Citroen DS5 2.0 HDi

Does Citroen's new luxury car make as much sense with a diesel engine as with hybrid power?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Citroen has set itself a big challenge by taking on premium brands such as Audi and BMW, but the DS5 is the perfect car with which to do it. The cabin is as stylish and well built as those of its German rivals – if not more so – and the car is also fun to drive, as well as perfect for eating up motorway miles. There are negatives: the ride is firm and headroom in the rear is limited. But these are minor blemishes on an otherwise impressive car.

We were impressed by the diesel-electric HYbrid4 version of the DS5, but will the quirky crossover impress as much with a 2.0-litre 163bhp diesel engine? We got behind the wheel to find out.

While the HYbrid4 (driven here) claims economy of 74.4mpg, the combination of the HDi and a six-speed auto box delivers only 46.3mpg. Not only does that mean bigger fuel bills, buyers will also have to pay more in road tax, due to the 158g/km CO2 emissions.

Video: Watch CarBuyer's video review of the DS5

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Yet opting for the standard diesel does have its merits. For instance, the starting price drops from around £30,000 to £26,000, and boot space is up from 325 to 465 litres. You don’t lose much in the way of refinement, either. It makes more noise on start-up than the hybrid, but the DS5’s cabin is so well insulated that the diesel engine is hardly ever more than a quiet hum.

Even at motorway speeds, wind and road noise are almost completely absent. Performance is good, with a wide spread of torque ensuring the DS5 feels much quicker than the official figures suggest. Our model can do 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds, while models with a manual gearbox claim a sprint time of 8.8 seconds. Thankfully, the automatic gearbox is much more smooth-shifting than than the jerky EGS semi-auto that comes fitted to e-HDi cars.

Models fitted with our diesel engine are slightly sharper to drive than the HYbrid4, as that car’s heavy batteries add about 100kg in weight. On our twisty test route, the DS5 impressed – it serves up plenty of grip and has only the slightest hint of body roll. The steering is perfectly weighted, and there’s enough feedback to give you confidence in fast corners. Engineers told us this Citroen is more of a sports car than a GT – we’d say they’re absolutely right. But the focus on handling does mean the ride is quite firm. Thankfully, it’s never uncomfortable and the soft and supportive seats take the sting out of long journeys. There’s even the option of fitting massage seats.

Our car rode on 18-inch wheels – 17 and 19-inch options are also available – and it struggled to soak up small road imperfections. Still, in a back-to-back drive with the heavier HYbrid4, the ride in our standard car was better.

Visually, the DS5 looks like nothing else on the road. Chrome strips running from the headlights into the A-pillars emphasise the long bonnet, and stylish C-shaped cut-outs feature either side of the front bumper.

At the rear, the narrow windscreen and blacked-out C-pillars help create the illusion of a floating roof. There’s also jacked-up suspension to give you a more commanding view of the road. However, the most impressive part of the DS5 is the cabin.

Not only is it one of the most stylish we’ve seen – thanks to classy switches, digital gauges, a colour head-up display and watchstrap-style leather seats – but the fit, finish and material quality are all top-notch.

Even on the most basic models, you’ll struggle to find a hard and scratchy plastic or flimsy piece of trim anywhere. In fact, it’s on a level with the best cabins from the likes of Audi and BMW.

Interestingly, its exactly these kind of premium manufacturers that Citroen is hoping to tempt buyers away from – thanks to a long list of talents and distinctive styling, the DS5 is the perfect way to do it. Whether that translates into sales remains to be seen, but either way this is one of the best cars Citroen has produced in recent years.

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