Citroen DS5 hatchback

£26,350 - £35,370

Officially a brand in its own right, DS is the premium arm of Citroen and the DS 5 is the company’s flagship, for now. Although you now won’t find the name ‘Citroen’ mentioned anywhere on the car, it’s pretty much the same underneath as the Citroen DS 5.

It purports to be an alternative take on the compact executive recipe – firstly by offering a hatchback, rather than saloon, body style – and takes on the likes of the Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3 Series, Jaguar XE and Audi A4. Its hatchback/crossover bodystyle may lead you to take other options into account, too such as the Ford Mondeo hatchback or BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo, or even an SUV like the Mazda CX-5. The DS is a distinctive-looking thing, though, with plenty of sharp creases, bold headlight clusters and loads of chrome.

Under the bonnet, there’s a 1.6 and two 2.0-litre diesels to choose from, as well as a couple of turbocharged 1.6-litre petrols. The slightly left-field choice will be the diesel-electric hybrid, which doesn’t quite deliver the running costs you might expect and is the most expensive version to buy, too. Our favourite is the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel, as it provides the best balance between performance and running costs in the range.

From behind the wheel, the DS 5 remains something of an oddity. It’s nowhere near as much fun to drive as a Jaguar XE or BMW 3 Series, but nor is it comfortable and cosseting like an Audi A4 or Mercedes C-Class. Stiff suspension and large alloy wheels (with very low-profile tyres) combine to make the ride really quite uncomfortable – especially at low speeds.

Get it up to motorway speeds, however, and the DS is reasonably smooth and quiet and should prove a reasonably accomplished companion for long journeys.

Space in the front is fine and there’s enough legroom in the back, although the sloping roofline does limit headroom and the high window line can make things feel rather claustrophobic in the back. Interior quality is good, too, while there’s plenty of kit offered on both trim levels – Elegance and Prestige. Safety is good – the DS 5 comes complete with a five-star Euro NCAP score and plenty of standard safety equipment.