Citroen DS5 vs rivals

Citroen DS5 vs rivals
Credits: Otis Clay
30 Apr, 2012 12:00pm

Our executive champion takes on alternatives from VW and Citroen

German models dominate the executive car class, but Citroen is looking to break this monopoly with its striking new DS5.

There’s more to this car than glitzy looks, though, such as the option of a diesel hybrid powertrain and a level of kit that puts the usual company car choices to shame. We tested the conventional 2.0-litre HDi diesel, which Citroen reckons will account for the majority of sales.

The DS5 isn’t the only newcomer relying on eye-catching looks to tempt buyers in the competitive corporate world, as Volkswagen has given its CC a makeover. Fresh styling and improved standard equipment make it more attractive than ever – but to win this test, both models will have to beat the long-standing default choice for go-getting executives.

The BMW 3 Series has made this class its own in recent years and the latest model adds a dash of style to the usual formula. Yet it still looks conservative alongside the DS5 and CC, so does it have what it takes to beat them?


Business buyers have never had it so good, as the compact executive class is bursting with new arrivals. But does any of them do enough to displace our class leader? The short answer is no.

The BMW 3 Series is the consummate all-rounder, mixing attractive looks with a classy cabin, low running costs and engaging driving dynamics. Overall, it’s a prestige car that won’t cost the earth to run and still looks the part.

The DS5 takes a well deserved second place. It has a very specific appeal, but if you like the styling, chances are you’ll be willing to overlook the higher tax bill and poor ride quality and handling. And even the mid-range DStyle spec comes with enough standard kit to shame its more expensive rivals here.

That leaves the Volkswagen CC in third place. It’s smart and decent to drive, but neither stylish enough nor good enough value to stand out from the crowd here. Yet while it finishes last in 2.o TDI 170 GT form, it’s worth remembering that cheaper and more efficient CCs are available.

BMW 3 Series ★★★★★

The 3 Series is bigger and better than before, and now has a splash of style. There are few real weaknesses, so although it’s an unimaginative choice for company buyers, it’s the best. Let’s face it, nothing beats the feeling of knowing you’re driving the finest car a class has to offer.

Citroen DS5 ★★★

Even though the Citroen won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, we think it looks great. It’s certain to get you noticed on the road. If only it had the polished driving dynamics to go with its futuristic design. More comfort, precision and composure would make the DS5 a contender.

Volkswagen CC ★★★

Volkswagen has ditched the Passat name, but not much else has changed. The new look divides opinion and the CC is too pricey in this company. It’s classy and good to drive, but the impact of its biggest selling point – its distinctive looks – has been reduced by the arrival of the DS5.

Disqus - noscript

What's happened to all the posters that accuse AE of VAG bias. Quiet today aren't we?

I love the DS5, and would consider it above the other two cars in this test, however, my main gripe is with the weight of the car. Almost 200kg more than the BMW? It would certainly help performance and economy if the weight was less, and this isnt even the hybrid version. Maybe that has got something to do with the firm setup?

But it is good to see that the predicted residual value is reasonable rather than shocking. But before I go for this car, I would buy the C6 first as I have never owned a Citroen before

Give me chance! Actually the CC was already the exception that proves the rule as it received faint praise in a previous AE review.

I cannot really comment on this review as I have no personal experience of any of these vehicles. Nevertheless It does illustrate the problems faced by anyone reading motor magazines.

The DS5 gets the same faint praise for ride and handling from AE. They are not unique in this but..... Magazine B disputes this view strongly. Magazine C considers it the best family car of the year! Dare it be said that AE tends to put out received opinions a little too readily regarding both Citroen and VAG?

An interesting variation from the usual British motoring punditry can be found on "The Getawayer" website. The presenter, Guido, who speaks fluent albeit heavily accented English, gives his views on the more sporting sort of vehicles but makes his own point of view clearly and fairly. Thus, whilst he is understandably pro-German this is straightforward. For instance, he dislikes Mercedes and the Audi A.1 , whilst approving of BMW and, with some reservations, the Jaguar XF. His surprise hit is the DS3. Give this site a whirl and get a new viewpoint!

Sorry ladies and gentlemen, but -imho-there is the Citroen and the rest. About the krautwagen I have the impression its the Russians who design for them, not the design big-shots of Germany. And the bimmer, well it is a good car to drive but style ... Oh, please !

