DS 5 hatchback (2012-2018)
"It may look good and have a plush interior, but the DS 5 doesn’t ride or handle as well as some rivals, while running costs disappoint, too"
- Competent cruiser
- Distinctive design
- Classy interior
- Poor ride quality
- Expensive to buy
- Limited rear headroom
Officially a brand in its own right, DS is the premium arm of Citroen and the DS 5 was the company’s flagship, until the DS 7 Crossback was born. 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 all three trim levels – Elegance, Prestige and DS Performance Line. Safety is good – the DS 5 comes complete with a five-star Euro NCAP score and plenty of standard safety equipment.
MPG, running costs & CO2
DS 5 MPG & CO2
The DS 5 diesel range kicks off with the BlueHDi 120 engine, which comes with a six-speed manual gearbox. The 1.6-litre engine in this model returns good fuel economy of 70.6mpg and 104g/km CO2 emissions for reasonable BiK company-car tax.
The more powerful BlueHDi 150 S&S 2.0-litre diesel engine is more powerful but still manages 68.9mpg while emitting 105g/km.For those that want even more power, there is the BlueHDi 180, which is a more powerful version of the same 2.0-litre engine in the BlueHDi 150. It's only available with an automatic gearbox and is good for 64.2mpg and emissions of 114g/km.For the best fuel economy from your DS 5, you need to go for the top-of-the-range Hybrid4 200 model. This combines a 2.0-litre diesel engine with an electric motor to return 72.4mpg and emit 103g/km. It's debatable whether it's worth paying the Hybrid's steep purchase price in order to enjoy these low running costs when the BlueHDi diesels come so close to matching the economy figures.
As you might expect, the sole petrol engine in the range – a 1.6-litre with 163bhp paired with an automatic gearbox – isn't as impressive as the diesels when it comes to efficiency. You'll see no more than 47.9mpg in everyday driving, while CO2 emissions of 136g/km translate to higher company-car tax.
The DS 5 falls into insurance groups 18-30, so it's not going to be particularly cheap to cover. One piece of good news if you're considering the Hybrid is that it's not the most expensive DS 5 to insure, as it falls into group 27.
All new DS are covered by a two-year unlimited-mileage warranty, with a third year of cover also applying as long as you haven't exceeded 60,000 miles. At extra cost, you can also extend your warranty, a year at a time, up to a maximum of 120,000 miles.
The petrol DS 5 needs a service every 20,000 miles or one year, whichever comes first. The interval for the 2.0-litre diesels is the same, while the 1.6-litre diesel needs to visit the dealer every 12,500 miles or one year. Even though the DS 5 is no longer a Citroen, you can buy and service your car at your local Citroen dealer.
Engines, drive & performance
The DS 5 offers a strangely contradictory driving experience – it's not quite sharp or responsive enough to be considered a truly sporty handler in the mould of the BMW 3 Series, but it's suspension can feel firmer than you'd expect sometimes. Nevertheless, it’s a reasonably competent motorway cruiser with one of the more powerful diesel engines under the bonnet – although wind noise is higher than we’d like.
It's worth bearing in mind that the ride can be particularly harsh on the larger 18 and 19-inch alloy wheels. Thankfully, the latest DS 5 comes with an improved suspension in this respect, but if you're expecting tons of comfort, it's still worth considering the air-suspension-equipped Citroen C5 instead.
DS 5 diesel engines
DS offers a wide choice of diesel engines in the DS 5, starting with the 1.6-litre BlueHDi 120 and moving up to the 2.0-litre BlueHDi 150, and the 2.0-litre BlueHDi 180.
The BlueHDi 120 produces 118bhp and takes 12.7 seconds to go from 0-62mph. It never feels quick from a standstill but there's decent in-gear acceleration.
The 2.0-litre BlueHDi makes 148bhp but also has more urge from slow speeds than the smaller diesel, making it faster from 0-62mph (10.4 seconds).
If you want more power, then you should consider the larger 2.0-litre 178bhp BlueHDi 180 diesel engine, which gets the DS5 from 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds and is great at overtaking trucks or other slow traffic swiftly and safely.
It's also hard to make a case for the DS 5 Hybrid. It pairs the HDi 160 diesel engine with an electric motor to return fuel economy of up to 72.4mpg. This combination produces 200bhp and makes it the fastest model in the DS 5 range, going from 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds. Those numbers are impressive, but you have to pay well over £30,000 for the privilege and it takes some time to claw back the extra outlay through lower running costs.
