Citroen DS5


Debut: 2011
Maker: Citroen
Predecessor: No



 Published on 19 Nov 2011
All rights reserved. 


It all started from DS3 two years ago. Citroen got tired of building cut-price bread-and-butter cars and decided to invade the premium car segments long occupied by German manufacturers. The concept of DS3 is not much different from what Mini and Fiat 500 already demonstrated – it offered a funkier styling, better quality materials, a highly customizable interior and a sporty tuning so that it could ask for more money. The first attempt was successful, with 130,000 DS3s sold in just over a year. But the larger members of the DS range are unlikely to be as easy. Having left the supermini segment, they have to face the superior offerings from Audi and BMW (as well as high-spec Volkswagens). Chances of success are slim. The only way to avoid direct competition with the German is to be different. Consequently, we saw the odd hatchback-coupe-SUV crossover DS4 earlier this year. Unfortunately, we found it not as satisfying as the smaller DS. Its concept was probably right, but the execution was below standard and the car leaves many things to be desired.

Anyway, we are willing to give Citroen a second chance. The new DS5 is the third and – at least according to current plan – the last member of the DS line. Its success or not will seal our conclusion on the DS line revival.

Before going into the details, we have to ask a fundamental question: what exactly is the DS5 ? Its name and its looks might suggest it was a premium MPV version of the C5 saloon. How wrong that is ! The DS5 is neither an MPV nor a derivative of C5. It is actually a large, high-riding premium hatchback with some sporty flavours. It is not built on the C5 / 508 platform, but the stretched version of PSA's BVH2 platform that underpins the smaller C4, DS4 and 3008. This decision is strange, because the car is actually positioned higher than C5 on the price list. Bear in mind that the family hatch platform comes with an unsophisticated torsion-beam rear suspension, a clear disadvantage compare with the C5's multi-link geometry and Hydractive system. We'll know what this mean later on, but to Citroen the immediate effect is lower production cost. The money saved is invested back into the car to improve its materials and build quality, boosting its showroom appeal. It also makes possible to share the 3008's Hybrid 4 powertrain. The latter actually gives it a psychological edge over its German rivals. From this view, the use of BVH2 platform might make sense.



Yes, the DS5 does have very strong showroom appeal. It is aggressive yet futuristic, something you can't imagine achievable on a car of this type. British designer Andrew Cowell gave it plenty of smart features, such as a Mercedes CLS-inspired profile (see that swoopy roof line and banana-shape side glass), hidden rear pillars, stylish head and tail lights, C-shape front side intakes, pentagonal exhaust pipes and its signature, i.e. a chromed "saber" running from the nose to the front quarter window. It looks really special, more so than DS4 and DS3. With its presence, BMW 3-series and Audi A4 suddenly look dull and ordinary.

The DS5 has its wheelbase stretched to 2727 mm, some 115 mm longer than DS4. It is also 255 mm longer overall, 51 mm wider and slightly lower, so it has a sportier profile. However, interior space is a little disappointing. As you sit higher than conventional cars (40 mm higher than C5), headroom at the driver seat cannot be described as generous, something you won't expect on a car so tall. Rear seat headroom could be tight for six-footers, blame to the falling roof line. Meanwhile, the broad shoulders and thick doors rob the cabin of considerable width, so it won't be great to sit 3 adults at the back. Having said that, forget its MPV profile and recalibrate it with the norm of BMW 3-series, you will find the space offered here is competitive.



However, the highlight of this cabin is not space but style and quality. The sense of class is obvious from the stylish leather seats and leather upholstery on the dash, armrest and steering wheel. The instrument display is a high quality one, ditto the head-up display and switchgears. The door's grab handles are even made of real aluminum by the same supplier to Aston Martin. The whole dashboard, not just the upper half, is made of soft-touch plastics. The same goes for the door panels and just about any touchable surfaces. Just like the exterior, the cabin is high on style. The panoramic glass roof is split by a central tunnel which houses some cool-looking switches, just like aircraft cockpit. The prominent transmission tunnel separates the driver from the passenger and is decorated with stylish bright metal works. In short, this place matches the high standard of Audi.