I vote the bold of designers of citroen, which always construct special vehicles

"Dramatically styled newcomer looks to shake up exec class"? What a load of tosh - it'll fail miserably. Dynamically inferior to a Mondeo or Insignia let alone a 3 series, and don't get me started on PSA dealers. The only real Citroen in recent years was the C6 and look what happened to that. The RWD 3-series is the only serious contender there, although I'm very disappointed that BMW have all but abandoned straight six petrols - you need to go for at least a 335 to get that iconic sonorous 6-pot song.

The Citroen has no place in this test.

The DS5 engine produces 160bhp, the BMW, 181bhp, yes the 3-series would be quicker.

According to the BMW configurator, the price you would pay for this car with the optional 18 inch alloys as shown, which is key to making this car look anything other than bog standard, is £32,245, the Citroen is £3,995 less, even with the top of the range seats.

Let's even it out a bit - the BMW 320d EffiecientDyamics (163bhp) 16inch alloys (no option to upgrade), pearlesent paint, black leather seats, £29,995 and the Citroen DS5 DSport 19 inch wheels, pearlesent paint, black leather seats, £29,000 - the most you would pay, unless you wanted the hybrid.

The new 3-series "exterior styling…has evolved". I know, when I first saw it, I honestly thought it was a facelift. It is then described as "sleek and elegant", really? and where's this "style" you talk of?

I would happily buy a DS5. I would certainly own the 3-Series too. However, just as I would never think of comparing a Fiesta to an Astra, I wouldn't compare these cars.

As for the CC - I thought "boring works"?

Wouldn't the A5 Sportback have been a more suitable rival than the 3-series?

Although I love the looks of the DS5, there is no denying that it is too firm - yes, I've driven it - and there is also slightly too much road noise; the DS4 seemed more refined actually.

I may still buy it due to those brilliant seats that shames even Volvos, and the styling which is in a class of its own!

Having checked out the DS5 at the Geneva Show and had a test drive I do think you get a lot of toys with the DS5, I just love the looks, and am with the growing majority it seems who are finding the BMW's and Audi's getting boring now, every model looks like a facelift....

It's pleasing to see Citroen being experimental and innovative after years of bland lacklustre offerings. Saw one today in the metal, have to say it looks good! I especially like the side profile and rear, the front end, I have reservations about, it's alittle fussy and overdone. The interior looks warm and inviting with touches of French flair, and nice use of materials. The other two, well, the VW is nice in it's own nonsense Germanic way, the BMW is, as always overrated, it can't seem to decide what spectrum or niche to fill wether it's a sporting saloon, or a luxury one, or a family one. It's neither beautiful nor bold or interesting, so it comes last for me.

I have to echo the comments of jonthefox. These 3 cars are not comparable in terms of price. I have just ordered a DStyle 2.0 HDi and I didn't even test drive the 3 Series and the CC. Both of these cars are far more expensive and more than the list price would indicate as there a little more negotiating to be made on the DS5 than the others. The DS5 DStyle can be had for roughly 23K OTR. That includes the paint upgrade and very nice part leather seats.

The cars I actually test drove for comparison were the Focus Estate, the Astra Sports Tourer and the VW Golf Estate. All offer similarly large and flexible load space. The DS5 fairs very well in comparison to these. More expensive than the Focus and Astra, but more refined. Cheaper and more exciting than the Golf.

The DS5 is presented as an executive car and that is good company to keep - it does its image no harm at all. It will never win those battles though and given its price that is no problem.

Finally a note on the DS5 ride quality. I have read a lot of reviews saying this and most of them were driving cars with 19'' alloys (200 bhp petrol gets even stiffer I believe). I drove a DS5 on 18'' wheels and there were no issues at all. I read those reviews and test drove again to consider down grading to 17'' wheels. I don't understand all the fuss. The 18s were fine on motorways, backstreets, speedbumps. Its a little firm but no more.

Well after reading some of the views here, i can say that i have owned a BMW 3 series and i now own DS5. The DS5 is a great car, far better than the BMW. It ticks all the right boxes, price, MPG, space, handling, gadgets and most of all LOOKS. Boring BMW;s and VAG