Citroen DS5 hatchback

£25,980 - £34,890

DS is now officially a standalone brand, and the DS 5 is the flagship model. You won’t find a Citroen badge anywhere, although it's still the same as it always has been underneath the skin. 

The DS 5 represents an alternative take on the compact executive aimed at the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class. It adopts a very different bodystyle, though, and looks like a cross between a crossover and hatchback, with very distinctive lines and plenty of chrome detailing to match up to its upmarket aspirations.

It's more likely to appeal to those looking at traditional family hatchbacks like the Ford Mondeo, though, or even SUVs like the Mazda CX-5.

Engine-wise, the DS 5 comes with a choice of powerplants, including a 1.6-litre petrol, three diesel engines and a diesel-electric hybrid, which produces 200bhp and is four-wheel drive. We’d pick one of the diesels, in particular the mid-powered 2.0-litre BlueHDi 150, because it has a good balance of performance and economy. It returns almost 70mpg and costs just £20 a year to tax. 

You’d think that a large, luxurious model from DS would be exceedingly comfortable and relaxing to drive, but it's not the case with the DS 5. The suspension is quite firm and large alloy wheels combine to make the ride quite harsh. 

Inside, the DS 5 is suitably upmarket with a futuristic design and hi-tech centre console. Standard equipment is generous, with even the entry-level Elegance trim having dual-zone air-conditioning, rear parking sensors, cruise control, seven-inch touchscreen and DAB digital radio.

The DS 5 is a roomy car. There's a lot of space for front passengers, but rear passengers will find the sloping roofline impacts on rear headroom. The dark headlining and roof storage console also impedes on space in the rear.

The boot is a good size and is easy to access thanks to the hatchback bodystyle, but the hybrid version's boot space is much smaller because the batteries are located beneath the boot floor.

The DS brand is proving to be a reliable brand, too – and the DS 5 feels particularly well made. However, rivals from BMW and Audi feel much more impressive. The DS5 is a safe car, though, and was awarded five stars by Euro NCAP. Standard safety kit includes plenty of airbags, parking sensors, hill-start assistance and emergency braking assistance. 

Three trim levels are offered: Elegance, Prestige and a 1955 Limited Edition, but unless you really want extras like brighter, Xenon headlights and a reversing camera, there's no need to look beyond the entry-level Elegance version, as it's very well equipped and the DS 5 quickly starts to look like poor value for money once you add to the price of the car.