Citroën has spent a lifetime building a reputation as a maker of cars that offer outstanding ride comfort, cushioning drivers from the roughest of roads. The C4, C5 and C6, to name just three, all conform to this ideal.
The DS range is different. Put aside all prejudices because Citroën’s renegade brand promises thrills and excitement wrapped up in a premium package.
The family-sized DS5 is the third car in the line-up. The designers say it makes “luxury and haute couture accessible”; they claim to have travelled the world searching for the very best materials – the leather from Bavarian bulls, the metalwork honed in Wales. Does the DS5 live up to those claims?
It looks stunning. Like the DS3 and DS4, the car stands out among its contemporaries as a uniquely-styled, dynamic magnum opus. The chrome sabres, which sweep from the headlamps along the sides of the bonnet to the front windows, are questionable, but every other detail is spot on, from the pronounced air intakes at the front to the chrome-finished twin exhausts at the rear.
It’s a similar story inside, with neat design flashes on the tactile switches complemented by soft-touch materials throughout.
To improve the car’s driving pedigree, Citroën has sacrificed some of the comfort for a sharper handling experience. It almost pulls it off. The car is agile and fun and the semi-auto gearbox is fluid, but the steering is heavy and the suspension can be unforgiving.
But that’s the rub; if supreme comfort is the priority, choose the C5.
The DS5 is available from launch next February with a choice of diesel, petrol and the Hybrid4 diesel-electric engine. Diesel will account for 85% of sales, with the 2.0-litre 163bhp HDI manual – CO2 emissions 129g/km, XXmpg – in the middle of the three trim levels dominating. Expect to pay around £26,000.
Fleets looking for a more frugal offer could consider the 1.6-litre e-HDI 110bhp with 114g/km and 65.7mpg. Pricing starts at just under £23,000.
The Hybrid4, based on the same engine but offering CO2 emissions from just 99g/km combined with maximum power output of 200bhp, will chip in 10%. The appeal of low emissions and just 13% BIK is tempered by the price, however, which will be in the low £30,000s.
Citroën has set a cautious sales target of 3,000 to 4,000 with 70% going to user-chooser fleets. However, it points to the example set by the DS3. Originally expected to sell around 6,000 units a year, it is on track to top 12,000 this year. The implication is clear: the DS5 could follow suit.
Most sales will be conquests with drivers of Audi A4s, BMW 3 Series, top spec Ford Mondeos and Volkswagen Passats in the headlights.
With Citroën planning at least two more DS models, it will have a credible range of premium competitors, complementing its more mainstream models. User-choosers, take note.