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Citroen has launched its premium, independent DS brand with the facelifted DS 5.
As an alternative choice, the car is probably the most credible wild card out there for an executive that wants something premium but doesn't want to choose from the usual suspects. Its position is weakened slightly by the new Jaguar XE, but the DS 5 does offer a unique exterior and impressive interior.
The biggest fleet seller will be the 150hp 2.0-litre diesel Elegance at 105g/km, but there is a 90g/km diesel-hybrid, which could also tempt fleet customers.
There's sufficient power from the 150hp engine to get the DS 5 smoothly up to speed, and while there's a little noise from the diesel under harsher acceleration, there's enough soundproofing to limit noise in the cabin.
DS has taken special care on the facelift to improve the ride, much criticised in the pre-facelift model, and the DS 5 is very much at home comfortably cruising and is much better at absorbing lumps in the road. While it isn't the most agile saloon on the market, it's perfectly capable on winding roads, with limited body roll.
The interior is where the DS 5 really shines though, with swooping lines wrapping round the driver and little touches that make it stand out from the crowd. The sunroof is split into three segments: one for the driver and passenger, and a separate one for rear passengers.
All the switches and dials have an aerospace feel to them, and even though it is possible to spot some Citroen switchgear in places, the touch points have all been given a little tweak, with the likes of the indicator stalks wrapped in a material that differs from that Citroen would use.
One letdown, though, is the seven-inch touchscreen: the graphics look a bit dated compared with the best brands, such as Audi have, to offer. However, drivers get a lot of kit on the Elegance trim, including the ability to link their smartphone to the car with Mirrorlink. The DS 5 also launches with the brand's new MyDS smartphone app, which can send locations to the satnav ahead of time and also includes functionality to help drivers locate their car.
One of the biggest challenges facing the car relates to running costs, and DS has some more work to do with residual value setters to help them to better understand the brand.
KwikCarcost has put RVs at 28.5%, and as a result, it damages the whole-life running costs, despite the DS 5 having a competitive engine, BIK costs for drivers, and P11D price. The model's 61.2p isn't a bad performance, but with a better RV it would mean the DS 5 could make a stronger argument for itself beyond design. As it stands, it's slightly cheaper to run a Volkswagen CC, Jaguar XE or BMW 318d, and that means DS will be relying on demand from drivers to pressure fleets to get it on lists.
DS5 2.0 BlueHDI Elegance 150
Model price range £26,980-£34,890
Residual value 28.5%
Service, maintenance and repair £2170
Vehicle Excise Duty £40
National Insurance £2243
Cost per mile 61.2p
Fuel consumption 68.9mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 105g/km (19%)
BIK 20/40% per month £86/£172
Boot space (min/max) 465/1315 litres
Engine size/power 1997cc/150hp
A positive first step, with the DS 5 displaying improved ride and design