DS5 Road Test

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GODDESS EFFECT


Now a stand alone brand, the DS range of cars no longer displays any association with its parent company of Citroen. Ironic in many ways since it’s the classic Citroen DS from which this new range of overtly French cars take their name, the two letters an abbreviation of the goddess Deesse. Reason being whilst Citroen’s name and famous helical gears logo continue to be seen on the manufacturer’s practical and fashionable family transport and commercial vehicles, it’s the higher performance, luxury orientated premium cars that will carry the DS name.


Carrying the name of one of Citroen’s and the automotive world’s most stylish cars from back in the sixties and seventies, it’s the range topping DS5 saloon that we’re taking a closer look at. A medium to large hatchback, in comparison to its predominantly German competition, the DS5 instantly provides a new direction in terms of another make and avant-garde styling. A hatchback, a saloon and possibly a coupe with a hint of SUV, from the distinct broad grille, large DS badging, elevated shoulder line emphasized by chrome inlaid rubbing strips, what DS refer to as their ‘sabres’ that start along either side of the bonnet and run to the A-pillars, black inserts and colour keying along with 18” Adelaide alloys and 235/45R18 Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres, the DS5 is noticeably different from the rest, the Prestige version seen here benefiting from maximum DS detailing. Across the tailgate’s window is also to be found a narrow spoiler that whilst it might add to the DS5’s overall visuals does little for rearward visibility.


Inside the cabin the styling continues although at times form over function has been allowed to take charge. Individual sunshades for the panoramic glass roof, black leather, soft touch surfaces and switchgear that echoes the outer detailing abounds, a thick leather shroud hooding the red and white on black instrumentation that sits behind an adjustable thick squared off multi-function sports steering wheel and at times a painfully slow to react touch screen infotainment and satnav screen sunk deep into the raked lower dashboard. Cocooned within their own individualised compartments, the front seat passengers are joined together with a wide centre consol, their own bank of minor controls and at times intrusive overhead consol.


As near an ideal combination of style and the French interpretation of ergonomic even down to regrettably marginalized art-deco analog clock, it’s the glaring lack of cubbies, low set and almost ineffective cup holders and the driver’s head impacting centre roof consol that detract from what should be one of the nicest interiors currently being built, DS also offering a full personalization option. Equally, the twin A-pillars do at times create a significant blindspot irrespective of their deep triangular glazing. Space wise, a maximum of five adults enjoy ample leg and shoulder room although cranial space is a tad pinched in the front. The 60:40 split rear seats verging on limousine standard with 465 litres of cargo space available. It will one surmises more than double with the rear seats folded but apart from the braked 1,500kg towing capacity, DS are reluctant to quote maximum interior capacity with the rear seats folded.


Beneath the clamshell bonnet buyers have four transverse mounted options of the 165hp petrol, the new Hybrid and three Blue HDi diesels that deliver 120hp and 150hp both mated to 6-speed manual transmissions and as tested 180hp hooked up to the automatic 6-speed EAT gearbox. Pushing out 180hp and 400Nm of torque, the 1,997cc high pressure Euro 6 diesel provides sufficient power and flexibility.


Delivering an acceptable 42.7mpg over 538 varied test miles, 47mpg on extended motorway runs. It’s safe to expect therefore around 500 miles per 60 litre refill. With the option of Sport and Snow settings and sequential changes, the driver can vary the engine’s characteristics, increase the speed of up shifts which in conjunction with the car’s Stop-Start system should increase economy if only marginally.


Topping out where permitted at 137mpg with a tolerable 0-62mph of 9.9 seconds, the DS5 is most at home as a comfortable cruiser. Run the DS up to 70mph and the car will sit effortlessly for mile after mile requiring only minor input from the driver, efficient disc all round ABS brakes progressive and even. With MacPherson struts and coils at the front, coils and independent trailing arms at the rear the ride can at times become harsh especially when traveling over less than well maintained surfaces. Equally, the latest satnav system’s inability to accept postcodes can at times render plotting a frustrating task.


Move onto narrower roads and the DS5 reminds you of its weight and size. That said the DS5 is still relatively nimble if driven correctly. The power steering is nicely weighted with an 11 meter turning circle but push hard with the transmission in automatic and the DS5 will push wide and become fractionally indecisive. But drop into sequential, hold a slightly lower gear and turn in earlier and the car becomes surprisingly malleable. But whilst the new DS5 goes a reasonable way in emulating its famous predecessor the famous floating ride is now with regret a part of history.

 

Sizable and comfortable albeit with certain shortfalls DS or more likely Citroen have seemingly built in a series of compromises which in turn allow the DS5 to fall within various market segments in an effort to increase the model and the brand’s appeal. The basic DS5 Prestige BlueHDi 180 will cost you £32,880, the silver metallic paint adding an extra £600. Equally, given the DS5’s physical dimensions the 180hp version remains the engine of choice as the most complete and capable unit.  


But it’s the multi interpretation of the body style that could confuse potential buyers. The DS4 already takes care of the brand’s SUV orientated model, the stunningly successful DS3 captivating the sports orientated buyer. So with these already flourishing models offering the buyer a far more defined choice, DS has left their flagship 5 somewhere in limbo. With a lower, more conventional ride height, a more defined three-box saloon profile and a little attention to the interior and certain fixtures the DS5 would be the equal of anything currently available.


Complete with 3-years warranty, 20,000 service intervals and the various PSA offers the DS5 and all their cars benefit from, if a large hatchback singularly different from the rest appeals, seek out your nearest dealer. Whilst some of the equivalent German models could well prove more efficient in respect of cabin detailing and overall use of space, it’s the individuality of the DS5 that is the core of its appeal.


The fact certain things are different contributes to the car’s appeal, after all the French have always taken their own direction irrespective of what other may think. The range topping Citroens and now the DS have always been an object of off-centre desire, the DS5 a car this tester wanted to feel the exact same emotive longing that the original Citroen DS created all those years ago. Illicit affairs of the heart can be a treacherous undertaking but in this case it’s the DS5 that will ultimately end this potentially turbulent liaison.           



By; Mark Stone





DS5 Prestige Blue Hdi Road Test

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