2014 Citroen DS5 2.0 BlueHDi 120 review

Citroen has tweaked the suspension of its DS flagship in a bid to make it more comfortable and the car is also available with an efficient new 2.0-litre diesel engine. We try it in the UK...

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John McIlroy
17 Sep 2014 14:34 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 00:03

The Citroen DS5 is still a relatively rare sight on British roads – but you're pretty much guaranteed to notice one when you do come across it. Citroen's designers created a distinctive shape for the car, which aims to offer an alternative to established family cars like the Ford Mondeo and VW Passat, and the smaller executive models from BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

Even now, more than three years into its life, the DS5 offers distinctive design, but its problem has always been its driving experience – in particular its ride quality, which has been far too choppy and harsh for British roads.

Citroen has continued to chip away at the line-up, though; it introduced a revised DS5 earlier this year and now we're able to try the car with a frugal 2.0-litre, 118bhp diesel engine and, crucially, more modest 17in alloy wheels. Can it correct the big Citroen's faults?

What's the 2014 Citroen DS5 2.0 Blue HDi DStyle like to drive?

First, the good news. The 2.0-litre diesel engine has a bit of clatter as you start up but in general, it's a smooth companion with enough low-end punch to maintain swift progress. This motor gets a six-speed manual gearbox and while it has a slightly long throw, it's one of Citroen's better transmissions, with a reasonably slick action that helps you to keep the engine in its power band.

The ride comfort still isn't stellar, but it's an improvement on any DS5 with 18in or 19in wheels (and if you fit either of those, good luck to you). The DS5 remains a car that transmits too many of the UK's numerous road imperfections through to the base of the driver's seat – but with the smaller wheels, it's really only the largest, sharpest jolts that will annoy you. It's worth remembering, too, that DStyle isn't actually the most basic trim level; it sits above DSign in the line-up, and thus gets 17in alloys instead of the entry-level edition's 16-inchers.

One area that hasn't improved is the steering. It doesn't do a good job of telling you what the front wheels are doing, and there's too much vagueness around the straight ahead for you to have a lot of confidence when it comes to throwing the DS5 at a corner. Much like an old-school Citroen of old, then, this car likes to waft down country roads instead of being hustled.

What's the 2014 Citroen DS5 2.0 Blue HDi DStyle like inside?

Depending on your perspective, the DS5's cabin is either a designer's tour de force or an ergonomic nightmare. The choice of materials and quality of plastics remains generally high, with plenty of chrome flourishes, even in DStyle spec.

However, fascia design has moved on since the DS5 made its debut back in 2011, and the car industry has made great strides in simplifying and de-cluttering the dashboard. The DS5 represents a thumbed nose at this trend; it practically celebrates the humble switch, with a plethora of inconsistently shaped buttons scattered in front of the driver's eye (and above it; there are aircraft-style controls mounted in the roof). Citroen's infotainment system is beginning to show its age too; it struggles to redraw the screen sometimes, and the navigation system is slow to pick up satellite signals in built-up areas.

Should I buy one?

It's still impossible to recommend a DS5 as a private purchase. Too many of its rivals offer an even more premium cabin and customer experience, plus greater efficiency and equally appealing PCP deals. And that's before you take residual values into account.

As a company car choice, however, this edition of the DS5 does make the most sense of any edition we've tried so far. True, it's not quite as frugal as the Hybrid4 version but CO2 emissions of just 105g/km mean that the 2.0 DStyle sits in the same company car tax band. It also has a much lower list price, reducing Benefit in Kind, and it offers a more comfortable drive. It still lags behind premium rivals on overall refinement and ride quality, though, and that avant-garde cabin won't be to everyone's taste.

We have to conclude, then, that this is now the best Citroen DS5 - but that it still isn't quite good enough.

What Car? says…

Rivals

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

Volkswagen Golf SV

Citroen DS5 2.0 BlueHDI 120 DStyle

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

Price from £25,890

Power 118bhp

Torque 221lb ft

0-62mph 11.7 seconds

Top speed 119mph

Fuel economy 70.6mpg

CO2 105g/km