Style and visual quality are definitely the highlights of DS5. What about the mechanicals? In terms of powertrains, it is quite satisfying. You won't find very powerful engines as in BMW and Audi, but the engines it offers are well judged and should cover 90 percent of the market – after all, very few customers actually purchase the most powerful 335i or A4 3.2 V6. The trend towards socially responsible motoring also helps PSA, as its strength has always been small turbo diesel motors. The 163 hp 2.0HDI loses nothing to German opponents. It is refined, torquey and economical. The 155hp 1.6THP direct-injected petrol turbo is also a match to small German motors, because it is originally developed by BMW. The 200 horsepower version of the same motor comes directly from DS3 Racing. Citroen's specific tuning supplements its useful performance with a sporty howl at wide open throttle. It gets from rest to 60 mph in less than 8 seconds and is capable to top 146 mph. Most motorists should be satisfied. Gearchange from the 6-speed manual is slick and quick.


And then at the top is the Hybrid 4. In our Peugeot 3008 Hybrid 4 report we have already detailed its principles and mechanical construction. The version on Citroen is virtually the same. Its power comes primarily from the 163 hp 2.0 HDI engine, which drives the front wheels as usual. At the back, a 37hp / 147 lbft electric motor drives the rear wheels directly without any mechanical connection (save the road surface) to the diesel powertrain. It is supplied by a NiMH battery. All the hybrid components are mounted near the rear axle so that the system is easily transplantable. The Hybrid 4 is not as quick as the 200 hp 1.6 turbo, because it carries a lot more weight and its electric boost is not sustainable. However, the electric boost does make it feels brisk off the line, and the lack of noise at low speed feels remarkably refined and Sci-Fi like. Moreover, CO2 emission is reduced to only 99 g/km.

For a tall, high-riding luxury car made by a French manufacturer, you might expect a clumsy handling and lots of body motion in corners. Contrary to prediction, the DS5 is quite sporty in the way it suppresses body roll and understeer. This must thanks to its wide tracks and stiff suspension setup. The strong grip from aggressive 235/40R19 rubbers and strong braking also impress. Still, the handling is more competent than entertaining, because the steering feels numb (despite of electro-hydraulic assistance) and the chassis lacks throttle adjustability. An adverse effect of the stiff legs and waffle-thin tires is a poor ride. On anything less than smooth surfaces, the DS5 feels fidget. Bigger bumps and potholes send unacceptable shocks into the cabin. This contradicts to the sophisticated environment or the excellent wind noise suppression. Things might get a little better with 16 or 17-inch wheels, but they fail to fill the large wheel wells enough for the best visual effect. Undoubtedly, ride quality is the biggest problem of this car.


Should Citroen had adopted a more sophisticated rear suspension from the outset, the problem could have been largely relieved, if not completely eliminated. The Hybrid 4 is the only DS5 riding on fully independent multi-link rear axle, because the regular car's torsion-beam suspension fails to accommodate the additional rear-drive components. It does deliver a better ride than lesser models. Anyway, those expecting a magic-carpet ride of traditional French luxury cars will be disappointed. As we have mentioned before, the lack of Hydractive suspension does not favour the DS5.

