Driven: Citroën DS5 D-Sport Hybrid4
So there’s an air of familiarity to the DS5. It’s as streamlined, technology-rich and futuristic as its closest predecessor, and home to Citroën’s latest innovations. This is a leftfield alternative in a straight-laced segment, and charmingly French after the Germanic C5.
Whether you love or loathe its looks, it’s definitely distinctive. Muscular at the front and rear, with a raked roofline and large alloy wheels on the D-Sport version, it’s got a very obvious bloodline back to the C-Sportlounge concept from the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show.
Fans of the bodywork will love the equally futuristic interior. Citroën says the DS5 was inspired by aeroplanes, and its “cockpit” is one of the most striking, interesting and intricately designed on the market, surrounding the driver with banks of buttons, digital gauges and plush soft-touch materials. It’s a sublimely comfortable place to spend a few hours, and doesn’t dazzle at night thanks to a blackout mode which switches off all except the most vital readouts.
This is a car aimed squarely at the retail and user-chooser markets, with fleets expected to soak up 70% of the UK sales volume. Its emotional appeal comes backed by some impressive figures, too. Using a diesel engine and electric motor, it offers short-range battery-powered cruising and 107g/km CO2 emissions, but with 200bhp and four wheel drive when needed. Resulting low taxation should help offset some of the Hybrid4’s £2,700 extra cost over the HDI 160.
For such a complicated system, it’s fairly seamless to use. The all-electric mode is easy to hang onto around town, provided the ground is level, and the cabin is well sound-deadened which masks the diesel engine starting up. PSA’s usually lethargic electronically-controlled gearbox is much smoother, too, with the electric motor filling in gaps between gear changes.
But, despite the power output, Hybrid4 is best suited to inner-city driving where it can switch between diesel and electric power more frequently, cutting fuel consumption. There’s a knack to squeezing decent economy out of the drivetrain, but it lacks the ability to “sail” at motorway speeds, which tends to result in mid-40s fuel economy for long trips.
So expect HYbrid4 to appeal most to early adopters. Tech-savvy executives seeking high technology and a way to stand out will love it, and they’re possibly the same as the earliest buyers of the equally distinctive DS.
Full of the design and innovation that’s part of Citroën’s DNA, the DS5 shows executive motoring doesn’t have to mean buying German. But Hybrid4 is, like many hybrids, best-suited to tax-conscious urban motorists. Despite tax benefits, those covering regular motorway miles may be better off in the cheaper HDI 160.
Segment: Compact executive
Type: Diesel-electric hybrid
Electric range: 2.5miles
CO2 emissions (tailpipe): 107g/km
Charging port: N/A