By Stewart Smith on 2011-10-16 - Stewart was the former motoring editor of the Coventry Telegraph and is now a freelance contributor to Eurekar. He is based in Scotland and specialises in First Drive reviews.
Germans with DS5
GERMAN car giants BMW, Audi and Mercedes have always been regarded as top notch makers of premium executive cars and the French have on occasions tried to muscle into this sector, but with limited success.
Yet this time, just maybe, Citroen can justifiably hold its own against the Teutonic trio with its excellent new DS5, the latest in the up-market DS range.
With the DS5 Citroen has produced an innovative, space-age styled motor which at first glance looks like something you'd see on a motor show stand as a concept car.
But this is a production model which will be on sale in the UK early next year with a starting price of £23,000.
The styling of the DS5 has the wow factor in spades with sweeping, sensuous lines including chrome "sabres" that run from tips of the headlamps to the front windows, pronounced front air intakes, chrome grille, LED headlights and low side air inlets that Citroen describes as gills which help to enhance its aerodynamics.
To the rear the DS5 sits squarely on a wide track and its chrome-finished twin exhausts and light clusters add to its quirky presence.
The inside of the new Citroen is just as adventurous, with a design Citroen says is inspired by the world of aviation. An overhead console houses switchgear and the wrap-around cockpit-style dashboard continue the aircraft theme.
Seating and panels are covered in excellent quality leather, the seats having a watch-strap pattern. High quality chrome and brushed metal inserts add to the quality look of the interior which is well fitted out with several cubby holes and storage space.
The higher than average driving position is good, offering excellent all-round vision, but room is the back is a bit disappointing. If you are six-feet plus your head will brush the roof lining and foot space under the seats in front is tight.
On a twisty mountain route, the DS5 was agile and easy to control. Steering is nicely weighted, there is very little roll on tight bends and braking was firm and responsive.
The DS5 is executive transport and on motorways or main roads it will come into its own.
It's the kind of car which is ideally suited to long distance travel. I'd expect to feel pretty fresh even after a couple of hundred miles. Road, wind and engine noise are well subdued.
The will be available from launch with a choice of four engines: the petrol THP 200 bhp, diesel eHDi 110 bhp, HDi 160 bhp and the new 200 bhp diesel electric Hybrid4.
Citroen, like many car makers, is offering a hybrid which automatically switches between the diesel engine and the electric motor to optimise fuel consumption.
When travelling at less than 37.5 mph it only uses the electric engine and if driving slowly in deep snow, mud or sand the vehicle switches into four-wheel drive with the front wheels powered by the diesel engine and the rear wheels by the electric engine.
All power plants are mated to either manual, automatic or Citroen's elctronic EGS six-speed gearboxes.
As you'd expect, this premium model comes with a wealth of safety and driving aids as standard including a reversing camera, lane departure warning system, keyless access and start, a comprehensive rage of audio and navigation systems and a head-up display.
Citroen in the UK says the Hybrid, which will be exempt from road tax, will make up around 10 per cent of sales with the most popular model forecast to be the HDi 160 DStyle manual which is expected to cost £26,000.
The DS5, the third in the DS line-up, will be up against stiff opposition, but if you are looking for a distinctive new model with outstanding futuristic styling which will stand out from the crowd, plus quality build and finish, the DS5 is well worth considering.
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