By Patrick James on 2013-03-17 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Citroen DS5 DSport
Hybrid4 200 Airdream
CITROEN says the striking styling on its big saloon is aviation inspired and you can see where this is coming from with the striking standout road presence and cockpit-style cabin on the DS5.
The firm's DS range certainly offers something a bit different in the styling department.
But that's often been the way with Citroen, a firm that majors in quirkiness.
It features prominent air-intakes, chrome grille with LED light signatures and chrome-finished details, such as the ‘sabres' that run from the tips of the headlamps to the front windows.
But there is much more than the striking styling and like its French stablemate Peugeot its models now feature the world's first hybrid diesel car that claims over 74mpg.
And with emissions of under 100g/km it is exempt from road fund licence and attracts the lowest rate of benefit in kind taxation for business users of 10 per cent.
The firm makes no secret that the DS5 is aimed squarely at business user.
It is a big vehicle, a challenger in the competitive D segment of the market taking on the likes of the VW Passat and Vauxhall Insignia, and premium executive models including the VW CC and Audi A4.
It certainly offers a combination of comfort and roominess as well as a competitive price for a car so lavishly equipped.
The cabin's cockpit roof has pilot-style overhead switches, a large glass roof, divided into three areas with individual electrically operated sunblinds, allowing occupants to control the amount of light entering the cabin both day and night.
The model I tried also feature white and black leather upholstery contrasting nicely with aluminium trim and surrounds.
It's as well to get used to the buttons and switchgear with many concentrated on the centre console. It took me ages to locate the electric window switches after fruitlessly searching on the door handles.
It is a comfortable place to be with LED lights bathing the interior with ambient lighting.
Driver, and passengers have plenty of head and legroom and the large glass areas mean visibility is excellent all round - apart from the rear window where the spoiler splits the rear window.
Luggage space is pretty good with a split level boot, but is compromised by the battery sitting underneath. In total it offers a total of 465 litres of space, adequate for most needs.
In addition, the central console has a 13-litre double compartment under the armrest with audio and USB ports for connecting and concealing mobile devices, as well as a cooled and illuminated area for drinks.
The hyrbrid diesel has a combined power output of 200bhp and four drive modes, battery only, auto, sport and four-wheel drive.
Most drivers would keep it in auto which switches to the correct combination of battery and diesel power.
For a bit more performance, choose sport and the car has real acceleration, but then forget about reaching anywhere near the claimed 72mpg. At the end of several hundred miles of driving the onboard computer was indicating just under 50mpg, but this did include a substantial amount of motorway work.
Economy can be increased with careful driving and in slow-moving traffic, the electric mode saves loads of fuel.
The engine is mated to an automated manual gearbox and at first the gearchanges seem tortuous, even with the option of gearchange paddles behind the wheel. But you soon get used to it.
On the road, the car feels pretty composed and handles well on corners, while delivering the kind of comfortable ride you would expect from a car like this.
Not a driver's car as such, but a pretty accomplished effort nevertheless.
The car scores the maximum five-star rating in the latest Euro NCAP tests and includes driver and passenger front airbags, front lateral and front and rear curtain airbags as well as traction and stability control.
There are three trim-level signatures - DSign, DStyle and DSport with even the entry level including powered windows and foldable, heated door mirrors with integrated kerb side LED puddle light and front fog lights with cornering function.
In addition there is keyless access and start, anti-theft alarm, cruise control, air conditioning with dual-zone temperature setting, rain-sensitive windscreen wipers, auto headlamp illumination and electrochrome rear view mirror.
Also featured on the test model and adding to the cockpit atmosphere is a colour heads-up display in the driver's direct line of sight. Navigation comes as standard on DStyle models.
A very accomplished car that is a real alternative to the market leaders, offering economy and value for money. And just that touch of Citroen quirkiness.
Citroen DS5 DSport Hybrid4 200 Airdream
Mechanical: 163bhp, 1,999cc, 4cyl hybrid engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 131mph
0-62mph: 8.3 seconds
Combined MPG: 74.3
Insurance Group: 29
C02 emissions: 91g/km
Bik rating: 10%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
Choose from one or more of the options to find the car for you.
Based on your search find the dealership
nearest to you.