Just to state the obvious to begin with; the Citroen DS5 looks sensational, writes Damien O’Carroll. Everything about it looks like a modern Citroen should -- avant grade, sexy and highly stylised -- and the chrome strips that stretch from the headlights to the A-pillar are particularly brilliant. It is unmistakably a Citroen, but it is also fresh, modern and interesting. Where the likes of the DS4 has a few odd packaging quirks as a result of its styling, the DS5 makes no such demands, and is as slickly excellent on the inside as it is on the outside. The magnificent interior is beautifully designed and of a very high quality. The interior of the DS5 looks and feels like a luxury jet fighter and everything you touch feels gorgeous and very well made. The seats are brilliantly comfortable, very adjustable and also offer great support. In fact, the whole interior design and layout is inspired French genius. Unfortunately, the genius lies only in the design, because the actual positioning of the buttons and controls is utterly mental. Nothing really seems to be where it should logically be. In fact, logic doesn’t seem to have been an important consideration at all, just aesthetics… Still, it is magnificently comfortable and fantastic to look at and touch. You just need to think of the least-likely place for any button to be and you should find it okay. Should. The DS4’s seemingly tiny 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol is surprisingly strong and propels the DS5 along at a very respectable rate, although it does run out of puff on larger hills. The five-speed automatic transmission is a decent enough unit, with smooth shifts, but unfortunately it has been programmed by a Frenchman. It holds onto second forever, then when you least expect it to, it will quickly skip through third and settle on fourth. It is reluctant to change down under anything other than full throttle and sometimes acts like it has a mind of its own. On the road the DS5 is surprisingly adept at going around corners. While it isn’t a sports car, it takes corners with a relaxed, competent attitude, without ever really needing to bother the stability control, even in the wet. The ride quality, however, is a mixed bag. Around town it is fine, with a hint of firmness that can become brittle over broken surfaces. Generally this isn’t an annoyance, as it is fairly minor. Normally you would expect it to settle down at open road speeds, but unfortunately it becomes worse. Brittle and jiggly, the ride quality over an average New Zealand road is less than impressive, especially from a Citroen. Added to this is the fact that the steering is utterly mute and feels like it is attached to the wheels by a series of rubber bands and offered absolutely no hint of what is happening down there. While the DS5 looks magnificent inside and out, its inconsistent ride quality, dead steering, and mental transmission let it down. Around town most of these problems are not a terribly big issue (the trans is still strange) and even out on the motorway or a main road the DS5 would still provide a very satisfying mode of transport. Tackle something a bit more off the beaten track, and the shortcomings quickly become apparent, with the ride quality deteriorating and the utter lack of steering feel. Still, that said, after spending a week with the DS5, I actually found myself being won over by its good points, despite how glaring its poor points were. The DS5 is an immensely likeable car and a thoroughly gorgeous place to spend time. Just as long as you have a high tolerance for illogical controls, strange transmission behaviour and dead steering.
Body type Five-door hatchback Drive Front wheels Engine type Four-cylinder turbo petrol Engine capacity 1,598cc Max power 115kW/6,000rpm Max torque 240Nm/1,400rpm Fuel consumption 7.3L/100km C02 emissions 169g/km 0 to 100km/h 9.7secs Front suspension McPherson struts Rear suspension Independent, coils Roof rack ABS brakes Yes Air bags Six ESP Yes Air conditioning Yes Lap/diagonal belts Five Satellite navigation No
Electric seats No Burglar alarm Yes Panic button No
Boot release On key Boot capacity 549 litres