OK, this is the only time we’ll call the updated DS 5 a Citroen. Now updated and oozing French style, this luxurious mid-size hatchback is the entrée to a new sub-brand called DS.
It’s 60 years since the iconic first Citroen DS model debuted at the Paris Motorshow and the DS 5 is the first of six DS vehicles heading for international markets. The DS 5 will be joined by the DS 3, DS 3 Cabriolet, DS 4, DS 52S and DS 6 (the last two exclusive to China, the world’s largest new car market).
Citroen says not to expect a raft of all-new DS models until 2018 – after all this is a brand being launched globally. And while the ‘DS Salons’ may be located in or near Citroen dealerships in Australia, the intention is for it to be a stand-alone sub-brand with the tag-line The Spirit Of Avant Garde.
DS 5 Overview
Let’s hand it to Yves Bonnefont, CEO of DS: “The new DS 5 is more than just a new car. It is the car introducing our brand identity. Sixty years on from the original DS, the new DS 5 carries all the genes of the DS. Above all it is clear statement of our ambition to revive the tradition of French premium vehicles”.
So that puts you in the mindset of how this vehicle should be considered. With an overall length of 4530mm, the DS is roughly the same size as a Ford Mondeo hatchback, but the French vehicle ramps-up the glamour and luxury.
DS has launched the DS 5 in one model grade priced at $56,990.
DS 5 Engine
A major change for the latest DS 5 is the new BlueHDi 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine. Replacing the previous generation engine of identical capacity (HDi160), this new engine complies with the tough Euro6 emissions regulations and scores a variable geometry turbocharger with higher boost pressure and balance shafts to aid refinement.
Maximum power is 133kW at 3750rpm and peak torque of 400Nm is delivered at 2000rpm.
Drive is to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.
Combined-cycle fuel consumption is considerably lower at 4.5l/100kms (an improvement of 1.6l/100kms).
DS 5 Exterior & Styling
With its high waistline and four-window profile the DS really does present a unique on-road presence which is both elegant and purposeful. The chrome ‘sabre’ which runs from the headlights to the front windows is a defining feature and joins with the kicked-up C-pillars for an overall dynamic which earns our vote in the looks department.
Headlining the update is a revised front-end featuring a new vertical grille with the hallmark DS wings and new-design LED/Xenon headlights (intended to resemble precious stones in their setting) delivering the DS light signature (like the DS 3 and DS 3 cabriolet).
Rear view is all about accentuating width and highlighted by the signature six light guides.
Wheels are 18-inch ‘Twist’ black alloys or there are some handsome 19-inchers as an option.
And a new body colour arrives for this update – a subtle ‘Encre Blue’.
DS 5 The Interior
For cutting-edge interior looks, contemporary cars don’t come any better than the DS 5. We really liked layout of the cockpit with a centre section of the roof between driver and front-seat passenger (including dual sunglass holders) straight from aerospace designs.
And there is only one word for the dashboard and instrumentation – ‘elegant’. It’s functional for sure with a head-up display, excellent gauges and a centre touchscreen but just one glance at the stylish analogue clock alerts you to the French design origins.
Plenty of technology too including satellite navigation, blind spot and lane departure warning, auto high-beam, swivel and static cornering lights, reversing camera and lots more. Although we did find some of the switches a bit ‘clunky’.
DS 5 comes with a choice of three types of leather including full grain nappa and semi-aniline. If current form is continued, many buyers will opt for the two-tone ‘watch strap leather which looks brilliant.
Electric seat adjustment and rake/reach adjustment for the stylish steering wheel provided a great driving position. Those in the rear had plenty of leg-room and your average-sized Car Showroom correspondent had plenty of head-room but taller people might find it a little squeezy.
DS 5 On The Road
The drive route for the DS 5 media launch headed from Melbourne out to Mount Macedon and beyond before returning to Tullamarine Airport. A good mixture of roads including some excellent twisty stuff in the hills.
Immediately apparent, even exiting the city, was the extra grunt from the BlueHDi 2.0-litre turbo-diesel (13kW/60Nm more than the previous model and one second faster zero to 100km/h). But even when pushed it maintained impressive levels of refinement.
In developing this generation DS over the outgoing model, engineers focused on comfort. Data from back-to-to back testing shows the latest DS matching the old one in the parameters of handling, steering and road noise but measurably ahead for vibration and both low and high frequency comfort.
DS says this stems mostly from linear valve technology. So the compression stroke is longer and the damping curve is more linear with reduced sudden changes in damping force.
Over the twisty stuff the DS was predictable and precise but not overly stiff like some of the German rivals. But that didn’t come with noticeable body roll – impressively in fact the DS cornered relatively flat.
Grip levels were good and steering feedback was excellent.
Our only points deduction came for the six-speed automatic – when we cracked the whip in full auto mode the kickdown to a lower gear was sometimes a smidge slow.
DS 5 Issues
Style has its price and while there is excellent leg-room in the rear, tall folk may find things a bit squeezy around the old bonce. We wouldn’t mind a bit more cargo capacity too.
DS 5 Verdict
We think the DS 5 is a terrific car. Even the harshest critics would struggle to mount a compelling negative argument about the look inside and out – it’s cutting-edge without ostracizing and stands-out from the crowd.
On the road the extra grunt from the 133kW 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is handy and the ride/handling is precise and refined.
But perhaps the most defining point about this elegant French mid-size hatchback is its value. The DS 5 is loaded with goodies, exudes glamour and feels like a car retailing for at least $10,000 more.
DS 5 The Competition
From Audi, the gorgeous A5 Sportback is a similar style of vehicle but it’s a lot more coin with the front-drive 1.8TFSI petrol model priced at $67,810 and the front-drive 2.0TDI turbo-diesel listed at $69,310. The A5 Sportback is the usual slick offering you expect from Audi – brilliant to drive but more firm/sporty than the DS 5.
Volkswagen’s Passat-based CC while not a hatchback might be on your shopping list. The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel carries an identical sticker to the DS 5 at $56,990. The CC drives well – just like the rest of the Passat range(although like the Audi it’s firmer/sportier in the ride than the DS 5). But you’ll need to carefully check what’s standard and what’s optional as the DS 5 is generously equipped.
And we’ll throw-in the Holden Insignia although it too is a sedan rather than a hatchback. The German Holden is priced at $51,990 and is beautifully made and feature-packed.