After some days behind the wheel of the very able DS4, and keen as we were to test the new automatic transmission, we got thanks to the dynamic PR department of Citroën Belux our hands on a stunning deep "Whisper"bordeaux/black coloured DS5 with a 2 litre 181 HP Diesel engine, mated to the new 6 speed automatic gearbox. The DS5 has received a recent facelift with new front end design, but besides these cosmetic changes the DS5 we drove corresponds largely to the new version, which is not yet on sale at the moment of writing. Of course when the new DS5 is available, we will drive it for you…
To give it right away, this DS5 truly embodies the pinnacle of DS "esprit", with refinement, performance, comfort and a dramatically futuristic ambiente. Like with the original DS, one feels transported into a new era, in a car which is so truly modern and unique.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Superb cabin styling
Stepping into the sleek DS5 cockpit, one actually seems entering the future automotive age. The dashboard seems to wrap around you and your passenger, your eyes enjoy the fluent lines, the stylish commands on the centre console and in the roof centre, and your hands slide over the fine leather of the futuristic steering wheel. Despite all this futuristic ambiente, one instantly finds its way.
The elegant gear lever of the autobox falls in your hand, the familiar knobs and commands for cruise control and infotainment are found back on the steering wheel.
The DS5 offers a delightful listening experience, with its Denon audio system installed in our test car. Sound quality is superb, and yes, the DS designers found it useful to keep a CD player in the car, and of course, we enjoyed it to the full.
We could play our favourite Mahler, Mozart and Mendelssohn tracks, chamber music and also orchestral music, like for example the 'adagio religioso' of Mendelssohn's second symphony, op 52, 'Lobgesang', where the violins and whole symphony orchestra are rendered masterfully.
Try also Vivaldi's 'Concerto Grosso' Op 8 no 6 "il Piacere" to find out how well the speakers render the baroque violin music... What a joy!
We liked very much the design of the dashboard, the styling of handles, commands and knobs. It translates so well the DS spirit. Also the feel of the knobs and handles in polished aluminium is a pleasure. The futuristic steering wheel lies nicely in your hand, and as we said before, we just love the shape, and the nice judicious interplay between the polished aluminium inlays and the leather covered rim.
We were also charmed by some design details like the somewhat "retro" rectangular shape of the clock, reminiscent of the original, quite traditional looking clock in the first DS models, which seemed to have been installed then almost as an afterthought, and contrasted with the futuristic dashboard.
I vividly remember this, as I sat as a young boy in the white DS 19 of my aunt, the sister of my father, in 1956, watching her driving on the Dutch 'autobanen' at a speed of some good 140 kph, as my aunt appreciated very much the road qualities of her DS, sitting in the back in the middle of the azure blue rear bench, which I found marvellously soft and comfortable.
Smitten as I was with the awesome qualities of this car, I was amazed it had such a somewhat outdated clock, which did not suit the rest of the car. It is a nice touch of the designers that they have hinted at this typical DS design quirk by putting in a classic looking rectangular clock.
After you have pushed the starting knob, you just put in 'D'. Smoothly, the DS5 starts away. The new dual clutch transmission changes up almost imperceptibly, choosing of course the ideal gears according to your driving style, and perfectly matching the (massive) torque characteristics of the engine.
As the transmission is always alert and far more clever than your servant in choosing the gearchange points, we left it well alone in 'D'. When in a sporting mood, you can push the 'S' button, and the box will choose higher rev ranges. There is also a mode for winter driving and/or driving on slippery surfaces.
The level of refinement we found in the DS4 is taken quite a bit further in the DS5. The bigger body makes it of course easier to filter out any engine vibrations, and indeed, even when pulling from low revs, any vibrations from the two litre four cylinder Diesel are now completely absent.
Engine noise is also well insulated, and the engine is virtually inaudible in all driving circumstances. Road and wind noise are also well suppressed, and this means that you can enjoy divine conversations and/or divine music.
Maintaining the chosen path with divine hand...
When it comes to roadholding and handling, the DS automobiles were always in a class of their own, and the DS5 takes this to further heights. Stability is beyond reproach, the DS5 handles winding roads masterfully, with much precision, perfect balance and hardly any body roll.
This DS also irons out fully those long road undulations, and sports also new shock absorbers to increase ride comfort even further and swallow road irregularities and potholes even better. These are PLV or Preloaded Valve technology schock absorbers, which have a more linear load transfer, and therefore enhance driving comfort. The DS needs them, as the ride is still a bit on the firm side.
Of course does this DS comes very well to its own on the open road, and the Autoroutes are its true domain. When it comes to cruising over very long distances, the DS really excels. It drives completely effortlessly up to very high speeds, with unerring straight line stability.
One has to experience it to believe it, just lightly touching or rather stroking the rim of the steering wheel to keep the DS on course, even in the most violent rainstorms or crosswinds.
You can easily understand that, assisted by the excellent and very subtle and smooth cruise control, which cancels itself imperceptibly at the merest touch of the brake pedal, this DS is your ideal companion for those long motorway trips.
Braking is as can be expected, excellent, and the car remains completely stable when braking hard, also on slippery and uneven road surfaces.
When it comes to performance, the 181 HP Diesel version we tested coupled to the automatic box is certainly no sluggard. 0 to 100 is absolved in 9,2 seconds, and top speed is 220 km/h according to the manufacturer. Needless to say, that with an engine developing not less than 400 Nm of torque at 2000 rpm, accelerations are excellent at any speed.
Also with the automatic gearbox, frugality is at the rendez vous with an average consumption during our test of merely 5 litres/100 km. The manufacturer quotes 5,1 l in urban driving, and CO2 emissions are quoted to be 119 grams per km. suffice to say that after the facelift, all engines on the DS5 will be Euro 6 compliant.
Seat comfort is also of very high level, and the seats themselves are beautifully finished. Of course ther is ample legroom in the back as in the true DS tradition, understandably, "noblesse oblige".
Concept car looks...
The DS truly looks dramatically elegant from any angle, and its concept car like lines are boldly accentuated with large chromed strips. This boldness combined with the self assured contours make the DS 5 indeed a rather formidable car to look at, and indeed it stands out from the competition and will stand the test of time very well.
We already praised the cabin styling and layout, and the impeccable quality of the used materials, which definitely put the car in the upper class segment, with a unique cabin ambiente.
The DS5 puts you in another automotive age. Certainly when you step into its futuristic cabin. The whole car looks dramatic too, retaining the original fundamental DS shape, but set in a bold, concept car like design language. Its mechanical refinement is beyond reproach,
the quality of the used materials and the build quality is excellent indeed. Road behaviour is agile, considering the car's weight and size, and the masterful DS handling and stability is at the rendez-vous.
The suspension remains rather firm, but on even tarmac the car floats like a dream, and is an excellent long distance cruiser. Add to all this individuality and character the excellent economy and performance of the DS, and we can only advise you to have a long hard look at this goddess, it will certainly take you in seventh heaven!
Hans Knol ten Bensel