2014 CITROEN DS5 REVIEW
What’s Hot: Edgy styling inside and out, sharp steering and handling.
What’s Not: Ride a bit firm, cupholders are missplaced, rear headroom lacking.
X-FACTOR: It's like nothing else on our roads: the seemly DS5 makes normal hatches look positively boring.
Vehicle Style: Medium hatch
Engine/Trans: 120kW/340Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl diesel | 6spd auto
Price: $51,990 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.1l/100km | tested: 8.2l/100km
So where do we place this Citroen, the stylish and unique DS5?
According to VFACTS, it’s a medium car. But it sits a tad higher than most, has a hatch-cum-wagon back and its styling is like no other medium-segment competitor.
Spend a few minutes casting your eyes over the details: chrome stripes running along its forward flanks, blacked out C-pillars, foglights and DRLs inset into the same C-shape - it’s beautiful.
But how does it stack up as an everyday car, rather than a piece of artwork? We spent a week in one to find out.
Quality: For the most part, the DS5’s interior is excellent.
The leather used to trim the seats is a smooth Nappa hide, and the watch-strap-inspired leather centres look great.
The swooping dashboard is soft-touch plastic and the instrumentation is as contemporary as you'll find, but clear to read.
While the centre stack is a little piecemeal with buttons all over the place, the screen is clear with good resolution and the sat-nav accurate.
The portrait-layout clock is a little out of place, but burnished metal-look trim breaks up the large areas of black and is a refreshing change from faux-fibre.
The metal-capped window switches also look great.
We did notice some creaking coming from the centre console as your leg rests against it when cornering. Other than that anomaly, the build seems quite solid.
Comfort: Despite the seats being firm, their well-designed support means you’re not handed an aching back after a long journey. We’d like to see the massage function do a little more than simply push the lower lumbar in and out, however.
The wide centre-console sits quite tall and breaks up the front into two distinct zones. Its height means that the lid for the cubby-hole sits nicely under your elbow as an armrest.
The rear seat can easily house three young adults, and there’s plenty of legroom. Headroom will be an issue for anyone over 5’ 10” though, with a sloping roofline eating into available space.
Equipment: What makes the DS5 so unique is its split roof approach. Both driver and front-seat passenger get their own sun-blind for the panoramic roof, while rear passengers have one to share.
Directly above the centre-console is a roof-mounted console with controls for the blinds and head-up display functions, while a seven-inch infotainment screen sits up front.
Dual-zone air-con, sat-nav, reversing camera with guides, cruise control, MP3/CD and Bluetooth audio and phone are all standard, as is the best eight-speaker stereo in the PSA range. The sound quality definitely puts other Citroens to shame.
Storage: Open up the armrest on the centre console and it seems like the cubby hole is quite small.
That is until you put your hand in and realise that it extends quite a distance forward, under the rotary infotainment controller, giving you plenty of “hidden” storage.
The biggest debit on the DS5’s storage ledger is the altogether useless cupholders fitted to the front door pockets. They’re too far away to be of use and too short to stop large drinks from falling over.
The boot is a good size though, at 465 litres, and the back seats can be flipped forward easily too.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Press the inverted trapezium - the start button - and the diesel quickly cranks into life and settles into a nice gravelly idle.
It suffers from a bit of lag when looking for a quick stamp of power, which, combined with a sometimes slow-to-respond auto, means you have to plan ahead when pulling out in front of traffic.
Refinement: With double-layered glass on all four windows, the cabin is impressively hushed, though the big (and impossibly gorgeous) 18-inch wheels do present some tyre-roar on rough roads.
Ride and Handling: That steering wheel is just lovely to hold, even if it is a little big, but the flat-bottom design imbues a real sense of sportiness.
That tiller, with its sharp steering response and fabulous weight, makes the DS5 simply a pleasure to wheel around the place.
The handling is also very good for a car of this size, but it does impede on its ride quality. This isn’t anything like Citroens past - it’s very firm.
For this segment, and for something that isn’t exactly fast, a slightly softer tune would gel a little better with buyers I would think.
Braking: With vented front discs and solid rears, the DS5 has excellent feel and plenty of bite from small amounts of input; the brakes inspire a lot of confidence.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars; the DS5 recorded a score of 35.66 out of a possible 37.
Safety features: Driver and passenger airbags along with side and curtain airbags keep the passenger cell protected. Also standard is the usual suite of acronyms: ABS, ESC, TC, EBA, EBD and HAS (hill-start assist).
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Citroen offers a market-leading six-years/unlimited-km with roadside assistance for the length of the warranty. (Read more here.)
Service costs: Capped price servicing is listed at $360/year or 20,000km, for the first three years.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Mazda6 Touring ($41,650) - A beautifully-built interior and swoopy exterior make the Mazda6 wagon an excellent choice. It’s cheaper than the DS5, rides a lot better, but does look a little bland in comparison. (see Mazda6 reviews)
Ford Mondeo Titanium hatch ($46,990) - Grippy, predictable handling combined with a very liveable ride gives the Mondeo a broad appeal. As a hatch, it’s also practical, but its interior is not a patch on the DS5 (see Mondeo reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Without a doubt, the Citroen DS5 turns heads - chic, gorgeous really, this styling works.
If you want your car to stand out, then there’s no need to go spending big on a flashy convertible; the DS5 will do the job, just fine.
But as an everyday appliance, it’s a little bit too firm down below to be considered luxurious.
It’s certainly fun to punt around, although the laggy diesel blunts enjoyment a bit. And it’s spacious, but lacks the rear headroom to complete the package.
It’s such a very nice car on so many levels, but you will have to live with its compromises. It is a French car after all; they always come with a quirk or two.
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 - $80