Citroen DS5 Hybrid4

200 Airdream

Citroen DS5
Citroen DS5, rear
Citroen DS5, side
Citroen DS5, front
Citroen DS5 Hybrid4
Citroen DS5
Citroen DS5, interior

YOU could be forgiven for thinking that Citroen - the maker of such iconic models as the whale-mouthed DS of the Fifties and the technologically brilliant Traction Avant two decades before - had gone a bit staid with advancing years.

After all, the C4 and C5 did their best to imitate the conventional and replicate bread-and-butter saloons churned out by Japan and Germany.

But rest assured, individuality and even Gallic quirkiness is alive and thriving in the shape of latest breed of Citroens - the current DS range, and in particularly the DS5 Hybrid4 which I've just been driving.

Not only does it look strikingly different with swoopy, high-waisted styling in the mode of a sporty SUV, but the workings are pretty radical too.

Power comes from a 163bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine mated to an electric motor, so you end up with a useful 200 or so horsepower.

The ‘marriage' produces a five-door which is capable of 131mph and 8.3 seconds to 62mph, yet it clocks up just 91g/km which means it's clean as a whistle and attracts zero tax.

On paper, the economy appears phenomenal with an official combined figure of 74.3mpg. A more realistic result, though, is about two-thirds of that.

My average worked out at 46mpg, which is still remarkably good for a swift family hatchback.

When the going gets rough, there's a four-wheel-drive option to ease your passage.

Step inside the DS5, and it continues to surprise. There's an amazing glass sunroof which is split into three sections with a central ‘beam' making the driver feel he's in something from Star Trek.

A wide console sprinkled with loads of switches and the automatic gearshift lever separates driver and passenger.

It takes some time to find your way around the controls, but the quality of the mouldings and the overall fit is excellent. Housed in the roof are a couple of sunglasses holders, too.

At 4.5 metres long, it's a reasonably large car and space in the front  generous, and that in the rear is acceptable, but the boot with its high ledge can only carry 325 litres of luggage with the parcel shelf in place - that's only a bit more than a Fiesta.

The 1,997cc four cylinder diesel has that familiar low-speed rumble which rather detracts from the general air of refinement, but it performs well enough with plenty of torque.

The steering is nice and sharp with plenty of feedback while the suspension is largely roll-free - unlike Citroens of old. The ride is good over well-made roads but ripples and pot-holes tend to disturb its composure more than most.

The Hybrid4 200 Airdream - price £32,700 - comes with all the bells and whistles. Standard trimmings include dual zone digital air con, keyless access, glass sunroof,  electric memory driver's seat, sat nav, parking sensors and rear view camera.

The latter two fitments are pretty useful because rear visibility through the relatively shallow window can be tricky. The car looked the business and attracted considerable attention wherever it was parked.

The DS5 recaptures much of the magic that marked Citroen out from the herd decades ago. It is very much a model for individuals and a courageous step that should be applauded in these days of conformity.

FAST FACTS

Citroen DS5 Hybrid4 200 Airdream

Price: £32,700

Mechanical: 200bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl hybrid engine driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 131mph

0-62mph: 8.3 seconds

Combined MPG: 74.3

Insurance Group: 28

C02 emissions: 91g/km

Bik rating: 10%

Warranty:  3yrs/unlimited miles

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