The DS 5’s distinctive looks and truly stylish interior are great reasons for choosing it over a German alternative. It’s just not as smooth or comfortable on the move
The DS 5 started life as a Citroen DS5, but following a 2015 update it has lost the Citroen badge and gained an improved interior with more soft-touch materials and recalibrated suspension for a smoother ride over bumps. The DS 5 is priced to compete with premium German saloon cars such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, although the DS 5 has a more stylish hatchback shape.
Style is a big selling point for the DS 5 and the interior matches the exterior on avant-garde design. The DS 5’s aircraft-inspired interior is not only much less formal than in German alternatives, but it’s also well put together – you won’t find any squeaking trim and just about everything you prod is pleasingly soft to the touch. The touchscreen infotainment system is easy to use for the most part but it ultimately can’t compete with the slicker systems from Audi, BMW or Mercedes.
In terms of space, you and your front passenger will be fine, but adults sitting in the back won’t like the limited headroom and the claustrophobic feel from the small windows. The freedom that DS designers have had, compared with colleagues at BMW, has had some less favourable effects on rearward visibility. In short, a rear-view camera is a necessity for reversing into tight parking spots, yet is only standard on range-topping models.
The DS 5’s boot is big enough for a small family’s luggage, but at 465 litres, it’s smaller than just about any alternative. For comparison, the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class all have a bigger 480-litre boot. Folding the rear seats down in the DS 5 increases luggage capacity to a decent 1,288 litres, but the seats don’t fold flat making the space less usable than that number suggests.
The DS 5 is all about not following the crowd, being unusual and rare - if you like that, then you have to check it out
The DS 5 definitely has the looks, but sadly the engines available aren’t as smooth or as quiet as those in the aforementioned German alternatives. There is one petrol with 165PS, but it’s likely to be quite thirsty, so is only worth it if you spend much of your time driving in town. If not, then a diesel is a better bet. The 120hp diesel feels slow, while the 180hp diesel is fairly expensive to buy, so the 150hp diesel is the pick with the best balance of running costs and turn of speed. Unfortunately, though, this engine is the only one without an automatic option.
At the same time as losing its Citroen name, the DS 5 was softened in order to better iron out bumps in the road. Go for the largest of wheels and it’s still pretty unsettled and fidgety, but keep wheel sizes reasonable and the DS 5, while not as relaxed at a cruise as an Audi A4 or Mercedes C-Class, is a decent motorway companion that suffers less wind noise than in a BMW 3 Series.
The DS 5 was awarded a five-star safety score when tested by Euro NCAP, and for extra peace of mind you can spec up a lane-departure warning, a head-up display alongside a safety aid called DS Connect which calls the emergency services for you if you’ve had a breakdown or an accident with the car.
Ultimately, losing the Citroen badge has hardly improved the DS 5’s desirability, but the premium hatchback is a quirky alternative to mainstream options that’s worth a look if you value individuality.