Citroen DS5 hatchback

£25,980 - £34,890

The DS 5 is a difficult car to categorise: it looks like a large hatchback or crossover, but it's intended to be a rival to executive saloons such as the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4. Neither is it called the Citroen DS5 any more – it's now part of the standalone DS range, itself pitched as a more upmarket brand than Citroen.

In reality, the DS 5 unlikely to tempt many buyers away from these established favourites – it's more likely to be seen as an interesting alternative to large family cars such as the Vauxhall Insignia and Ford Mondeo, offering distinctive styling and a more upmarket interior.

That interior boasts some very high-quality materials, sumptuous leather seats and a unique layout that sees some controls relocated to the roof – like you might find in an aircraft cockpit. In addition to this top-notch fit and finish, the interior of the DS 5 offers lots of space for you and your passengers – although taller adults might find their heads brushing the rooflining in the back, as the car's swoopy styling results in somewhat less headroom than you might expect. 

There's quite a wide choice of engines with the DS 5 – a powerful turbocharged petrol with a six-speed manual gearbox, as well as no less than four diesels with a choice of manual or automatic transmission. Finally, there's a diesel-electric hybrid that tops the range. It boasts impressive technology, but unfortunately that doesn't translate into class-leading running costs and it's quite expensive to buy in the first place.

For years, large French cars have been renowned for one thing above all else: pillow-soft ride quality, especially in top-spec models with air suspension. Somewhat surprisingly, the DS 5 bucks this trend and seemingly wants to take on BMW and Audi in the sporty handling stakes. It partly succeeds at this, but the downside is that it now rides as harshly as your average BMW or Audi.

Three trim levels are offered: DSign, DStyle and DSport, but unless you really want integrated sat nav, there's no need to look beyond the entry-level DSign version, as the DS 5 quickly starts to look like poor value for money as you move up to the higher specifications.