What's the used DS DS 5 hatchback like?
Citroën first introduced its upmarket DS brand to the world in 2009, originally with the cars still badged primarily as Citroën.
The firm’s aim was to imbue these new models with some of the style and the technical innovation of the legendary 1955 Citroën DS. However, in a bid to distance the new brand from Citroën’s present-day discount-store image, DS cars were split off into their own brand.
This dramatically styled DS 5 is an executive rival to the likes of the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series, but it offers something a little different to those saloons by being more of a high-roofed hatchback, with hints of coupé and sporting SUV. To succeed, it needed to offer something very special in this premium class, and if that criteria were based solely on looks, it would certainly be getting off to a good start.
The 5's engine line-up includes three diesel and two petrol units, plus a diesel-electric hybrid with all-wheel drive, although poor sales put an end to this model in 2016.
There are three trim levels on offer, with entry-level Elegance very well equipped with sat-nav, climate control and a three-part glass roof with electric sunblinds. The ante is upped further in Performance Line and the top-of-the-range and handsomely equipped Prestige trim.
On the road, the 5 is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s the diesel engines that are the biggest sellers here, and if the entry-level 1.6-litre BlueHDi 120 doesn't feel powerful enough for a car of this size, the 2.0-litre HDi 150 and 180 versions are both smooth and punchy.
Alas, the 5 is very far from matching the smooth ride and sharp handling of its top rivals, and its steering, vague, lifeless and rather heavy. It also suffers from a fairly firm ride that's easily caught out by imperfect surfaces, and that means it’s not the most relaxing executive car to drive or be driven in. On top of that, refinement is reasonable around town, but wind and road noise intrude at higher speeds.
The 5 has a striking interior with an eye-catching centre console and some very flamboyant design touches, but in terms of perceived quality, the materials used still trail those of German rivals by quite some margin.
The driving position is good and the seats are comfortable, and there’s plenty of room up front, but space in the rear is rather cramped, due to the car’s stylish sloping roofline, and the boot is a little smaller than most rivals’. The 5’s fashionable shape also means that visibility is a little limited, especially to the sides and the rear.
So, the 5 is clearly a stand-out and individualistic design in a staid class, with many likeable qualities. It's not the last word in driving sophistication, and its prices when new were disturbingly high, but discounts were on offer and its used prices could yet persuade you to take a look and maybe take the plunge.