CONSERVATISM has been cast aside by the Citroen DS5. Never shy to challenge convention, the French brand is pushing predictable boundaries with the DS range.
Under new distribution management since Sime Darby took the reins earlier this year, there is a renewed swagger about Citroen.
And the DS range will play a vital role if the marque is going to eat into the Australian sales pie.
A convertible derivative of the cute little DS3 was recently introduced, while a diesel variant of this cool looking coupe-cum-wagon has also hit showrooms.
While the DS5 has been around for a couple of years, this diesel donk may be just what the doctor ordered to boost its appeal.
Refreshingly different, the DS5 walks to the beat of its own drum.
Contemporary finishes with a mixture of soft-touch materials and aluminium features create a chic atmosphere in a cabin which captures your attention.
For starters there are buttons galore. More than 60 in fact between the console, dash, roof and steering wheel. It's not helped by the window controls positioned in the centre console rather than on the doors.
Finding your way around can take some time. It's typical French flair and interesting quirks.
One aspect we loved was the three-stage panoramic sunroof which enables you to open just the passenger, driver or the back. It's perfect for warmer climates and means all passengers can be kept happy.
The pews are nicely supportive front and back, although there isn't masses of leg room so those seated in pole positions would need to be generous and avoid sliding too far rearward.
The driver has a crisp digital display split into three panes, with the centre speedo having an analogue and digital read-out. Together they negate the need to have the head-up display which can be flipped up or down by a switch on the roof.
On the road
While a petrol variant has been around for the past two years, this 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel has now joined the range.
It is a handy performer with healthy power output and some pretty useful torque at your disposal.
Sitting high on the road, the DS5 can feel somewhat unwieldy if you become fooled by the flat-bottom sports steering wheel and attack a corner with too much enthusiasm. It's not cumbersome, but does feel its 2.1-tonne weight if you try to throw it around.
The DS5 does its best work cruising with easy use of the throttle.
It doesn't have the floating air suspension like Citroens of old, yet manages to soak up the bumps reasonably well.
The six-speed automatic manages to find the right gear in varying conditions and we only felt the need to slot it across to sport for manual control for some vigorous hill climbs.
Steering feel can be lifeless particularly around centre but it's not devoid of feedback.
What do you get?
Citroen has packed some excellent kit into the DS5 package. On the standard list are leather flat-bottom steering wheel, dual zone climate controlled air-conditioning, three-stage sunroof, electric heated sports front seats with massage function for the driver, sat nav, eight-speaker CD stereo with USB port along with Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity.
Official fuel consumption figures are about six litres for every 100km, but we achieved just above seven.
While there is capped price servicing for the first three years, ongoing maintenance and parts can be expensive.
The key rivals would come from wagon variants, primarily the BMW 320d Touring ($58,900), Audi A4 2.0 TDI Avant ($60,900), Mercedes-Benz C200 CDI Estate ($61,400), Peugeot 508 Allure HDi ($45,990) and the Mazda6 2.2 Atenza Wagon ($50,960).
There is a benefit for having a space saver spare - you get an impressive 465 litres in the boot, which grows to impressive proportions with the rear seats folded flat. Four adults can find comfort, and we managed two kids in car seats along with the applicable scooters and bikes in the back easily.
The DS5 shares its platform with Peugeot's 3008, which provides a high driving position and a unique look. It walks the line between coupe and wagon, and has a similar feel to the recently-released Mercedes- Benz Shooting Brake.
It's an arresting offering. We loved the look, with distinctive Citroen lines through the roof, along with the 18-inch alloys.
WHAT MATTERS MOST
The good stuff: Stand-out exterior styling, interesting interior design, awesome three-pane sunroof.
What we'd like to see: More practical cup holders up front, less buttons, normal steering wheel - there's no need for the sports number.
Servicing and warranty: Three year/100,000km warranty with roadside assist. There is a capped price servicing plan for the first three years, $360 per year or every 20,000km (whichever comes first).
Model: Citroen DS5 DSport.
Details: Five-door luxury front-wheel drive coupe.
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel generating maximum power of 120kW @ 3750rpm and peak torque of 340Nm @ 2000rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 6.1 litres/100km (combined average).
Bottom line: $51,990 (plus on-roads).
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