New Citroen DS5 first drive

Citroen DS5





DS has long been the branding name given to certain ‘designer’ Citroen models, most recently the DS3, DS3 Cabrio, DS4 and DS5, all versions of mainstream Citroen models.


From June this year DS became a stand-alone brand although still marketed and sold in the UK by Citroen, itself part of the PSA Peugeot-Citroen alliance.

Since the first modern-age DS model – the DS3 stylish supermini, was launched in March 2010 – the brand has sold globally 468,000 DS units, 16% of them in China.

In the first half of this year in Europe just 50,000 DS cars were registered, a fall of 20% over the same period last year. The reduction in sales say DS is due to the recession hit premium sector of the primary French market for the DS brand. Given the situation DS is looking to China to grow its sales and to recover in Europe by adopting a strategy of maintaining the value of its cars by eliminating unprofitable fleet sales with no distress selling. In the UK business user-chooser and retail customers is the target audience.

Currently it’s a tough time for both Citroen and Peugeot brands in the UK despite both ranges having launched important new models this year. New car sales for the first seven months of this year show Citroen’s sales growth of just 1.55% and Peugeot with an increase of just 1% in a market up by 10.1%. The Citroen and DS brands are not yet listed separately in the SMMT official UK new cars sales figures but in the first seven months of this year 15,237 DS units were sold, over 800 of them being the current top of the DS range – the DS5 five door executive hatchback. Designer DS models now account for 31% of Citroen’s UK sales.

Citroen DS5The DS5 executive five door hatchback was first introduced to the UK in 2012. Recent specification changes to the range include a softer riding suspension system, a new six-speed automatic transmission and new Euro 6 BlueHDi 180 and 120PS engines. More BlueHDi diesel engines will; be introduced shortly to meet the 1 January 2015 deadline when most volume sales petrol and diesel engines on sale in Europe must be Euro 6 compliant.

Currently the engine line offers the 1.6 turbocharged petrol 200 unit, the 1.6 eHDI 115, 1.6 BlueHDi 120, 2.0 HDi 160, 2.0 BlueHDi 180 and the 2.0 Hybrid4 diesel/electric 200 Airdream with 2/4WD. CO2 emission levels range from 85 to 158g/km with company car Benefit-in-Kind tax liabilities ranging from 11% for the hybrid to 27% for the HDi 160 automatic. Depending on the engine chosen specification and equipment levels are DSign, DStyle and DSport. Prices range from £23,260 to £33,660. To soften the bill DS is currently offering three-years free serving on all DS5 models.

I’ve just had a pleasurable driving spell in the DS5. I say pleasurable because I like the distinctive long, low and wide design with its four-door coupe side profile with wide haunches housing 18-inch alloy wheels firmly planting the car on the road. It looks solid with a bold front end, sweeping rear end and overall a smart aerodynamic style. Another appealing feature for some buyers is the DS5’s exclusivity value as you don’t see too many.

Inside the front twin cockpit design looks like an aircraft flight deck, even including overhead switchgear. On the DStyle and DSport versions there are three individual glass roofs, one over the three seater rear compartment and one each over the front two seating positions. Each roof section has electronically operated sunblinds. I like the wrap-around fascia design and the long and deep centre section which leads from the fascia between the front seats. The front seats offer good side support and add to the luxury and stylish ambience of the interior. In the rear there is just about enough room for three adults, two would be better and the leg and headroom was good enough except for the very tall. In the rear is a good sized 465-litre fully carpeted and lined boot with easy access through the tailgate. The one third/two thirds split folding rear seats further increase the load space

Citroen DS5Citroen DS5Citroen DS5I tested the DSport model with the 2.0-litre HDi 160hp engine and six-speed manual gearbox priced at £28,915. The good thing about this particular DS5 was the high specification, the not so good thing was this engine is only Euro 5 compliant and will at some point need to be revised using PSA’s AdBlue technology to clean up the NOx and particulate emissions to Euro 6 standards. Anybody buying a new diesel car in the near future needs to be aware of the new emissions standards that come into force from January next year. Look out for some bargains on the forecourt in the ‘64’ new plate sales month of September as Euro 5 models are ‘shifted’ ready for cleaner versions. That advice applies to all makes and brands not just to PSA Peugeot-Citroen and DS models.

First of all the spec and recent changes to the DS5. The ride quality has definitely been improved even with the large 18-inch wheels. Before it was a hard-riding car, not really what the UK’s buying public want unless they are premium brand BMW/Audi customers. In reality the DS5 competes against D-segment models such as the top-spec Vauxhall Insignia, Ford Mondeo, VW Passat and Peugeot’s similar family 508 models. The DSport specification is comprehensive including head-up display, colour sat-nav, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, electric front/rear windows and door mirrors, cruise control, on-board computer, air conditioning, DAB radio with surround sound, black leather upholstery, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats and a full range of side, front and curtain airbags. It is a really nice, stylish, comfortable and well-specced executive car and a good alternative for customers wanting something a bit different.

As for the engine? Yes it is still to be upgraded to Euro 6 emission specification but the 2.0-litre, direct injection turbodiesel gives a really strong linear power delivery with 160hp (158bhp) and 340Nm (251lb ft) of torque from 2,000rpm. The response is good for brisk acceleration taking 8.5 seconds to reach 62mph from standstill and top speed is 134mph so 70mph cruising is effortless and quiet. Officially this unit will return 57.6mpg in the Combined Cycle and my week long test drive covering all types of journeys retuned 44.7mpg. Given the choice and the budget for added driving refinement I’d opt for the £1,505 six-speed automatic transmission but that pushes up the road tax and Benefit-in-Kind tax costs significantly. As it stands with the perfectly adequate six-speed manual transmission the CO2 level is 128g/km so VED road tax is £0 cost for the First Year rate and £110 for Year Two onwards. The auto would be £180 for every year and BIK goes up to 27% from 21%. Insurance is group 24E for both versions.

MILESTONES: DS5 DSport 2.0 HDi 160 manual. Price: £28,915. Engine/transmission: Euro 5, 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder common-rail turbodiesel, 158bhp, 340Nm (251lb ft) from 2,000rpm, 6-speed manual. Performance: 134mph, 0-62m[ph 8.5 seconds, 57.6mpg Combined Cycle (44.7mpg on test), CO2 128g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £110 Year Two onwards, BIK company car tax 21%. Insurance group: 24E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000 miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,530mm, W 1,871mm, H 1,539mm, boot 465-litres. For: Distinctive styling, high spec with high quality interior, improved ride comfort and handling, strong and relatively frugal engine performance. Against: This engine is not yet Euro 6 compliant – some others in the range are, steering lacks feedback, no proven merit yet in making DS now a stand-alone brand and not continuing DS as a Citroen sub-brand.

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