From £21,6707
The DS 5 is hard to pigeonhole but it works as a package. Impressive French-style long-range cruiser, albeit at strong money for an unproven brand

Our Verdict

DS 5

The Citroën DS5 is a handsome hatchback designed with a premium feel

  • First Drive

    2015 DS 5 BlueHDi 150 S&S review

    The DS 5 is hard to pigeonhole but it works as a package. Impressive French-style long-range cruiser, albeit at strong money for an unproven brand
  • First Drive

    Citroen DS5 LS first drive review

    Saloon version of Citroën's DS5 has been created to battle premium German rivals in China, but falls short

What is it?

The facelifted DS5, which is no longer a Citroën but a standalone DS model and the first ‘new’ car since DS became an independent entity last June.

The most obvious changes are to the styling of the car’s nose, where the new DS corporate grille makes its debut. It has a more upright stance and gets a wide, polished aluminium-effect surround, and replaces the old nose which wore the twin Citroën Chevrons as its main signature.

There have also been tweaks to the headlight design (which combines three distinct LED units and Xenon main beams, another DS signature) and the design of the lower bumper.

Inside, the highly distinctive ‘cockpit’ interior now gets a 7in touchscreen, Mirror Link for compatible smartphones and the curiously-named ‘eMyWay’ sat-nav system as standard on both the UK DS5 Prestige and Elegance trim levels.

The most important changes to the new DS 5, however, are under the skin. When the original DS 5 was launched to the press in 2011 it was immediately panned for the chassis’ exceptional inadequacy in dealing with sharp-edged obstacles.

Not only did the original car stumble over the edges of craters and the like but the rear suspension’s attempts to absorb the shock also resulted in a resounding thump through the structure. Running changes shortly after the car was launched did help, but the new model features a more comprehensive cure.

The new car has had its its ride height raised "by a few millimetres", according to DS, and it gets new shock absorbers with a longer compression stroke and "pre-loaded valve technology" that limits sudden changes in damper force.

The revised DS 5 line-up offers three strengths of BlueHDi diesel engine - with 118, 147 and 178bhp outputs - and a 162bhp turbocharged petrol motor.

The unusual 4x4 Hybrid model, which gets a 2.0-litre diesel engine driving the front wheels and an electric motor driving the rear wheels, also remains in the range as the flagship model. In top-end Prestige trim, the showroom price for that is £34,890.

The cheapest DS5 is the entry-level Elegance 118bhp BlueHDi diesel with a six-speed manual gearbox and a showroom price of £25,980.

What's it like?

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.

Should I buy one?

Quite possibly. If you are bored by the ubiquity of the Germanic premium and have a genuine taste for being different, the DS 5 might appeal. It might also appeal to drivers who like the raised ride height and air of unhurried progress that is the essence of the car.

It is hard to make direct comparisons, but the DS 5 is probably sized between the A3 Sportback and A4 Avant. In slightly less lavish ‘Elegance’ trim, the car is priced at £27,140, against the £28,128  you'd pay for an A4 Avant 150bhp diesel S Line.

Sure, it lacks the factory-stamped design precision and execution of the Audi, but the DS5 has its own distinct appeal and character as well as a pretty healthy standard spec.

The ‘entry-level’ Elegance lacks only leather, xenon headlights, front parking sensors and reversing camera of the Prestige model. You can add those fabulous seats for £2390 (£1690 on the Prestige) and full electrical assistance for the chairs for another £500. Another £500 buys you a Denon sound system.

Yes, the options can take the price well over £30k, but the DS brand wants you to treat the DS 5 as a semi-bespoke car among the laser-welded German business models.

It’s a pity, though, that the new torque convertor autobox is only offered on the BlueHDi 180, which starts at £29,620.

We’d recommend test-driving the DS 5. If nothing else, it’s genuinely original.

DS5 BlueHDi 150 S&S Prestige

Price £29,650; Engine 4 cyls, 1997cc, turbodiesel; Power 147bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 273lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1537kg; Top speed 127mph; 0-62mph 10.6sec; Economy 68.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 105g/km, 19%

Join the debate

Comments
19

21 May 2015
Raising the ride height - a hoary old trick last deployed by Rover in 1996 to address the iffy ride of the 800. Obviously the wheel travel of this car is seriously inadequate, too. There are many further parallels with the Rover. Both are products from ailing European manufacturers, glory days long gone. Both are tilted at the exec market. Both go against the market's "sportiness" grain. Both have had miniscule volumes. One would be able to say "both failed" but never underestimate the enduring desire of the French state to keep people making cars nobody wants.

