DS Automobiles are now recognised as separate from their Citroën brethren. Like Infiniti is to Nissan, and Lexus is to Toyota, DS is now the luxury arm of operations for the French manufacturer. And the biggest, most luxurious model of them all is the DS5. The car of choice for the French President François Hollande, it is somewhat reminiscent of the big Citroën’s of old. But what is it like to live with? Does it feel special, and has the separation worked? Well I grabbed a DS5 Elegance for a week to find out.
Handling/Performance – 6/10
The engine in my test car was the basic, 1.6-litre diesel engine. It has 120PS and 300Nm of torque, which is sent to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox. Performance is relatively uninspiring, with 0-62mph taking 12.7 seconds and a top speed of 119mph. Once you get moving though the DS 5 picked up well enough. It will never pin you back in your seat, but it never really felt lethargic. What did feel wrong was the manual gearbox. This car feels much more suited to a comforting, effortless drive, and an automatic gearbox would certainly help this. Other engine options include a BlueHDi 180 diesel, or a THP 210 petrol (on the Prestige spec) and either of these would be a more luxurious choice.
The handling of the DS5 is definitely set to ‘comfort’. And that’s no bad thing; it suits the car. With 17-inch alloys there’s plenty of rubber to cushion the occupants from the road. The steering is relatively easy, albeit a little bit numb, and the suspension is soft and comfortable if not a little bit ‘wallowy’. The aforementioned Nappa leather seats were also as comfortable as they were visually appealing. Set off on a hundred-mile journey and you will arrive as refreshed as when you left. It eats up the miles, and with plenty of soundproofing the cabin is a quiet environment.
Economy – 9/10
The 1.6-litre diesel is a rather efficient engine, offering 70.6mpg on a combined cycle, which is remarkable for a big executive car like this. With start stop technology and the lovely 6-speed gearbox CO2 emissions are a mere 104g/km. VED band B means that road tax is free in the first year, and £20 thereafter. The DS5 is therefore a rather cheap car to run, for both private and company car users. Don’t be put off the larger engines either; the BlueHDi 180 automatic emits just 114g/km CO2 (£30 road tax) and offers 64.2mpg on a combined cycle. Not too bad at all.
Practicality – 9/10
As you would guess from the sizeable exterior, there is plenty of space inside. Rear-seat passengers will find the DS5 particularly roomy, whereas the overhead controls, large steering wheel and stuck-out centre console make the front feel somewhat more enclosed. The boot is plenty big enough, although some room is taken up by the subwoofer for the Denon HiFi (£550). The DS 5 is full of tech to make life easier, such as reversing camera, cruise control with speed limiter, dual-zone climate control and electronic handbrake with hill-hold function. I really like the extra glass in the A-pillar, it gives great visibility at junctions. Optional extras include the Electric Comfort Pack (£500) which adds memory front seats, heated front seats and a lumbar massage function for the driver. The DS LED Vision Pack (£1,200) gives directional Xenon headlights, and the Blind Spot Monitoring System (£300) is very useful and something I’d certainly recommend.
Fun – 7/10
So what about the fun factor? Well the DS 5 is sleek and stylish, and to me says that the owner has good taste. The cabin is very funky with its aircraft styling, and the driver’s seat is a nice place to sit. Add in the lumbar massage and you’ve got a great cruiser. But in terms of fun, the 1.6-litre engine is lacking. There’s no gusto, and the manual gearbox feels wrong for a car like this. I certainly think a more powerful engine with a smooth automatic would give a more satisfying drive. There’s also a sense that the rear-seat passengers feel like VIP’s, and that can’t be appreciated from the driver’s seat.
So that’s my week with the DS5. The Elegance model with a 1.6-litre diesel manual starts at £26,350, and you do get a lot for your money. It’s quite easy to get over £30k once you factor in a couple of options, but even at this level the DS 5 holds its own. From the rep blasting up and down the motorway every day, to the large family car, the DS5 is versatile and dynamic. I’d certainly implore you to check one out. Pop into a dealer or log on to the DS website (or the Citroën website if you want to configure one!). The DS 5 Elegance; from the aircraft styling to the luxurious comfort, it’s full of surprises.
Total Score – 40/50