DS5 Blue HDi

Citroenís upmarket attempt at beating Audi

PETER ROBINSON

FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE

THIS is not a Citroen. You wonít find the Citroen nameplate or the famous double chevrons on the new DS5. Itís the first model to be sold as a DS, PSAís new, third brand positioned above Citroen and Peugeot.

DS executives acknowledge that establishing a premium brand aimed at Audi is going to take much time and much money. More, it admits, than a facelifted version of an old Citroen model with a large chrome grille, swivelling LED headlights and a new name, which is what the new DS5 represents.

The dramatically styled DS5 mixes elements of a high-roof hatchback, or station wagon, with a coupe profile, so itís a real crossover and, true to French form, utterly unconventional without any obvious rivals.

The interior is just as imaginative and feels expensive with clever use of materials and design details, and loads of equipment. The facelift brings a new touchscreen that takes care of so many controls there are 12 fewer buttons. Excellent seats do their best to disguise the suspensionís failings.

One shortcoming of the concept car styling is poor visibility, especially to the rear with its shallow screen and thick pillars.

When the DS5 arrives early next year, there will be just one version, with the upgraded 133kW Blue HDi turbo-diesel engine, attached to PSAís brilliant new EAT6 six-speed automatic thatís sourced from Aisin.

Performance is acceptable Ė 0-100km/h takes 9.2 seconds Ė economy exceptional and refinement superb when cruising.

At suburban speeds, though, there is no denying itís a diesel.

According to the hype, the three main prongs of the DS brand are design, comfort and technology.

The DS5 passes on design and technology, but fails on comfort. It doesnít help that itís based on the same ageing platform as the DS4, Citroen C4 and Peugeot 3008, and not the C5. That means a torsion beam axle rather than a multilink rear suspension, let alone Citroenís Hydractive suspension.

You can forget about the soft cushioning ride of previous big Citroens; the DS5 is fidgety and overly firm, despite new dampers that are claimed to significantly improve the ride quality. Massive 235/45R18 Michelins donít help the cause.

Steering thatís quick and delivers old-fashioned feel as the front end begins to push is welcome, however.

DS management knows the DS5 is an interim model until genuinely new (and more refined) DS cars arrive in 2018. Somehow, despite its obvious limitations, the DS5ís very uniqueness still makes it desirable. mfort.

PLUS & MINUS

Restless ride; vocal diesel; restricted rear headroom and visibility Uniquely Citroen-esque styling; strangely desirable; equipment

Fuelled on premium

DS is Peugeot-Citroenís stand-alone premium brand, specifically targeted at Audi. PSA admits it needs the profits generated by a premium brand if it is to survive. DS plans to have six global models by 2020: the replacements for todayís DS3, DS4 and DS5, plus two SUVs and a DS9 sedan.

Australiaís Citroen dealers will offer dedicated DS areas in their showrooms with a brand launch in early 2016 built around the facelifted DS5, DS4 and DS3. Rather than bespoke platforms, DS will rely on unique styling, advanced technologies and personalisation to compete. stand premiumbrand