As a result, the DS5 could split opinions. On the one hand, its styling turns heads and its quality packaging feels highly desirable. On the other hand, its handling is dull and its ride is flawed. If you regularly drive on poorly surfaced roads, this car should be eliminated from your radar. Otherwise, it could be a desirable purchase. It is so different from other cars on the market, and the guts to be different are always highly honored here in AutoZine.
Verdict:
 Published on 25 May 2015
All rights reserved. 
DS5 facelift 2015


Following the new strategy to spin off the DS line as a separate premium brand, the 2015 facelifted DS5 is no longer a Citroen officially. Normally I don't care about badges, but having seen the new DS logo at its nose, I think Citroen has underestimated the aesthetic brought by the old double-chevron logo. The new logo actually makes it less special. Moreover, I think the facelift is rather counterproductive. It makes the front grille thinner thus visually pushes it upward, making the high bonnet looks even higher. As a result, the facelifted car appears to be bulkier and more like a minivan. Fortunately, the original DS5 has plenty of style for expense. Turn to the sides and rear and you will still find a stylish crossover.

PSA said the interior is also updated, but it is so subtle that you need to compare with the old car to notice the differences. This is still a stylish and luxury design, supported with adequate materials and switchgears. The chunky transmission tunnel and center console is still a highlight, but the 7-inch touchscreen looks too small in comparison.

To meet the requirement of EU6 emission regs, most engines have been updated slightly. The 1.6 HDI now produces 120 instead of 115 hp. The high-power version of 2.0 HDI makes 180 instead of 163 hp. 1.6 THP petrol remains but its output is improved slightly from 156 to 165 hp, just like what we can find on other PSA vehicles recently. At the end of this year the high-power version of 1.6 THP will have its output lifted from 200 to 210 hp. Hybrid4 is the only unchanged powertrain, as it is still a niche and rare choice. On the transmission side, good news is the notorious robotic manual is finally replaced with an Aisin 6-speed automatic.

All these changes are "stop-gap" at best. However, the most important improvement brought by the facelift is revised suspension setup. The old car had always been criticized for a crashy ride. To address this, PSA increased its suspension travel a little and fitted new dampers to the suspensions. These dampers employ longer compression stroke and preloaded linear valving to enable smoother transition of damping force. The result? The ride is a lot smoother. Bumps and potholes are much better dealt with. Although it is still far from magic carpet, the ride quality is no longer an issue to stop people buying this car. Meanwhile, this improvement does not come at the expense of body control.

That said, the DS5 no longer catches my heart with its new front end design and badge. Now judging with heads instead of hearts, we can see more of its flaws, such as tight rear seats, overweight and lack of driver appeal compared with a conventional hatchback.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power


Max torque


Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
DS5 2.0HDi
2011
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4530 / 1871 / 1508 mm
2727 mm
Inline-4, diesel
1997 cc
DOHC 16 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
163 hp


251 lbft


6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
215/60VR16
1530 kg
123 mph (c)
8.3 (c) / 9.1*
26.5*
DS5 1.6THP 200
2011
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4530 / 1871 / 1508 mm
2727 mm
Inline-4
1598 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
200 hp


203 lbft


6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
235/40VR19
1430 kg
146 mph (c)
7.7 (c)
-
DS5 Hybrid 4
2011
Front-engined, e-4WD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4530 / 1871 / 1508 mm
2727 mm
Inline-4, diesel + electric motor
1997 cc
DOHC 16 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
Engine: 163 hp
Motor: 37 hp
Combined: 200 hp
Engine: 221 lbft
Motor: 147 lbft
Combined: 369 lbft
6-speed automated manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
225/50VR17
1660 kg
131 mph (c)
8.1 (c)
-




Performance tested by: *Autocar





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
DS5 1.6THP 165
2015
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4530 / 1871 / 1505 mm
2727 mm
Inline-4
1598 cc
DOHC 16 valves, VVT
Turbo
DI
165 hp
177 lbft
6-speed automatic
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
225/50R17
1429 kg
126 mph (c)
8.9 (c)
-
DS5 2.0HDi 180
2015
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4530 / 1871 / 1505 mm
2727 mm
Inline-4, diesel
1997 cc
DOHC 16 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
180 hp
295 lbft
6-speed automatic
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
225/50R17
1540 kg
137 mph (c)
8.7 (c)
-



























Performance tested by: -





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