The sole petrol engine in the DS 5 range, the THP 165, is only worth looking at if driving a petrol-powered car is really important to you, or you only envisage driving the car on very short trips around town. Its 163bhp gets the car from 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds. Relatively poor economy of 47.9mpg and low resale values mean it makes little financial sense in the long run.
While the car offers plenty of grip round corners, the DS 5 isn't particularly fun to drive, due to steering that's too light. The car is best seen as a comfortable motorway cruiser rather than a sporty hatchback.
Interior & comfort
As we've noted in the performance section, the DS 5 has firmer suspension than we'd expect. Supportive seats and a very high-quality interior go some way towards making up for this, but some buyers just won't like the way the DS 5 crashes over bumps and potholes, particularly with larger 18 or 19-inch alloy wheels fitted.
DS 5 dashboard
The wraparound driver-focused dashboard is an undoubted highlight of the DS 5 cabin and the centre console on the latest model has 12 fewer buttons than before, so the design is cleaner than ever. Digital dials, clearly laid-out high-quality buttons, some roof-mounted controls, soft-sounding warning buzzers and classy lighting all contribute to a serene environment for the driver and front-seat passenger. Some of the plastics used in less prominent places are a little scratchy and the sat-nav screen could be larger but overall the quality of the interior is very good. There’s also a large steering wheel that’s more vertically mounted than some other cars, plus a small, neat gearlever.
There are three main trim levels available on the DS 5: Elegance, Prestige and DS Performance Line. Fittingly for the upmarket nature of the DS brand, the Elegance pretty well equipped for an entry-level model.
Standard equipment includes cruise control, front and rear electric windows, rear parking sensors, DAB radio, dual-zone air-conditioning, front foglights, an electric parking brake, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, LED daytime running lights and a leather steering wheel. Given that the BlueHDi 120 is our pick of the engine range, we don't think there's any need to spend more money on the higher-spec models.
The Prestige adds xenon lights, an electric driver's seat, a reversing camera, blind spot monitoring and some other styling add-ons. DS Performance Line - as the name suggests - offers a sportier look, complete with gloss-black alloy wheels, a black roof and some unique paint options. Inside, Performance Line cars have seats that are upholstered in plusher material, while various chrome inserts and fancier trim details adorn the dashboard.
Practicality & boot space
The DS 5 is a pretty spacious car inside, with the one caveat being that rear headroom can be a bit tight for taller passengers due to the swooping roofline. Otherwise, there’s plenty of room front and back, as well as an impressively large boot – although the DS 5 Hybrid model’s batteries reduce that space considerably.
DS 5 interior space & storage
The driver and front-seat passenger should have no complaints about the amount of room on offer in the DS 5 – and their seats are seriously comfortable, too. In the back seats, however, some taller adults may find their heads brushing the roof as a result of the car’s swoopy exterior styling. There’s plenty of leg and elbow room back there, though. Cabin storage is pretty good, with no shortage of cubbies or cup-holders. We’d like a slightly bigger glovebox, however.
As standard, the DS 5 has a 465-litre boot, which is generous but some way off the Ford Mondeo hatchback’s 541-litre capacity. In the DS 5 Hybrid, however, the presence of batteries for the electric motor reduces boot space to just 325 litres, less than a Citroen C4 hatchback, which sits a class below the DS 5. Other practical hybrid models, such as the Toyota Auris Touring Sports, don’t lose any boot space compared to the regular version.
Reliability & safety
French brands like DS have made improvements when it comes to reliability in recent years, but they’re still some way off the market leaders in this regard. Our most recent Driver Power customer satisfaction survey saw owners rank parent company Citroen 20th out of 32 brands – although this result reflects the entire range, not just the DS5, which has been built to high standards to reflect its luxury image.
DS 5 reliability
The DS 5 didn't appear in our 2017 Driver Power satisfaction survey, but parent company Citroen didn't fare too well, coming 26th out of 27 brands. Of those surveyed, 12.8% reported an issue or fault within the first year of ownership.
French cars in general continue to throw up annoying electrical glitches that other manufacturers seem to have largely eliminated.
DS' parent brand Citroen has a much better reputation for safety than it does for reliability. The DS 5 was awarded the maximum five-star crash-test rating by Euro NCAP, scoring 89% for adult occupant protection and a very strong 97% in the safety assist category.
Standard safety kit on all models includes anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control to help prevent skids, hill-start assistance, a full set of airbags, ISOFIX child-seat mounting points and a seatbelt warning buzzer.