2013 CITROEN DS5 DIESEL REVIEW
What’s Hot: Balanced handling and luxurious snug interior
What’s Not: 'Disconnected' steering feel, firm suspension
X-Factor: Nothing mundane and conventional here; a style leader for those who value chic individual charm.
Vehicle Style: Medium Hatch
Price: $51,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 120kW/340Nm 4cyl diesel | 6spd auto
Fuel Economy (claimed): 6.1 l/100km
So, the obvious question, what is it? Well, it is in fact a hatch (sorry Citroen), but the DS5 certainly sits apart with a style all of its own.
If the DS5 can be categorised, ‘different’ may be the correct pigeon-hole, particularly when placed side-by-side with its German rivals.
It's the DS5's 'different-ness' that gives it some breathing space in the premium-hatch market. Few manufacturers are as bold as Citroen in putting fashion and style at the heart of automotive function.
But, despite appealing individual lines, a full feature list and good on-road performance, the market hasn't really noticed the DS5.
So, is the market missing something here, and does the DS5 have what it takes to turn sales around?
The interior is a highlight, it's quite luxurious and filled with French character and chic style.
Features include a pop-up colour head-up display, ‘aircraft’ style switches in the centre console (and overhead) along with a classy analogue clock.
Keeping to a theme of doing things a little differently, there is a digital tachometer and a sat-nav display within the instrument binnacle.
In this spec, climate control, sat-nav, electronic park-brake, programmable speed-limiter / cruise control system and a 13-litre double storage compartment under the armrest are all included.
Here, there's a USB and auxiliary input in the top section, while the bottom part can hold a 1.5 litre bottle, and is chilled and lit.
'Sportlounge' leather is standard fitment to the seats which are comfortable and generously padded. They are also heated and have a massage function.
For something a little out of the ordinary, the DS5 is available with optional 'watch-strap' leather finish.
Other interior features include a seven-inch colour screen, LED mood lighting, keyless ignition and Bluetooth audio streaming.
ON THE ROAD
Its styling might set it apart, but on-road the Citroen DS5 is typically European.
That means a firm suspension that can be a bit unsettled and chatter on corrugations and broken tarmac, but is refined and quiet on better highway surfaces.
Under the bonnet the 120kW/340Nm diesel engine goes about its business so quietly you'll barely notice it's a diesel.
It's no slouch and can be hustled along out on the tarmac, but don't expect it to snarl at passing hot-hatches.
That said, there is ample there - 340Nm is a healthy dollop of torque in a car this size and weight - to give it an equally-healthy turn of speed when needed.
Show it some corners and you'll also like the way it goes about things, but you'll need to overlook the 'wooly' and disconnected steering feel.
We enjoyed some quite spirited driving in the DS5. Despite its higher stance (than, say, an Audi A4), it's a surprise how sporty it feels and the flat and well-controlled way it sits.
All of Citroen’s DS range has suspension tilted towards ‘firm’. The DS5 irons out the worst of the hits but the firmer compliance can be noticeable on our rougher secondary roads (and some appalling city ones).
That said, the ride in the DS5 is better than its smaller DS sisters.
The only transmission option in the DS5 is a six-speed automatic (matched to either the 1.6 litre 115kW turbo-petrol engine or to the 120kW HDi turbo-diesel engine tested here).
In ‘sport’ mode, you can have a bit of fun with it. Left to itself it will actively downshift on approach to a corner and, while a little slower between ratios than some of the better modern autos, will generally have the right gear underfoot when needed.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars (35.66 points out of 37)
Safety features: Electronic brake force distribution, emergency brake assist and ABS, intelligent traction control, electronic stability program (ESP), Security Pack (six airbags and seatbelt warning light).
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years / 100,000km
Service costs: All DS models come with capped-price servicing, set at $360 per year or 20,000 kms (whichever comes first) for the first three years or 60,000km of the vehicle’s life.
VERDICT I OVERALL
Don’t forget, you’re getting a diesel engine for that price in the Citroen too.
But it's facing a hard task. The DS5 might have fashionable lines on its side - it looks terrific - but it will dislodge few buyers from its more-conventional German competitors.
That said, the DS5 is worth your consideration. From the wheel it feels the premium buy, there's a very good diesel under the bonnet and it's got the style to set you apart from the crowd.
It's one for those who value being 'different'.
CITROEN DS5 RANGE
- DS5 Dsport 115kW Turbo Petrol Auto - $48,990
- DS5 Dsport 120kW HDi Auto - $51,990
- Hi Fi System - $1,000
- Metallic Paint - $800
- Premium Pearlescent Paint - $1,000
- Watchstrap Leather - $2,700