Citroen DS5

Uniquely styled diesel hybrid is a quirky but compelling choice

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Nobody does radical cars like Citroen – and the DS5 is sure to rank alongside the DS, XM and C6 as another dramatic piece of design. But there’s more to this family car than eye-catching styling. It really feels luxurious, drives well and boasts impressive technology in the HYbrid4 system. If you like the stand- out styling and don’t baulk at the price, it’s a refreshing and well executed package.

It's not often that a new model arrives without any direct rivals, but the curious Citroen DS5 is just that. The flagship crossover sits above the firm’s DS3 and DS4 models and offers an alternative to premium cars such as the Audi A4 Avant, with a starting price of around £23,000. But is it too quirky for its own good?
See the DS5 in the flesh, and it takes several minutes to take in all the details, but once you do, the overall look works well. Chrome strips run from the headlights into the A-pillars, while the foglamps sit in cut-out ‘c’-sections framing the grille. At the rear, the black C-pillars make the roof appear to float over the rest of the body.
Video: Watch CarBuyer's video review of the DS5
[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_narrow","fid":"68829","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image"}}]]
It’s just as innovative inside. The leather seats are designed to look like the links in a metal watch strap and feel very comfortable indeed, while the various switches and toggles are arranged on the centre console and above the driver’s head where a pilot would expect to find them. The driving position is slightly raised, and you get a good view out.
Up close, the DS5 appears quite compact, but in reality it’s only 30cm shorter than a Ford Mondeo Estate. There’s quite a lot of room in the cabin, and space for three adults in the rear, but tall passengers will find their heads touching the roof lining. The 465-litre boot is on a par with the BMW 3 Series Touring.
Engines include 1.6-litre and 2.0 diesel units with 109bhp and 163bhp respectively, and a pair of 1.6-litre turbo petrols with 153bhp and 197bhp. But the big news is the HYbrid4 version which we drove.
It’s Citroen’s first production hybrid, and features a 163bhp 2.0-litre HDi engine driving the front wheels, while an electric motor powers the rears. It makes up to 37bhp in Sport mode, for a total output of 200bhp and 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds, 107g/km of CO2 and nearly 70mpg. The only penalties are 
a smaller boot – because of space taken up by the batteries – and the steep £30,000 price.
On the move, the HYbrid4 is impressive. You can run the car solely on electricity in ZEV mode for three miles at speeds of around 40mph, but even in Auto mode – when the vehicle swaps between the two power sources – the engine barely fires up in town.
Head for open roads, and the combination of the two means there is always plenty of punch for easy overtaking. A 4WD mode is handy for slippery conditions, too.
The DS5 handles pretty well. The electro-hydraulic steering is accurate and provides decent feedback, while there isn’t much in the way of body roll, either.
Our test car had 235/40 section tyres on huge 19-inch wheels, which meant there was lots of grip, but the ride was on the firm side. Go for 17-inch wheels and you’ll get sub-100g/km CO2 emissions, as well as 74mpg.
The DS5 certainly isn’t cheap, but it all adds up to a genuinely different and desirable family car.

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e
Fiat 500 vs Honda e vs MINI Electric
Car group tests

Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e

The new Fiat 500, MINI Electric and Honda e are three retro-inspired electric superminis - but which is best?
19 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review
Volkswagen ID.4 GTX
Volkswagen ID.4 SUV

New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review

VW ID.4 EV gets another electric motor and four-wheel drive in hot GTX form
21 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition
Ford Puma

Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed

Ford unveils a special edition Puma ST, with a black and gold colour scheme chosen by Ford fans over social media
18 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review
Volkswagen Caddy California MPV - front
Volkswagen Caddy

New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review

It’s a family hauler and weekend camper all rolled into one, but is the Volkswagen Caddy California any good?
21 Jun 2021
'A top footballer works minutes for his car, but the average worker must graft for 12 months'
Opinion - average car
Opinion

'A top footballer works minutes for his car, but the average worker must graft for 12 months'

Mike Rutherford says it's increasingly easy for them, and far harder for us, to earn enough for our new cars
20 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services
Tesla Model 3 police car - front
News

Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services

Tesla hopes to offer UK police forces a new zero-emission emergency responder option with the Model 3 police car
17 Jun 2021