- Exquisite interior touches offer a genuinely regal atmosphere
- Smooth and elegant ride quality
- Intuitive and sophisticated material choices throughout
- May struggle to sway ‘badge-snobs’ who solely buy German-built
- Auto-gearbox confused easily while negotiating complex roads at speed.
- Legroom in the rear isn’t extensive, but ‘nor is it cramped
The DS 5 is the flagship model which introduces a new brand identity to the DS range. No longer attached (by name) to the Citroen range, the DS 5 is the first attempt at reviving the tradition of French premium vehicles with countless subtle nods toward the original DS of 1955. After all, this is the vehicle of choice for the French President, Francois Hollande, so there is a certain prowess to which the DS 5 simply must deliver.
On The Road
The DS 5 features award winning engines from the PSA group which offer petrol, diesel and hybrid variants from 120 horsepower up to 200 horsepower. We tested the ‘BlueHDi 150’ Diesel most thoroughly, which we expect to be the most popular model on the UK market. This engine offers the best compromise between price, power and efficiency. Featuring a high pressure turbocharger, at no point does the car feel slow, in fact it can pull out of low gears with ease and compared to the 180 model it barely feels any less powerful whatsoever. The manual was our preferred transmission but the Automatic gearbox was smooth and true when navigating at normal, reasonable speed, only it became confused when really ‘pressing on’ under more demanding driving.
The old DS5 from Citroen (notice the lack of a space between ‘DS’ and ‘5’) was never praised for its ride comfort. However a quick tweak of the dampers and an adjusted ride height has altered this rather brilliantly. The DS(space)5 now drives more meticulously, the vehicle floats along the road instead of being bounced around enabling the car to corner more confidently and this is reflected with positive feedback to the driver through the lush leather steering wheel. Bumps and terrain changes are soaked up by the intricate ‘Preloaded Linear Valve’ technology limiting sudden changes in damping and allowing a more relaxed driving sensation. This is probably the most significant development from the model the DS 5 replaces.
The DS 5 is designed to be a businessman's car which is ‘superior but not snobby’ so you’d expect the DS 5 to be able to ship one senior executive around Paris with 3 of his/her colleagues in comfort. No problem at all for the DS 5. Cabin noise is almost non existent at inner-city speeds and minimal on motorways. Even while driving through the unforgiving war-zone that is the Parisian central business district, the fantastic insulation in the car allows the driver to remain calm and composed while madness ensues with mopeds, cyclists, emergency services and pedestrians going wherever they damn-well want. There are few shortcomings on refinement, this is a particularly refined vehicle. It is worth mentioning however that the diesel engines are just a little bit ‘not-german’. Although the PSA diesel engines excel in performance, economy and responsiveness they still do not quite provide the same level of reassurance as the German diesels, this mainly felt through the accelerator pedal which just isn’t 100% convincing, yet.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
The craftsmanship, thought and flair that DS Automobiles have put into producing the interior of the DS 5 is commendable to say the least. The attention to detail throughout the car is magnificent with small touches, such as the 3 separate sunroof’s, roof-mounted cockpit-controls and the selection of 3 premium leather options, all coming together to provide a luxurious, well-rounded package. From the complex upholstery of the seats to the satisfying motion of the Heads Up Display, it is obvious that DS didn’t cut any corners when designing the interior. This is really where the DS earns it’s stripes as a premium executive vehicle which, DS say, was designed with aerospace styling as a fundamental value.
Technology inside the DS 5 is also worth noting. The ‘jewelled’ headlights, which are a major upgrade from the Citroen DS5, are now LED’s with Xenon main-beams and this will be evident on future DS models. Connectivity alternatives are now available such as MirrorLink for smartphones which seamlessly mirrors your phone to the 7 inch touch screen infotainment system. (Apple CarPlay will be available by the end of 2015.) The touchscreen itself is well positioned, easy to navigate and very responsive.
Space & Practicality
The front seats in the DS 5 are a lovely place to be thanks to the cavernous footwell and up-market materials which surround the driver and front passenger without suffocating them with the features. Button layout is reduced, to provide a more minimalist style, but essential features aren’t hidden beneath sub-menus and every functionality is still easy to locate and operate.
While the rear seats are supremely comfortable the leg room isn’t quite as comprehensive as that of the BMW 3 series or Mercedes CLA shooting brake. You won’t feel cramped though due to the third, and largest, sunroof which really emphasises the aero-space theme and ‘spirit of Avant-Garde’.
Boot space is generous with 465 litres (significantly reduced on hybrid models) and cabin storage is excellent, with countless cubbies, stowage and cup holders, ideal for family use.
Across the engine models of the DS 5 this model claims to be 18% more efficient than the model it replaces. The petrol 165 THP engine will return a modest 47.9 mpg on a combined cycle, while the 120, 150 and 180 diesels will achieve 70.6mpg, 68.9 and 64.2 respectively. The most efficient model, however, is the 4x4 hybrid model which claims 88.3 mpg on the urban cycle, 65.7 mpg on the extra urban cycle and 72 on a combined cycle, all while only emitting a tax-free 103g of co2/km.
Quality & Reliability
The reliability of the DS 5 is largely unknown. This is the first attempt from DS Automobiles to make a genuinely premium vehicle for the future but it is still yet to stand the test of time. The soft touch material selections inside feel premium and durable however the Citroen brand (which the DS 5 separates itself from) does have a questionable reliability record over the years mainly with intermittent software problems. This is no longer a Citroen, as we’ve mentioned, so you’ll be forgiven for offering the benefit of the doubt.
Safety & Security
While reliability may previously have been a slightly sore topic for Citroen, safety has always been a proud selling point. The DS 5 has continued this success and scores a solid 5 stars in the Euro NCAP test including a score of 97% in the safety assist category and 89% on adult-occupant safety. The DS 5 has everything you’d expect in terms of modern safety technology inside premium vehicles, including blind spot assist, hill-start assistance and and a full set of airbags.