On the move, the improved DS5 is a huge improvement on the original Citroen-badged version of this car, primarily because its ride quality has been transformed. This is thanks to the installation of shock absorbers fitted with what the DS people call ‘PLV’ (or Pre-loaded Linear Valve’) technology which limits sudden changes in damping force. As a result, this enhanced model soaks up bumps and dips in the road far more effectively and over poor surfaces, you don’t feel the vibrations and impacts that were all too evident before.
Under the bonnet, there have also been changes, with latest generation BlueHDi diesel technology now available. There’s a 120bhp 1. 6-litre unit, plus a couple of 2. 0-litre powerplants offering either 150bhp - or 180bhp if you want your car with automatic transmission. users also get a couple of 1. 6-litre THP turbo petrol models, with either 165bhp or 210bhp. And there’s a clever Hybrid 4x4 200 variant at the top of the range that mates diesel and electric power for impressive efficiency.
Back in 1955 when the original DS was launched, those two letters were a play on the French word déesse, or ‘goddess’. They designated automotive beauty, again delivered here in a form that Citroen describe as ‘moving sculpture’ - that balance between fluidity and tension, compactness and space, efficiency, boldness and elegance. It’s all there in striking harmony across a beautifully styled design that seems to change shape depending on the angle from which you approach it.
The differences with this improved model mainly lie at the front, where the vertical grille now proudly incorporates the ‘DS Wings’ brand logo and extends smoothly into headlights that feature LED Xenon technology on plusher variants. The key styling feature though, as before, is the slender chromed sabre that rises from the tip of the headlamp to the front quarterlight window, below which a similarly angled crease takes up the theme, and the statement’s equally unique at the rear, with its wide track, potent rear diffuser and glinting twin oval-shaped quadrilateral tailpipes.
The raised ride height makes it very easy to get in, and once you do, you’ll find an interior that’s even more avant garde than the bodywork. It’s based around what the brand calls a ‘cockpit’ driving position where the main controls are grouped on two centrally-positioned consoles, one at a low level near the gear selector and one overhead. Both incorporate specially designed buttons, dials and toggle switches that the DS designers say were inspired by the aerospace industry. Everything’s based around the concept of what the DS brand calls ‘radical luxury’ and is certainly very different to the commonplace, conventional cabins you’ll find on most other cars in this price bracket.
This improved DS5 model has made huge steps forward when it comes to efficiency – or at least the volume diesel versions have. These all now feature start/stop engine systems and the PSA Group’s latest Euro6 BlueHDi technology, with the result being a set of efficiency figures improved by around 10%, enough to put this car right back on track against the best of its rivals. Take the entry-level BlueHDi 120 variant, which manages 70. 6mpg on the combined cycle and 104g/km of CO2.
Many users though, will want to take a step further up the range into the BlueHDi 150 model. In this case, the returns are much the same – 68. 9mpg on the combined cycle and 105g/km of CO2.
Here’s a car that surprised us. At first glance, this revised DS5 seems very little different to the original Citroen-badged version. Get to know it though and a much better product is revealed, equipped with properly up-to-date engines and, most significantly, a far better standard of ride.
Certainly, it isn’t perfect: handling, efficiency and some aspects of build quality still aren’t quite a match for the class leaders. But then, there’s something rather soul-less and clinical about perfection. The DS brand is about a ‘Different Spirit’. Another way that’s very sleek, very smart – and very French.