Taking inspiration from the massive success of France’s luxury brands, Citroën created the DS brand in 2009 to “express French style and luxury with beautiful details and exceptional quality".

The brand was intended to be more upmarket than mass-market, if not a direct competitor to Mercedes and BMW. The DS5 tested here completes the initial incarnation of the DS line.

The crossover hatchback is also interesting because, while the link is unacknowledged by Citroën, this may be the closest thing to the original DS that France's famous double-chevron has produced in almost 40 years.

The first modern Citroën DS was, by contrast to that 1955 technological and stylistic trailblazer, more of an urban fashion hatchback than an expression of French luxury. Nevertheless, the Mini-like DS3 quickly became a success following its launch in 2010, becoming Citroën UK’s best-selling model in the process. Next along was the slightly underwhelming DS4 crossover.

The dramatically styled DS5 is an intriguing mix of high-roofed hatchback, coupé and sports estate, the result of the mounting pressure on the traditional D-segment family saloon in Europe.

It’s still an important sector, but selling cars in it is not as simple now as it once was. Roll back the clock a decade or so and if you wanted a full-size car of moderate price, there was little alternative.

However, the birth of MPVs, compact SUVs and crossovers, combined with the solid residuals of otherwise more expensive compact executive cars, means that things are no longer so simple.

There is now plenty of choice and, as Renault has already discovered to the Laguna’s cost, you’ve got to give customers a damned good reason to buy a relatively ordinary traditional family car.

That’s why the likes of the DS5 now exist, crafting together several different styles of cars into a package you won’t find anywhere else.

Top 5 Family hatchbacks

  • Volkswagen Golf

    Volkswagen Golf

    1
  • The popular Ford Focus in 1.5 TDCi Zetec form
    The standout component of the Ford Focus has always been its handling

    Ford Focus

    2
  • Seat Leon
    Seat offers five engines for the Leon, ranging from a 104bhp 1.2 petrol to a 181bhp 2.0 diesel

    Seat Leon

    3
  • Mazda 3
    The SkyActiv platform used in the 3 features more high and ultra-high-strength steel, offering greater strength and less weight

    Mazda 3

    4
  • Peugeot 308
    The 308 marks the first time a carry-over name has been applied to an all-new Peugeot

    Peugeot 308

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the DS range

Driven this week

  • Car review
    9 December 2016
    Audi Sport drops a sub-4.0sec-to-60mph bomb into Porsche Cayman territory
  • First Drive
    9 December 2016
    Plug-in-hybrid 3 Series shows the benefit of BMW's experience with the i3 and i8. Sophisticated, swift and broadly talented to drive – and sweet-handing, too
  • Car review
    9 December 2016
    Italian brand emerges as a true luxury power with a large SUV
  • 2016 Porsche Panamera Turbo
    First Drive
    8 December 2016
    A smaller engine doesn't prevent the new Porsche Panamera Turbo being a ridiculously quick and capable sporting GT. We've driven it in the UK
  • 2016 Vauxhall Adam 1.0i Turbo Unlimited
    First Drive
    8 December 2016
    The 1.0-litre turbo engine and Unlimited trim combine to make this the best Adam in the line-up