The subject of this week’s road test review is the Citroen DS5. Actually, that’s not quite true because Citroen has decided to follow the direction taken by a number of other brands by creating a luxury sub-brand and calling it DS.
In doing so Citroen has resurrected one of most recognisable of automotive names; the Citroen DS19, launched in 1955, was one of the most charismatic and influential cars of its era with its distinctive styling and revolutionary hydro-pneumatic suspension system.
Although the name may be familiar the DS badge bears no relationship to the iconic Citroen inter-linked gears chevron. We came across several observers who were puzzled by the badge, indeed one asked us if it was a new Chinese brand. Not so, the DS is very French with all the passion and frustration that we expect from the Gauls.
We love the looks of the DS 5. The exterior styling has a blocky, semi-SUV look that fits well with current fashion, while the frontal styling draws inspiration from the original DS. The sculpted, vertical grille has the new DS logo at the front and centre.
The chrome grille surround and the large chrome stripe running from the top of the grille to the front of the side windows is another retro touch, taking us back to a time when chromed brightwork was everywhere.
Headlamps and fog lamps are both LED while the car rolls on 18-inch alloy wheels.
As stylish as the DS 5 is on the outside it’s even more so when you step inside. It’s beautifully sculpted and elegant, yet modern and innovative.
The driver and front passenger are isolated from each other in their own separate cockpits. They even have their own individually controlled fixed glass roof – what a great idea – with a third one for the rear seat passengers.
The bulky centre console – or rather the lower central console, there’s effectively another one on the roof – has the window controls and door locks. The central roof console includes switches for the three sunroof blinds and, oddly enough, one for the retractable head-up display, as well as sunglass holders on either side.
Reachable storage spaces are limited with the window controls in the centre console and the gear lever leaving minimal space to store anything larger than the smart-key in the one small alcove. On the positive side there is a phone-sized space tucked in at the bottom of the dashboard and the centre storage box is both long and deep.
The only drink holders are at the front of the door pockets meaning that you have to stretch well forward to use them. Not only is this inconvenient but also a safety hazard and we opted to do without drinks after day one of our week-long test drive.
A tall, rectangular analog clock at the top of the dashboard adds another touch of class.
Rear passenger space will prove a little cramped for adults where adequate legroom will require negotiations with front occupants and headroom will cause a problem for anyone approaching 1.8 metres.
The boot is large (465 litres to the top of the rear seats) and functionally shaped although the high loading lip could prove awkward.
To coincide with the 60th anniversary of the launch of the Citroen DS19 a limited edition version of the DS 5 was released, 30 of them came to Australia. Some remain in stock with dealers, but you might have to move quickly.
Over the standard DS 5, the Anniversary edition adds over $7700 worth of specification for just $3000 more, at a recommend price of $59,990, and includes a truly standout DS roof sticker featuring the DS logo, 19-inch Cairns alloy wheels in a gold colour and Premium paint.
The only engine offered with the DS 5 is an upgraded version of the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel used in the previous Citroen DS5. Power has been increased from 120 to 133 kW. Torque is significantly higher, going from 340 to 400 Nm with the peak unchanged at 2000 rpm.
Despite this improved performance listed fuel consumption drops significantly, from 6.1 to 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres.
Other engines, both diesel and petrol, are produced but at this stage there are no plans for them to be added to the Australian range.
Infotainment features are controlled through a 7.0-inch touchscreen which replaces 12 dashboard buttons from the previous Citroen DS5. A victory for form over function if ever there was one, because a number of functions that are typically controlled by an easy to reach button or knob now need a series of taps on the touchscreen with the consequent distraction from the road ahead.
DS 5 comes with eMyWay satellite navigation; DAB digital radio; Bluetooth phone and media streaming; and MirrorLink, a smartphone connectivity feature that displays various apps onto the touchscreen.
Safety features include ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist; six airbags; reversing camera; front and rear parking sensors; blind spot monitoring; hill start assist; head-up display; two IsoFix child seat restraint mounting points; and tyre pressure monitoring.
Despite its relatively tall profile we found ourselves with the driver’s seat at its lowest setting, not our preferred position but it will suit others. Likewise, the square-bottomed steering wheel is larger than we’d like.
The steering through that big wheel is a little weighty which is fine on the motorway but a bit cumbersome in tight parking areas and doesn’t provide a great deal of feedback when cornering.
Visibility is fine from the front and side but is restricted to the rear because of the roof spoiler which cuts across the rear screen.
In contrast to its Citroen DS19 namesake with its soft hydro-pneumatic suspension the ride of the DS 5 tends towards the firm side. Nowhere near as harsh as the outgoing Citroen DS5 but just enough to appeal to the driving enthusiast while still comfortable enough for the executive cruiser.
The DS 5 was in its element during the motorway sections of our test and cruised in comfort.
At 6.5 litres per 100 km our fuel consumption in real-life conditions couldn’t match the 4.5 L/100km benchmark but was still impressive for a reasonably large car.
If you adhere to the French expression ‘vive el difference’ then the new DS 5 should be right at the top of your prestige car shopping list. Provided you can adapt to a number of eccentricities, and don’t get thirsty en route, it has plenty going for it including great looks, an interior that just oozes French style, and a nice blend of performance and economy from its frugal diesel engine.
Another surprise, and a very pleasant one, is a six year, unlimited km warranty including six years of roadside assistance.
AT A GLANCE
DS 5 DSport 2.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door hatch: $56,990 (automatic)
DS 5 DSport 60th Anniversary 2.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door hatch: $59,990 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Citroen / DS dealer for driveaway prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (DS 5 DSport 2.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door hatch)
Capacity: 1.997 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 133 kW @ 3750 rpm
Maximum Torque: 400 Nm @ 2000 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 4.5 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 116 g/km
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4530 mm
Wheelbase: 2727 mm
Width: 1871 mm
Height: 1539 mm
Turning Circle: 11.2 metres
Kerb Mass: 1540 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Six years / unlimited km