed specification at the bottom of the page.
On the test car the driver’s left foot rest creaked all the time. This was REALLY IRRITATING. I suspect that the problem was caused by the great clod-hopping plates of the other motoring writers who have driven this vehicle, not having the lightness of touch of yours truly. I doubt it would be an issue on the retail versions.
On The Inside
The DS5 is a family sized hatchback that feels roomy in the front with lovely, comfortable and grippy seats but the back unfortunately doesn’t have the space that the exterior dimensions suggest. It’s not cramped; the word, I guess, is ‘adequate’. What this does allow for though is a big boot of 465L with the seats up. The front seats have adjustable seat squabs, a feature I always appreciate.
I absolutely love the cockpit roof. With three separate glass areas, one for the back passengers and with the front two separated by overhead, aircraft-inspired buttons and toggle switches to operate the electric blinds and the like. There’s a head’s-up display plus a new colour touchscreen to access all the in-car functions, from navigation to music and all the other expected toys. It’s straightforward to use and helps to simplify driver layout on the dashboard and fascia. A nice touch is the little clock that harks back to the original DS days.
What isn’t leather on this ‘Prestige’ model is soft-touch plastic of good quality. No nasty, scratchy stuff that sounds like fingernails on a blackboard. There’s plenty of storage space with nicely shaped – and illuminated – cup holders in the door pockets. Overall, the DS5 has a premium feel which, at a price of around £33k for this range-topper, buyers have a right to expect.
On The Outside
The looks are elegant, if understated. I would have liked perhaps a little more daring from the designers but that seems to be a lament I often mention these days. The exterior has flowing lines, accentuated by chrome which runs along the wings to meet the side windows. I like the rear view with the twin exhaust outlets but the placement of the spoiler – although in keeping with the sweep of the roof line – does impede the view out of the back window. The overall effect is smart and has up-market appeal.
On The Road
One gripe that some have had about the DS5 is with the ride. It’s much improved on this new model but still errs on the side of firm. In fact, I rather like it, preferring it the the ‘sponge’ effect that is sometimes referred to by that horrible word ‘plush’. This doesn’t reflect though on the handling. Although lean is well controlled on corners it’s fairly easy to induce a touch of understeer although, in the real world, the buyers of this car are unlikely to want to go out and rag it to the limit of adherence. The steering has a heavy feel which I quite like although this doesn’t translate into that elusive ‘feel’, but again, that is not why you’d buy this car.
The DS5 is meant to be a smooth driver as reflected in the new EAT6 six-speed torque converter auto ‘box. It’s fine, but doesn’t have that crispness of, say, the DSG and that hesitation is noticeable when trying to press on. There is a push-me, pull-me manual option but I didn’t see the point. Press the ‘Sport’ button and it opens the throttle tap a little for more immediate response, which was my preferred setting.
There’s a sporting 197bhp petrol engine available – which would be my choice – but otherwise it is diesels all the way. There’s the inevitable undernourished eco version and some mid-range motors but this is a heavy car and the best bet would be to go for the 178bhp engine I tested here. Not quick from the standing start but once a mighty 295lbft of torque kicks in at 2000rpm you’re off. DS reckon that 62mpg should be on the cards aided by the unobtrusive Stop/Start system. I only saw 38mpg but, to be fair, I spent most of the time in ‘Sport’ mode, utilising the performance. I imagine a more sedate driver could do a lot better.
Did I mention that I like a Citroen? It’s just one of those things you can’t explain, like food preferences or a penchant for weird shirts like Eddie Jordan. The DS5 is much improved from the previous Citroen designated model. It is sleek and smart on the outside and the refined, design-led interior is a standout. In a sea of BMW’s and Audi’s and posh Mondeo’s the DS5 makes for a great alternative choice for both personal and business use. Geoff Maxted
Author’s note: Apart from a couple of passenger’s phone snaps (seen below) taken after a long drive in appalling weather, the images you see here are courtesy of DS. I always take my own pictures as you know but, thanks to my cack-handed blundering, the memory card that contained the DS5 is no more. I don’t want to talk about it, okay?