Citroen DS5 review
* Biggest Citroen DS car driven * Estimated prices from 23,000 to 33,000 * On sale late December...
Despite its name, the DS5 is not actually based on the Citroen C5; instead it uses the same underpinnings as the Peugeot 3008 and as such, it can offer the 3008's innovative Hybrid4 set-up, which mixes a front-wheel-drive diesel powertrain with an electric motor at the back axle.
The biggest-selling variants are likely to be those powered by conventional set-ups, though. There will be two diesels: a 112bhp 1.6-litre version that's available only with Citroen's clunky automated manual gearbox, and a 163bhp 2.0-litre unit that can be specced with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. It's the auto option that we tested.
The petrol options are likely to be niche offerings in the UK; there's a choice of 1.6-litre turbocharged units, with 156bhp or 200bhp.
Prices will start at 23,000 and go up to 33,000 for the Hybrid4 which will come in top spec only.
What's it like to drive? A game of two halves, really. The engine feels untroubled by lugging a tonne and a half of car around; it pulls strongly from around 1200rpm and although its work is done by 3500rpm, it's smooth all the way inbetween.
It's refined, too; the note is sufficiently smooth and distant at cruising speeds for it to become distinctly un-diesel-like.
The steering isn't very communicative, often leaving you in the dark about what the front wheels are doing, but it is nicely weighted, consistent and accurate.
Under normal workloads, the six-speed auto provides clean, smooth shifts, but when you want to push on it becomes too easily confused and reluctant to either hold a gear or shift down under heavy braking.
This relaxed character is at odds with the chassis set-up on larger wheels, though. Our test car had 18-inch rims and while the DS5 felt like it had more than enough grip and sophisticated body control, the trade-off is a pretty harsh ride.
The car is too eager to transmit pothole crashes and bumps through to the cabin and it can skip across the road on pock-marked surfaces.
Some lowly French models will get 16-inch wheels, but the entry-level UK-spec car is likely to be on 17-inchers. We'd strongly recommend you evaluate the car on those before committing to 18s.
What's it like inside? The DS5's cabin is designed with an aeronautical theme, including a 'cockpit' roof that includes panoramic glass (with three separate blinds), and switches mounted along a central tunnel. It all delivers dramatic effect, but it certainly works.
The choice of materials doesn't let the DS5 down, either; there are soft-touch materials and chunky, solid-feeling switchgear throughout. Citroen's head-up display works well, and while there's a slightly confusing scattering of switches on the huge centre console, the fascia's driver-focused layout means they're all within reach.
There's plenty of room in the back for two people, and just about enough space for three, although headroom could be an issue for those over six feet.
Should I buy one? The DS5 has many of the ingredients that make a great Citroen and is a worthy, quirky alternative to many a small executive car. It has off-the-wall styling, a terrific cabin, excellent finish and a refined engine.
However, the crashy ride seems at odds with the rest of the car's character, so it'll need to impress on smaller wheels and in the UK before we can give it the fourth star it so nearly deserves.