On the test route, which ran from the countryside, along a motorway and into central Paris, we tried the BlueHDi 150 S&S (stop-start) with a six-speed manual ’box. In top-line Prestige trim, it costs £29,560, although the standard specification can only be described as generous.
The DS 5 remains an attractive and individual car. Four years on from launch, the appeal of the styling is undimmed, especially the combination of deep body sides, a narrow side glazing and a sloping roofline.
The interior is also for the most part unchanged, which means a substantial centre console and dramatically sloping dashboard. Unlike the established German premium brands, which are moving to ever more minimalist interior treatments, the DS 5 is loud and proud in its difference.
The unusual ‘shark tooth’ switches on the centre console and the big, circular, dials that control the climate control system fly in the face of the dominaant German premium-brand design language, but that’s what DS – with its new ‘spirit of avant-garde' tag line – is supposed to be about.
The DS 5 is an unusual vehicle, a kind of cross between a premium hatchback, coupé and crossover. It’s no worse for that. The raised ride height makes it very easy to get into the front seats (which were the extremely comfortable optional leather items with stylish ‘watch bracelet’ leather finish).
The volumous dashboard and console are supposed to be inspired by aircraft cockpit design and – combined with the relatively shallow windscreen, do give the driver a strong sense of enclosure. This is in effect relieved neatly by the so-called ‘cockpit roof’, which are two small glazed panels position above the heads of the front occupants.
Things are a little tighter for rear passengers but the big, square boot is of a decent size for the luggage of four passengers.
Although the flat-bottomed steering wheel is perhaps a little oversized and could do with a more inward adjustment, and the seat could usefully drop another 10mm or so for taller drivers, this is a comfortable cabin.
This manual transmission car has a pleasingly high-set gearlever and a stylish chunky gearknob, neither of which have to flatter the shift action, which is clean and unobstructed.
The 147bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine is also impressivlye refined and only really audible at wide throttle openings when accelerating up from low speeds. It is surprising how quickly it spools up which, combined with the in-gear refinement, means it is especially easy to gain speed and exceed the local limits without realising.
As part of the emphasis on refinement, the DS has been fitted with acoustically damped glass in the side windows (they are of triple-section construction with a plastic layer sandwiched between conventional glass). It works; at motorway speeds, the DS 5 is composed and hushed.
On backroads, there’s a touch of the SUV advantage about the DS 5, whose raised ride height and driving position make it easy to steer around tight bends.
Clearly this is not a car in a rush and there’s little point trying to wrestle from apex to apex, but it can be threaded along at a reasonable clip. One small annoyance, though: in tight, low-speed bends the lower corner of the steering wheel (where the continuous curve bends into the rim’s flat bottom) seemed to spend far too much time planted uncomfortably in the middle of my palm.
Most importantly, the terrible ride problem with the original model has been pretty much eliminated, and the car even made a decent fist of Parisian cobbles. The DS 5 is a civilized, long-striding animal with more than a hint of the traditional French ‘grande routier’ cars of the past. It is not an autobahn stormer, but it is all the better for it.