Citroen DS 5 review : Stylish alternative to an executive saloon


  • Distinctive styling
  • Very comfortable
  • Cheap-to-run diesels


  • Looks divide opinion
  • Not much fun to drive
  • Tight rear seats

The DS 5 is in fact a rebadged version of the old Citroen DS5, a car that wanted to compete with small executive saloons such as theBMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class.

Along with the DS badge (you won’t find a Citroen one anywhere on the car) come styling revisions such as a gapping grille with a polished-chrome surround, revised front bumper and new-look xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights.

The car’s suspension has also been raised, making it easier to get in and out of and, once you’re in the driver’s seat, you’re treated to one of the most distinctive dashboard designs in any car at this price. It now comes with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard.

The DS5 is offered as a diesel-electric hybrid and with a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine. However, reviewers recommend one of the three BlueHDi diesels in 118, 147 or 178hp forms – all of which are very cheap to run.

With DS aiming to compete with the big German brands, it’s given the 5 generous levels of equipment – all cars come with keyless entry, rear parking sensors and sat-nav.

Cheapest to buy: 1.6-litre 120 Elegance diesel

Cheapest to run: Prestige diesel-electric Hybrid4

Fastest model: 2.0-litre 180 Prestige diesel

Most popular model: 1.6-litre 120 Elegance diesel

While the DS 5 lacks the minimalist design of the German saloons it hopes to beat, its interior is distinctive and well made.

The dashboard slopes towards the driver and features large dials for controlling the climate control, while the centre console between the front seats has ‘shark tooth’ style switches. The relatively small windscreen is deliberately meant to make the driver feel enclosed, for a cockpit feel, but two glass panels in the roof allow more light into the interior.

The seven-inch touchscreen not only comes as standard with sat-nav, but also has a MirrorLink system that means it copies the display of your smartphone and is compatible with Apple and Android apps.

Citroen DS 5 passenger space

The five-door DS 5 is very easy to get into thanks to its raised ride height and front-seat passengers will find there is plenty of leg, head and elbowroom. Unfortunately, adults in the back will feel squeezed for space, with six-footers finding legroom tight if there’s someone of a similar size in the front. Headroom in the rear also falls behind models such as the Audi A4.

Citroen DS 5 boot space

Although on paper the DS 5’s boot is smaller than you’ll find in its main rivals, the car’s hatchback boot means it can swallow bulkier items than its 465-litre capacity suggests.

One of the main criticisms of the old Citroen DS5 was its uncomfortable ride, but it’s been vastly improved in the rebadged car. Its suspension has been raised and gets a new set up that deals much better with the UK’s bumpy roads.

In fact, comfort is one of the DS’ strongpoints and all models come with acoustic side windows that have been designed to stop noise getting into the cabin. As a result, the DS’ interior is extremely quiet at motorway speeds, with little road, wind or engine noise.

The steering offers enough feel to let you tackle fast A-road corners confidently at speed, but the car’s raised height means the body does lean in curves, making it feel quite like an SUV to drive.

The steering’s weight makes the car feel stable on the motorway, but it’s a little too heavy for quick manoeuvring in town. Standard rear parking sensors make it relatively easy to reverse into tight spaces. Top-of-the-range models come complete with a rear-facing camera that makes reversing even easier.

The standard six-speed manual gearbox is slick and easy to use.

While fuel economy of 72.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 102g/km (for road tax of just £20/$30 a year) mean the entry-level 118hp 1.6-litre diesel is very cheap to run, we would spend a little extra money on the 148hp 2.0-litre model.

It knocks the car’s 0-62mph time down from 12.7 to 10.9 seconds and it feels much quicker as a result, especially when it comes to completing safe overtakes on fast A-roads. It is also the quietest of all the diesels, while fuel economy remains good at 68.9mpg and it costs the same to tax as the smaller engine.

If you want a diesel with an automatic gearbox then you’ll have to choose the 178hp 2.0-litre. The gearbox’s shifts are usually smooth, but bursts of acceleration at slow speeds can result in jerky progress. The auto gearbox doesn’t restrict performance or raise running costs too much and 178hp model gets from 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds, while returning fuel economy of 64.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 114g/km for road tax of £30/$45 annually.

Reviewers have yet to drive the 163hp, 1.6-litre petrol, but its high running costs are likely to put most people off. The 197hp diesel-electric Hybrid is pricy to buy and not much cheaper to run than the diesels, although it does come with grippy four-wheel drive.

Although the DS 5 hasn’t been crash tested yet, the old Citroen DS5 on which it is based was rewarded five stars when it was assessed by Euro NCAP back in 2011.

All models come with electronic stability control, traction control,airbags and two ISOFIX child seat mounts on the back seats. Top-of-the-range Prestige models also come with a blind-spot-warning system and eTouch, which can alert the emergency service when the car is involved in an accident.

Basic DS 5 Elegance models come equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, automatic lights and wipers, rear parking sensors and sat-nav. Spending extra on the top-of-the-range Prestige model gets you bigger, 18-inch alloy wheels, electrically adjustable front seats and a reversing camera that makes parking the car much easier.

There is also an extensive options list to plunder, allowing you to add items such as a leather interior (£1,090/$1,635), huge 19-inch alloy wheels (£425/$637) and premium Denon sound system (£500/$750).


The DS 5’s improved suspension comfort means choosing it no longer comes with the penalty of a stiff ride. Although it still isn’t as fun to drive as a BMW 3 Series, the car’s improved suspension, along with its whisper-quiet interior makes the DS an extremely good motorway cruiser.

Stick to the basic Elegance trim combined with the 148hp diesel engine and the DS 5 is well-equipped for the money, quick enough for most people’s needs, and cheap to run.


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