The Citroen DS5 has THREE sunroofs – what’s that all about?

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My father’s Citroen CX famously came equipped with a self-righting steering wheel. So, if you let go coming out of a corner, the saloon would change trajectory at sphincter clenching speed.

My old man loved that motor – partly because it was quirky and very different to the countlss Ford Granadas and Vauxhall Senators clogging up the executive car park.

While I thought the rotating ball speedo was kind of cool, I’m not sure some of the oddball features of the DS5 are that necessary. The squared off steering wheel is a little too square for my liking – unlike that found in an Audi TT for example.

And why can’t the DS come equipped with a panoramic sunroof, instead of three, separate roofs? Weird.

There’s also the question of the ‘handbrake off’ alarm. If you step out of the Citroen when it is stationary on a level service, without applying the handbrake, the alarm sounds like an impending nuclear attack.

I’m not sure BMW, Audi, Mercedes drivers could cope with that. Which may not be a bad thing after all…

Wide-eyed and speechless – the Citroen DS5 is crazy frugal for a large car

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Whatever you think of the DS5 styling I can guarantee the fuel economy will leave you wide-eyed and speechless.

Now, we all know that the ‘official’ fuel economy figures for any car aren’t actually achievable in real life. But the Citroen is genuinely quite remarkable at sipping its way through a tank of diesel.

I’m averaging almost 50mpg – despite heavy use of the right foot. Official figures claim a crazy 70+mpg. I was never expecting that but the DS5 is a large car and I can’t believe how well it’s doing.

On a drive back from London the computer claimed I had 450 miles left in the tank. Today, driving at a more conservation rate across the Cotswolds, it’s back up to 577 miles!

My father used to keep a record of every penny he spent on fuel. How much went in the tank and what it cost. I’m not sure any of us are as fastidious in our book keeping these days but he’d had been seriously impressed with the turbodiesel DS5…

Is it a French thing? Wacky cars are great but I’m not sure what the Citroen DS5 actually is

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Is it a French thing? I’m not really sure what I should call the DS5. You could put forward an argument that the funky Citroen is a low-roofed hatchback, a very roomy coupe, or even a modest estate.

If you can remember the Renault Avantime crossover, or the oddball Citroen C3 Pluriel – which Citroen touted as ‘five cars in one’ – then you might understand why only the French seem to have a flavour for doing this.

Although the DS5 stands tall, there is a remarkable lack of headroom in the front seats, if you are 6ft or over. The twin front sunroofs in our top spec car, plus the big one over the back seats, help to create a more spacious feel but the reality is you might feel a little cramped up front.

There is, however, a massive boot and tons of legroom. It’s a bit of a conundrum the DS5. I like it but I just wonder if the average buyer will have a particular style of car in mind and discover that the Citroen, for all its versatility, doesn’t do one job class-leadingly well…

Thursday – DS5 Verdict

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So, as the Citroen DS5 of life disappears down the road of fashionable items that passed up by, it’s time to give an honest verdict.

Firstly, this is a car that you want to like. From the moment it turned up with us, the Citroen looked massively appealing from both the inside and the out. Definitely different and daringly designed, you have to take your chapeau off to the French for creating a cracking looking car.

The radically styled interior, brilliant dashboard and cool seats suggest it will be a great car to own too. However, all is not what it seems with the DS5 and sadly, the whole driving experience is a frustrating letdown. The car has lifeless steering, feels twitchy on rough roads and is devoid on driver involvement.

So, despite all the kit on our test car – the sat nav that has stars in the night sky, the massaging driver’s seat and a thumpingly good stereo – it’s never going to match up to the competition from Ford and Vauxhall in the family transport department.

And that is, unfortunately, rather a shame…

 

 

Wednesday – Petanque Anyone?

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It’s taken almost a week but I’ve finally found a road where the DS5 behaves beautifully. Stick this funky looking coupe/MPV on a motorway and it really comes into its own.

