Citroen DS5 – Review
by Liam Bird
When it comes to doing things a differently in the automotive world, you can pretty much rely on Citroen. Think about it, can you think of another car manufacturer confident not only to build the Traction Avant – the World’s first front-wheel drive steel monocoque production car, but also the unapologetically quirky and uncompromisingly utilitarian 2CV? And if that wasn’t enough, they were also brave enough to hire the undeniably batty Grace Jones for their 80’s CX add campaign too. Good old Citroen – everso slightly ‘out-there’.
It looks like they’re up to their old tricks again, too. From the moment you first clap eyes on the DS5, the third car in their DS line-up, you’re never quite sure if it’s a saloon, an estate, or an MPV. From some angles the heavily sculpted bodywork looks low, squat and sleek, and yet from others it appears both wide and almost unfeasibly long. Yet somehow the DS5 still manages to be a handsome car too. Or is that just my opinion? My regular passenger wasn’t so sure. What can’t be argued though, is that the Citroen’s latest is a welcome break from the saloon car norm.
“Sturdy and pleasing to touch”
Inside there’s a similar mix of the familiar and not-so recognisable. With its three-part sunroof (each section has its own blind too), squared-off dials, and roof mounted switches the DS5’s cabin feels strangely aeronautical. Still, it’s easy to see who Citroen are aiming it at; features such as solid metal door handles and a centre console that dominates the front of the cabin whilst containing not only a multitude of trapezoid-shaped buttons, but also some unashamedly I-drive inspired controls, remind you not only of the fayre found in the likes of Audi and BMW, but also of Porsche’s Panamera too.
Claiming that the quality of materials used however, as sturdy and pleasing to the touch as they first appear, is sadly a stretch of the imagination too far. The silver carbon-fibre effect trim fitted to our mid-range DSign test-car, although attractive, felt a tad too “hard-touch” for my tastes. On the upside, the leather trimmed heated seats felt suitably thick and soft for a car costing skywards of £24,000, they look good too.
There’s more than enough standard kit to take your mind off what someone else might consider attractive interior décor though. The DS5 packs an in-built sat-nav, aforementioned media hub controls for radio, CD and external MP3 devices, keyless entry and start, Bluetooth and, if your budget allows, a 10-speaker Hi-Fi system from sonic wizards Denon. Other optional features include Citroen’s Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), which uses a digital camera to detect and monitor lines on the road in-order to pick up involuntary weaving or lane departure and warn the driver accordingly. There’s a reversing camera too. Tick the box for that one, as the DS’s rearward visibility isn’t exactly what you’d call class leading.
“Should be applauded”
Neither regrettably is its ride quality. Citroen’s designers have fallen foul to fashion and fitted the DS5 with 19inch alloys carrying little more than a smear of rubber; they do little to iron out road surface imperfections. Those of you who still attribute large French cars with magic-carpet-like rides will be brought down to earth with infinitely more than just one bump. It’s a shame, as the two litre 160bhp diesel engine (probably the pick of the DS5’s bunch) provides punchy performance and, when coupled to the 6 speed automatic gearbox, the promise of both economy and relaxed cruising. While we’re on the subject of driving dynamics, a little more feedback through the DS5’s flat-bottomed steering wheel would be a welcome addition too.
But ‘spirited’ driving is probably not the DS5’s raison d’être. It’s been built to provide those seeking a compact luxury executive car something altogether different – it does so, and then some! For that the DS5, and once again Citroen, should be applauded. Vive la différence, as they say France.
Citroen DS5 DSign HDi 160 Auto
Engine: 1997, 4Cyl, Turbo-diesel
Power: 160 BHP @ 3750rpm
Torque: 251lbft @ 2000rpm
Transmission: 6 speed auto Front Wheel Drive
Performance: 0-62mph 9.8 sec
Max Speed: 132 mph
MPG: 47.9 Combined