The new Citroen DS5 Hybrid

The DS5 is widely regarded as being the most innovative car that Citroën have produced since the ’70s.

This is a beautiful fiver seater family car that could easily be the lovechild of an estate and an MPV, and it also has the benefit of the unique Peugeot-Citroën’s unique hybrid/diesel/ power train.

The resulting motor should be a hatchback that turns a decent pace, has ridiculously low fuel consumption, running costs and CO2 emissions. It should also carry a desirability that has been lacking at Citroën since glory days of the GS and the SM. This is a review of the DS5 that, when it goes on sale in the UK this month, will carry a starting price of about £23,000.

The DS5 is the 3rd model to join the new Citroën DS range, which takes it form by underpinning a Citroën and grafting on a new and distinctive bodyshell in order to attract a different kind customer. Back in 2010, the Citroën C3 supermini spawned the DS3, the so called ‘hot hatch’, and in 2011 the C4 sired the souped up, but rather unremarkable DS4.

Now we have the DS5; rolling along on an upgraded version of the C4’s PF2 platform This car is significantly shorter than the C5, but is nearly as wide and only 52mm taller. This loosely translated into a stout, 2 box car that is beautifully proportioned. Most will have forgotten that the general design of the DS5 first made an appearance as a concept car back in 2005; the C-Sportlounge.

Just 2 years later, the Citroën bosses gave the upmarket DS range the green light, blew the cobwebs of the dormant concept of the C-Sportlounge, and it began its journey to the production line. Many of the most eye catching details survived this journey to take their place on the DS5; coupe like glasshouse, chrome blades running from B pillar to headlamp, stepped window line, quadrilateral tailpipes and boomerang rear lamps.

The DS5 is motion is a captivating sight to behold, and many reviewers and experts were blown away when they were used as shuttle cars at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show. This car can be described as a top end choc ice, it is every bit as good under the shell. To start with, you get the best of both worlds with the driving position; although its raised up so you get a view of the road akin to a SUV, it feels as if you are sitting low as in a sports car.

Citroën is no longer the dirty word it had become where build quality and materials are concerned, and the leather seats within the top spec Sport Hybrid4, which costs around £33k, are the last word in divine luxury. The leather inserts interlock like in a watch strap, and if you look overhead you will see the first class execution of overhead features akin to an plane; switches, twin sun blinds and cubbyhole.

The boot space is, not surprisingly, drastically reduced by the battery pack, reducing it to 325L, as opposed to the 468L you get with the regular engine DS5. The folding back seats afford more space to store the likes of mountain bikes etc, but there is an annoying design flaw in that, apart from a button on the key fob, there is no external boot release. Insiders have said, however, that there is a quick fix to this on its way.

Fully charged, the DS5 offers 2.5 miles of silent driving at a steady 37mph, making it more than likely that the DS5 will change from this mode into auto very quickly, and the diesel engine will chatter into action. The integration between the two power modes is smooth, and the DS5 also automatically switched back to its EV power should the urban pace drop significantly enough.

Overall, some will think that the DS5 is a triumph of style over substance, given how fantastic it looks. It will certainly appeal to those tech junkies who want to experience for themselves the unique and smooth electric/diesel powertrain, or to drivers of company cars attracted by its exemplary economy figures. Passionate drivers will, however, more than likely find it an underwhelming drive, and it is this group it needs to win over.