Wednesday, 16 March 2016

REVIEW – DS5 Elegance

DS Automobiles are now recognised as separate from their Citroën brethren. Like Infiniti is to Nissan, and Lexus is to Toyota, DS is now the luxury arm of operations for the French manufacturer. And the biggest, most luxurious model of them all is the DS5. The car of choice for the French President François Hollande, it is somewhat reminiscent of the big Citroën’s of old. But what is it like to live with? Does it feel special, and has the separation worked? Well I grabbed a DS5 Elegance for a week to find out.

Looks – 9/10

The first thing I noticed about the DS5 is how much I noticed it. This has some serious presence. The vast bonnet spans into the raked windscreen. There are swooshes of chrome running from the headlights to the front doors, and some seriously angular daytime running lights. The front indicators operate with a ‘sweeping’ motion, and to either edge of the front bumper are some aerodynamic vents. To the side the 17-inch alloys were a little underwhelming at the side, but the kinked rear door and seemingly wraparound glass is more like it. At the back there’s some very oddly-shaped rear lights, a twin-look exhaust, and what appears to be the world’s smallest wiper blade. Finished in Ink Blue my test car looked as elegant as its model name suggested.

Step inside the DS5 and you can sense that luxury. With the optional deep blue/black Nappa leather pack (£2,390) this not only complemented the exterior colour but provided the most inviting-looking seats. Then you get to the aircraft-like switchgear for the windows, and even in an overhead console to control the three (yes, three) electric blinds. Both front passengers get their own mini blind, and there’s a larger one in the back. The centre console is angled toward the driver, and features an integrated screen, start button and a nice analogue clock. The dashboard is fully digital and the DS5 gets a heads-up display for good measure. It too is controlled from overhead, and the DS5 feels more like a cockpit than a cabin.

Handling/Performance – 6/10

The engine in my test car was the basic, 1.6-litre diesel engine. It has 120PS and 300Nm of torque, which is sent to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox. Performance is relatively uninspiring, with 0-62mph taking 12.7 seconds and a top speed of 119mph. Once you get moving though the DS5 picked up well enough. It will never pin you back in your seat, but it never really felt lethargic. What did feel wrong was the manual gearbox. This car feels much more suited to a comforting, effortless drive, and an automatic gearbox would certainly help this. Other engine options include a BlueHDi 180 diesel, or a THP 210 petrol (on the Prestige spec) and either of these would be a more luxurious choice.

The handling of the DS5 is definitely set to ‘comfort’. And that’s no bad thing; it suits the car. With 17-inch alloys there’s plenty of rubber to cushion the occupants from the road. The steering is relatively easy, albeit a little bit numb, and the suspension is soft and comfortable if not a little bit ‘wallowy’. The aforementioned Nappa leather seats were also as comfortable as they were visually appealing. Set off on a hundred-mile journey and you will arrive as refreshed as when you left. It eats up the miles, and with plenty of soundproofing the cabin is a quiet environment.

Economy – 9/10

The 1.6-litre diesel is a rather efficient engine, offering 70.6mpg on a combined cycle, which is remarkable for a big executive car like this. With start stop technology and the lovely 6-speed gearbox CO2 emissions are a mere 104g/km. VED band B means that road tax is free in the first year, and £20 thereafter. The DS5 is therefore a rather cheap car to run, for both private and company car users. Don’t be put off the larger engines either; the BlueHDi 180 automatic emits just 114g/km CO2 (£30 road tax) and offers 64.2mpg on a combined cycle. Not too bad at all.

Practicality – 9/10

As you would guess from the sizeable exterior, there is plenty of space inside. Rear-seat passengers will find the DS5 particularly roomy, whereas the overhead controls, large steering wheel and stuck-out centre console make the front feel somewhat more enclosed. The boot is plenty big enough, although some room is taken up by the subwoofer for the Denon HiFi (£550). The DS5 is full of tech to make life easier, such as reversing camera, cruise control with speed limiter, dual-zone climate control and electronic handbrake with hill-hold function. I really like the extra glass in the A-pillar, it gives great visibility at junctions. Optional extras include the Electric Comfort Pack (£500) which adds memory front seats, heated front seats and a lumbar massage function for the driver. The DS LED Vision Pack (£1,200) gives directional Xenon headlights, and the Blind Spot Monitoring System (£300) is very useful and something I’d certainly recommend.

Fun – 7/10

So what about the fun factor? Well the DS5 is sleek and stylish, and to me says that the owner has good taste. The cabin is very funky with its aircraft styling, and the driver’s seat is a nice place to sit. Add in the lumbar massage and you’ve got a great cruiser. But in terms of fun, the 1.6-litre engine is lacking. There’s no gusto, and the manual gearbox feels wrong for a car like this. I certainly think a more powerful engine with a smooth automatic would give a more satisfying drive. There’s also a sense that the rear-seat passengers feel like VIP’s, and that can’t be appreciated from the driver’s seat.

Concluding Remarks

So that’s my week with the DS5. The Elegance model with a 1.6-litre diesel manual starts at £26,350, and you do get a lot for your money. It’s quite easy to get over £30k once you factor in a couple of options, but even at this level the DS5 holds its own. From the rep blasting up and down the motorway every day, to the large family car, the DS5 is versatile and dynamic. I’d certainly implore you to check one out. Pop into a dealer or log on to the DS website (or the Citroën website if you want to configure one!). The DS5 Elegance; from the aircraft styling to the luxurious comfort, it’s full of surprises.

Total Score – 40/50

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