22 May 2015
Norma Smellons wrote:

Raising the ride height - a hoary old trick last deployed by Rover in 1996 to address the iffy ride of the 800. Obviously the wheel travel of this car is seriously inadequate, too. There are many further parallels with the Rover. Both are products from ailing European manufacturers, glory days long gone. Both are tilted at the exec market. Both go against the market's "sportiness" grain. Both have had miniscule volumes. One would be able to say "both failed" but never underestimate the enduring desire of the French state to keep people making cars nobody wants.

You don't know what you're talking about. I wouldn't describe this car's volumes as "miniscule". It's the second-best selling DS model after the DS3. Citroen aren't chasing volume. Not everything's about flamin' volume. Citroen's glory days aren't long gone. Several of their current cars are current award winners - I'd say they're basking in the glory. You don't want this car, but that doesn't mean your opinion is what everyone else thinks. Get back on the misery bus.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

24 May 2015
Miniscule volumes - in Europe, Citroen sold just 12,000 of these things in 2014. That's roughly what Mercedes were selling of the *old* C Class, every month. Meanwhile, in China, annual DS5 sales are at a whopping 8,053. In March, they sold just eight DS5 models in the world's biggest car market. Furthermore, PSA Group (Citroen's owner) have lost over $4 billion per year during the past three years. "Basking in the glory" indeed. To quote your own words "you don't know what you're talking about." Nor is there much evidence of "working hard" or "being nice to people" in your comments I might add.

21 May 2015
So like the sound of this car , whatever Mr smellons says about raising the ride height being a cheap trick, it appears to have worked in this case. In response also to no one wanting these types of cars has Mr smellons noticed that these are a smash hit in China and BMW have invested plenty in their hatchback quasimodo cousins the 3 series gt and 5 series gt. Truly awful.However why no frontal shot of the new nose of the DS5 nor a shot of those allegedly wonderful to look at seats ? I'd take the interior of one of these over a BMW any day of the week, it's fun and interesting (or I think it is from the two very poor interior shots!)

21 May 2015
I have owned a DS5 for 2 years and it remains a distinctive and attractive (and totally reliable) car.
The ride in my (18 inch wheel) DS5 has never bothered me or any passenger driven in it, so if the new one is significantly better then it will be a very comfortable car indeed.

So much more interesting that the German alternatives.

21 May 2015
Let's get one thing straight - Citroen have always been at the forefront when it comes to ride quality at least they used to and now hopefully they have regained their ability albeit without their name on the product! I should know having driven around in many BORING german cars which never actually have any personality whatsoever and ride so badly. It also proves that Citroen need to go back to what they used to do and make their own dampers again... Unfortunately some people are willing French manufacturers to fail, probably because every British manufacturer already has.

21 May 2015
Sundym, "Mr" Smellons' first name is Norma. I think that makes her Ms/Miss/Mrs or whichever one she prefers. Car seems quite pricey to me. Will it retain its value as well as its German competitors do?

22 May 2015
That interior is something special. It still looks fresh and unlike anything else on the road. I drove the Hybrid top-spec one at an event at London Excel - it was quite a choppy ride with an inconsistent power delivery. Shame really, as if they got the 'waft-factor' right with this car it could have been a worthy DS. If the anti-diesel road-tax was lowered, the PSA V6 HDi would make this a perfect tourer.

22 May 2015
Will cost a fortune on lease/contract hire the depreciation will reach the moon,nice car and an alternative but not a prestige car,good alternative to a Mondeo or Passat.Wait for 3 to 4 years and get one for the price of a similar age Fiesta.

22 May 2015
...having launched the car with such a bad ride problem, must have hurt it's rep. Wonder if the truth it appears no to be fixed. Is enough to get more people onboard that DS band wagon. But people tend to be quick to judge. And the memories of the previous incompletely developed model. May continue to hurt sales.

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