I took a long drive down the M5 today to play a man at petanque – it’s a long story but destined to be a feature in the Financial Times. The big Citroen sits on a fast, smooth road beautifully and is also whisper quiet.

So quiet in fact that it is remarkably easy to slip over the speed limit. The speaker system is exceptional, made by Denon and worth every penny, if you fancy an accessory upgrade.

The three automatic blinds that screen off the sunroofs proved worthwhile and I used the seat massage function to prepare my body for my game of petanque. Perfect.

 

Tuesday – Coupe On Steroids

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There are moments when I’ve really enjoyed the DS5 – it’s usually when I’m passing a shop window and see the reflection in the glass. There are admiring glances because the Citroen looks like a rather outsize coupe on steroids.

I’m desperately trying to resist using the phrase form over function but with the DS, it really does come down to that. The driving experience is best described as average and that’s a huge shame considering how much attention went in to creating a car that looks so darn good. Inside and out!

It is very practical and with the back seats lowered, also swallows up a large amount of anything. The subwoofer in the boot eats into space a little but nothing too intrusive.There are storage spaces everywhere, including a massive bin under the centre armrest.

If the DS5 had been designed by the French but engineered by Germans, I rather feel it would have been a much better car than it is…

Monday – Head Banger

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I’m a modest 5ft 10ins. The DS5 is a family car, so why do I keep cracking my head on the side of the door opening when I step inside? It’s got to the point now where I duck down when I slip behind the wheel – although today I straightened up afterwards and immediately bumped my head on the centre roof console instead.

The Citroen is unusual in the fact that often, it is the driver who has the best seating position and the passengers miss out. The DS5 is fantastically comfortable for passengers but finding that perfect driving position remains a problem, even after four days of trying.

At least there is masses of space in the rear, with a drop down armrest in the middle of the back seat that helps give armchair-style relaxation. And the luggage space is huge, although you need to remove two parcel shelves to make the most of it.

Like the Hyundai Veloster, rear visibility is lacking. Our test car has a reversing camera and an audible alert but do try a rear parking manoeuvre before you open your wallet!

 

 

Sunday – No Ground Control

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The Arnolfini Arts Centre in Bristol is surrounded by would-be space kids today. Nothing to do with the Clooney/Bullock movie Gravity – it’s the latest audition venue for the new Stars Wars films. Hundreds of bright you things, all looking for their 15 minutes of fame.

They could do far worse than start rehearsing for the role in the DS5. Seriously, it’s the most futuristic dashboard I’ve ever seen in a car. Part of the audition should be giving them the manual and seeing how long it takes to turn the head-up display screen off.

The button is hidden away in a centre console in the roof. It’s surrounded by switches for automatic sun blinds on the three sunroofs, plus a couple of drop-down sunglasses holders. How did we ever live without those?

I’d swap all those buttons for a better driver’s seat though. As funky as the leather interior is, the armchair-style driving position is quite awful, not helped by the upright angle of the foot pedals. Try it, you’ll see what I mean.

And this is made even worse by the lifeless power steering, which robs the Citroen of any driver enjoyment or feel. I don’t want to go to the Moon in comfort, just the local Waitrose please…

Saturday – Flawed Beauty

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These aren’t the seats from a Bentley – they’re what you will find in top end versions of the Citroen DS5.

The French are notoriously good at putting fine couture into their luxury cars – remember the Citroen CX, Renault Avantime and Vel Satis – but these seats are exceptionally good to look at.

Unfortunately, they are not quite so good to sit on. Despite electric adjustment on the driver’s side with a massaging facility and heat, I’ve found it exceptionally difficult to find a decent driving position.

And it’s also worth pointing out that although the DS5 can carry five people, the centre bolster in the rear bench seat combined with a lack of rear leg room means the Citroen is really more of a stylish 2+2.

Is this going to be a typical French case of form over function – like the three cars mentioned above – or is the DS5 the real deal? Find out how it drives tomorrow…