"The DS5 is one of the best Citroens in years, with impressive all-round ability and a top-notch interior, but it faces stiff competition."
The Citroen DS5 is a stylish version of the Citroen C5 that is designed to appeal to executive customers, and is the third of Citroen's DS-branded cars to be launched. Targeted at the likes of the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia, it actually offers something a little different with a blend of classy estate-car and hatchback looks. That quality continues inside, too, with options like watchstrap leather seats and aircraft-style switches that are positioned above the driver's head. It's a genuine step up in quality for Citroen, although it's still not quite at the level of premium rivals like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
The most economical DS5 is the diesel-electric Hybrid 4, which comes fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, but we’d recommend taking up Citroen's option to swap them for the 17-inch alloys, because then the CO2 emissions drop to 88g/km for free annual road tax, and fuel economy of 83.1mpg. The DS5 hybrid also falls into the 10 percent bracket for company car buyers, and fuel economy is 74.3mpg. All the diesel engines on offer are cheap to run, too – even the top-performing 163 HDi – and benefit from being cheaper to buy than the hybrid. If you cover a lot of annual miles we would suggest giving the THP 200 petrol, which can manage economy of just 42.2mpg, a miss. Fixed-price servicing will help keep costs down, too, and all cars come with a three-year warranty.
Interior & comfort
Even though the DS5's stiff suspension does feel fairly firm it remains comfortable when on the move and the car has excellent seats. The result is that the DS5 is very calm when driving on the motorway. The dashboard layout might not be completely intuitive, but it is stylish and the quality of the plastics used is very good, too. Engine and wind noise are nicely hushed – as long as you avoid the huge 19-inch wheels; if you don’t then tyre noise can be a bit intrusive.
Practicality & boot space
When the standard-fit split-fold rear seats are still in place, the DS5's boot offers 465 litres of space, which just about matches a BMW 3 Series Touring. However, if you go for the Hybrid4 models, the big batteries are stored beneath the boot floor and take up a hefty 140 litres. Inside, the front of the car has lots of storage compartments and deep side pockets, but the glove compartment is annoyingly small because of an intrusive fuse box. Passengers in the back also get a reasonable amount of room, although headroom for tall adults could be better due to the sleek slopping roof. Other than that, the seats are supportive and offer plenty of leg and shoulder room in both the front and rear.
Reliability & safety
Citroen doesn’t have the reputation for reliability and the DS5 isn’t going to revolutionise the French manufacturer's public profile. Citroen dropped two more places down the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey's manufacturers rankings, coming 24th out of 32. Poor build quality and reliability were two areas of criticism. Reflecting this, only two cars – the Citroen DS3 and the Citroen C3 Picasso – made it into the list of the top 100 cars, with the DS5 not even featuring in the top 150. Nonetheless, safety should be to be top drawer, as the car secured a maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests. All models come with a full range of airbags and Citroen's eTouch service, which calls the emergency services – and can help them locate you – if the car breaks down or is involved in an accident. Higher-spec models also have the option of a lane-departure warning system.
Engines, drive & performance
As many as 85 percent of DS5 buyers will go for the diesel version – with good reason, as the basic 113bhp e-HDi returns impressive economy and offers decent performance. We’d recommend the 157bhp HDi, however, because it's quick, quiet and efficient, as well as being remarkably smooth when paired with the six-speed automatic gearbox. Along with the turbocharged petrol engine, Citroen also offers a hybrid – called the Hybrid4 - it combines an electric motor with a diesel engine for four-wheel drive, giving excellent grip and impressive mpg figures. The DS5 doesn’t live up to its engines when it comes to fun driving, however. The steering is too light while cornering, although it does have lots of grip in tight bends. The DS5 is at its best on a smooth straight road and, if you avoid the larger 19-inch wheels, which can crash over bumps and potholes, you’ll find it a perfectly good long-distance cruiser. It's just never very exciting to drive.
Price, value for money & options
The Citroen DS5 comes in three main specification levels – basic DSign, mid-range DStyle and top-of-the-range DSport. You’ll have to pay a substantial sum for the top-spec models, but you get every lots of equipment, including sat-nav, keyless start, a rear-view camera, parking sensors and cruise control. The mid-spec Dstyle is probably the best compromise, however, offering luxuries, such as part-leather upholstery, for around £2,000 less than the DSport. The DS5's main problem is that it's about the same price as similarly sized cars from top-name premium brands like BMW and Audi, so resale values on the used-car market won’t be anywhere near as strong, although the Citoren does offer more equipment for your money.