Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fire up the... Citroen DS5

IN the unlikely event I get asked to design a luxury car, the Citroen DS5 is probably not too far off what I'd come up with.

Surely what you want in a plushly trimmed motor is plenty of space, some clever gadgets, a comfy ride, and an interior which, while clearly cosseting, shows where a bit of thought's gone into it? Unfortunately, sales of luxury cars suggest you want sportiness and a blue-chip image instead. The best selling luxury car for this sort of outlay is BMW's 3-Series.

So what do you get if you're a middle management type and you plump for Paris over Munich, or Ingolstadt or Stuttgart for that matter? Well, you get the world's first diesel-hybrid system, and a clever one it is too; while a turbodiesel, in the case of the range-topper I tested one with 2.0 litres and 163bhp at its disposal, struts its stuff at the front end, an electric motor offers a helping hand by sending some eco-friendly oomph to the back wheels. Not only does it offer you the benefits of four wheel drive at this time of year, but it keeps things eco-friendly and, as far as the taxman's concerned, cheap to run too.

Yet what really grabs you with the DS5 is the interior. Fans of the smaller, strikingly good DS3 will find themselves in familiar territory, with the same attention to detail with the materials and use of colour but with the added flair of buttons in the roof, Boeing 747-style. It's also far roomier than any of its immediate executive car rivals, thanks to Citroen shunning the saloon norm and going for a sleek hatchback instead.

Admittedly, it's not got the same grin factor to its handling as the smaller DS3 but that's not what this luxury lounger's about - if you do a lot of motorway work and value comfort over thrills, I'd struggle to find another premium offering that does the job as comfortably.

Hand on heart, I couldn't recommend the range-topping DSport versions - not when it's straying close to Jag XF territory - but the mid-range DStyle, which Citroen reckon are going to be the biggest sellers, have got a lot going for them.

As published in The Champion on December 6, 2012

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