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Citroen DS5: Test Drive Review

Date: 26 October 2011   |   Author: Guy Bird

Category: Large hatchback
P11D price: £23,000-£33,000
Key rival: Chrysler Delta

First a disclaimer: This tester has probably had his head turned considerably by the oodles of extra kit on the DS5 models available on this early European launch.

The detail of what will actually be standard on UK models is as yet unknown, but should still be decent.

Disclosure out the way, the DS5 has to be the most exciting Citroen for years. Although I'm far from a convert to the two previous upmarket Citroen models, the DS3 and DS4, the bigger DS5 seems a breed apart due to a standout exterior design, a quality original interior and competitive powertrains including a groundbreaking diesel/electric hybrid.

The DS5 is an unusually large hatchback - despite its name it's based on the C4 platform and sits between a C4 and C5 in length - but is wrapped up in a winning exterior.

Inside is even better. In top trims with options added the DS5 looks like a prestige model rather than a volume car. Knurled aircon knobs, cool aircraft-style ceiling switches, a triple sunroof and a thumb print-patterned metal accent on the door handles - from the same supplier as Aston Martin no less - convince not only in finish but more crucially, given previous lesser Citroens, in fit and feel too. The watch bracelet-pattern seat pad design in high-end leather is the icing on the cake, but it's an option even beyond top-end DSport trim (see my introductory point).

Then there's the pioneering diesel/electric Hybrid4 (only seen elsewhere on sister brand Peugeot's new 3008 Hybrid) that can work in four modes from full-electric zero-emission to 4WD as desired. To drive it's reasonable if a little whiney when not in full-electric mode - which is most of the time - but it's still impressive kit.

The price for this Citroen, set to be about £33,000, will make most fleet managers wince, and probably won't be offset by the tax breaks and fuel savings its low 99g/km CO2 rating and 74.1mpg bring. Citroen says it will account for 10% of sales. There's also a cracking 200hp 1.6 petrol but that too will only represent 5%. The expected runaway best sellers - accounting for 85% of sales - will be the diesels. Starting from £23,000, the 1.6 110 e-HDi emits 114g/km of CO2 and 64.2mpg while the 2.0 160 HDi in DStyle with 18-inch alloys registers a creditable 55.4mpg and 133g/km. The latter drives thoroughly well, with a comfortable ride, solid steering and good road holding.

With RV experts putting the DS5 at least 5% higher than similarly sized posh-trim Citroens, although admittedly still lower than traditional prestige models, the DS5 really could start to make sense. I recommend a serious test drive, and don't spare the interior options if you purchase.