The Citroën DS3 and DS4 may have failed to hit the design sweet spot but the third car in the series – the DS5 – is refreshingly resolved. The DS3 won plaudits from drivers but its styling seemed like flimsy icing on a poorly conceived cake with lower quality interior fit and finish. The DS4 was little better with fussy detailing placed awkwardly on vague proportions. In comparison the DS5 feels the most complete DS yet, with an exterior that looks confident and sits comfortably on the road, a genuinely high quality interior full of surprise and delight features and a groundbreaking diesel/electric hybrid powertrain.
That hybrid option won’t be cheap – expect prices up to £33,000 for the top trim DSport (the other are DSign and Style) – but for that money customers get a 99g/km CO2 rating for low or no tax (depending on country) and a cutting edge technology that can run in full electric zero-emission ZEV mode, Sport, 4WD – with electrically-driven rear wheels and diesel-powered front wheels – or as a full automatic according to driver choice dictated by a knob by the gear selector. There’s a 200bhp petrol unit too – already acclaimed in the Peugeot RCZ and co-developed with BMW – but the vast majority of buyers are predicted to go for the several decent diesel-only options which still offer great economy and emissions from £23,000.
Inspired by the 2005 C-Sport Lounge concept, the DS5 achieves what its siblings can’t – or indeed most Citroëns – standout looks. With its striking ‘sabre‘ detail – running from the front headlamp and along the bonnet edge to halfway up the ‘second’ A-pillar, it cannot be mistaken for anything else on the road. Available in shiny or dark chrome, this bold element somehow manages to sit easily with other busy design details including a two-tier belt line and a complicated feature line below, to make a coherent whole without feeling overdone. Sitting on the road the stance is low and planted and following numerous versions in many colour ways during our test, all looked equally dynamic and poised.
Better still is the DS5’s interior. Sitting behind the steering wheel the low cockpit style layout feels genuinely sporty and the quality of fit and detail is top class. Knurled air-conditioning knobs and chunky metal accented window switches sit alongside ‘thumb-print’ patterned metal door handles and an original watch bracelet-style seat pad design clad in high-end leather. This is not regular Citroën colour and trim.
Numerous materials used have green credentials too. The bonnet is made of aluminium to save weight – in fact the DS5 weighs less than the comparable C5 – although the DS is in fact based on the C4 platform. The polycarbonate rear three-quarter window complete with neatly built-in aero lip contributes further to this weight loss (by substituting for heavier glass) while recycled plastic in the door armature and recycled wood stock in the doors continue the eco theme.
Ultimately, the point of the DS range has been an attempt by Citroën to move upmarket and produce more profitable vehicles for the company. The DS3 has already far exceeded sales expectations and with the more recent DS4 already starting to sell well, who knows how far the much more accomplished DS5 can go? However it sells, its design ambition is a welcome return to form for a historically innovative brand.
For more information on the DS5 to their microsite www.ds5.citroen.co.uk
You may also like to read: