What is it?
Citroen is taking on the dominant German saloons once again with a large range-topper to the successful DS line. And, in keeping with the brand’s idiosyncratic history, the DS5 is unmistakeable: it’s akin to the sort of spaceship-silhouetted capsule we dreamed of riding in back in the 1980s.
At its core, it’s a high-riding hatch, but with broad shoulders and tapers at the back to help it look far more road-hugging than most crossovers and MPVs. It also has no end of oddball styling details. Witness the chromed scythe running from the headlamps clear across the front wing, and the super-shallow rear window. There’s nothing else like it in this sector.
The engines are excellent. The most urgent is the 1.6-litre turbo, the BMW-PSA unit also seen in the Mini Cooper S that puts out a punchy (if frenetic-sounding) 200bhp. Diesels are expectedly fine too and the diesel hybrid is clever, with a large range of electric-only running in town and 200bhp for relaxed higher-speed running.
The vague steering fails to impress, and it lacks the depth of engineering of German rivals. Unfortunately, the DS5’s luxury air is further dented by a firm ride and excessive road noise, particularly in pricier versions with larger wheels. The stiff and jiggly setup is certainly not in keeping with Citroen heritage: here, the softer setup of plainer models is preferable.
On the inside
The interior is a lovely place to be. Switches, clocks, furniture, all are part of a dramatic visual feast. It’s extremely daring yet is done with real conviction and, praise be, in-built quality. Citroen really does offer a tactile, near-Germanic feel, which is something few French cars of yore have been able to claim. Because it is tall, the DS5 is able to offer Mondeo-like space inside, despite being around 25cm shorter.
The 468-litre boot is impressive too, although this does drop down to 325 litres in the Hybrid4 version, which is little better than a supermini. Blame the hybrid batteries for that.
Big French cars depreciate, right? Well, that’s something Citroen will be hoping to turn around with the DS5. It has the positive brand image of the DS line for starters, while prices starting from £22,700 mean it is surprisingly competitive.
Modern Citroens are much more reliable than before and the DS-specific dealers are upmarket. Factor in great economy from the diesels and the eco benefits of that Hybrid4 version (recently improved even further, with the base DSign now emitting just 91g/km CO2) and even the DS5’s ownership proposition makes a case. Who’d have thought?