Citroën DS5 2.0 HDI 160 DSport
Price: £29,500 Fuel: 46.3mpg CO2: 158g/km
With DS5 launching Hybrid4 into the Citroën range, it’s easy to forget that this luxurious, aviation-inspired French saloon is also rather good with its more conventional 2.0-litre diesel engine. This is where Citroën sees the volume of UK sales heading – to a core of long-legged powertrains ideal for soaking up miles.
Some of the decision process is based around educating drivers on new technology. Hybrid4 will offer its biggest running cost advantages for urban drivers, who can make the most use of its electric drive. Most fleets will deploy the DS5 for long-distance cruising, speeds at which a conventional diesel engine will return similar fuel efficiency to its more technologically advanced sibling.
There’s also no loss of performance here. Hybrid4 adds around 150kg to the already substantial DS5, and that eats away at its power advantage. Although it’s 40bhp down on the most powerful car in its range, the 2.0 HDI 160 feels no slower. Plus it gains a considerably deeper boot.
Nor do you lose much of the character of this eccentric cruiser. The banks of toggle switches above and below the driver, steeply raked windscreen and soft-touch, aluminium-embellished dashboard are only a rotary hybrid drive mode selector short of a full set. Even the horizon line on the rev counter, a nod to its aviation inspiration, is still present.
Those wanting an injection of French flair will love it, and the quality is almost on par with the best of the German executive sector. But it does let itself down a little by following the Germans’ lead on ride quality. DS5 has a tendency to crash over bumps in a very un-Citroën like manner, though it offsets some of that by being very stable at high speeds.
The automatic gearbox is a conventional one, not the lethargic electronically-controlled manual found on e-HDI and Hybrid4 versions. So it’s smooth, if not as quick as some of the newest dual-clutch units, and suits the upmarket feel. But this is a heavy car, and with the automatic gearbox it’s not particularly frugal either, usually returning a few mpg under its claimed 46.3mpg.
DS5 isn’t the most practical or efficient car in its class, but it almost doesn’t have to be. The feeling of being wrapped in something this solid, futuristic and intricately designed makes it a pleasure to drive, and really the only dealbreaker could be the lack of an upmarket ride to go with it.