When Citroen launched its DS range as a stylish up-market sub-brand in 2009, it was a canny move. It revived a badge name that is legendary in the company’s history. The Citroen DS that was produced for 20 years from 1955 to 1975 was a French automotive icon. Rolled off a Gallic tongue, those initials sound the same as the French word for goddess, which is pretty much how the original DS came to be regarded in its native land.
Citroen’s re-launch of the DS badge came after a gap of 34 years. The first model to appear was the supermini-size DS3, to instant acclaim and rapid sales success. Next was the chunkier DS4, introduced in early 2011 to extend the range up in size. This one, the DS5, is the third model in the modern goddess line-up, a hatchback-estate on sale in the UK from March 2012.
At the car’s international launch, Citroen described the DS5 as representing ‘industrialised haute couture’, and you can see what is meant. This is a car with complex and sophisticated body styling, and it is easy to visualise a parallel with something sashaying down the catwalk in Paris Fashion Week. Citroen sells its C5 model to family drivers and company fleets. The DS5 is a fashion car, a C5 with a sassier suit of clothes.
The choice of engines available in the DS5 starts with a low-polluting 1.6 litre e-HDi diesel and includes a lively 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and an interesting diesel-electric Hybrid4, which has a diesel engine at the front, an electric motor and battery pack at the back, and four-wheel-drive. The car tested has a two-litre diesel engine.
At the heart of this car is a well-regarded PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) Group two-litre turbodiesel engine, and it delivers strong performance with a power output of 161 bhp. The power peak is at 3,750 rpm. The engine develops plenty of torque, with 251 lb ft of thrust sustained from 2,000 to 3,000 revs. The 0-62 mph acceleration time is around 10 seconds, and the top speed of this version is 132 mph.
The six-speed auto transmission fitted to this car works well with the engine, with slick shifts and well-spaced ratios. If you prefer the manual gearbox, that is also a six-speed.