Citroën DS5 DSport Hybrid 4 200 Airdream

Citroën surprises with a car worthy of Côte d'Azur glitz

Price: £32,200
Engine capacity: 2.0-litre diesel (163hp) plus a 148lb ft electric motor (37hp)
Top speed (mph): 131
0-62 mph (seconds): 8.3
Fuel economy (mpg): 68.9
CO2 emissions (g/km): 107

The original Citroën DS was created by an Italian designer and a French aeronautical engineer, and back in the mid-1950s looked like a luxurious arrival from the future. More recently though, Citroëns have been rather dull.

The new DS line – which builds on the basic Citroën shell and offers something a little more refined and stylish – is the French firm's latest attempt to change all that and the DS5 is its all-singing, all-dancing, top-of-the-range executive flagship.

Starting at £23,000, but rising to £30k plus if you go mad with the optional extras and go for the powerful but economical diesel-hybrid version I've tested, the DS5 is going up against the big boys – the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 – in the lucrative company car market. It will be a tough nut to crack for the gallic challenger, but the DS5 Hybrid has a few things in its favour. Firstly the looks. The DS5 looks just fabulous, especially in the rich pearlescent white my test model came. Its styling is genuinely head-turning with a bodyshell that incorporates a swish chrome blade running from the B-pillar to the headlamps, a shiny glass spoiler, boomerang rear lights and sporty quadrilateral exhaust pipes. It really wouldn't look out of place on the Cote D'Azur as a statement of stealth wealth with a fashionable French gent at the wheel.

Design fluff aside, fleet managers are more likely to opt for the Hybrid 4 version for its low emissions and tax breaks, though. My test model was running on 18-inch alloys, but fit the standard 17-inch alloys and the DS5 Hybrid (a rear mounted electric motor kicks in at slow speed and recharges directly from the diesel engine) hits the magic number or of 99 g/km, which means no vehicle excise duty or congestion charge for the private buyer and fantastic benefit in kind tax benefits for the company car driver.

The hybrid engine layout isn't the smoothest I've driven and it doesn't give the best performance or economy out of town (its gear shifts under full power are rather jerky), but treat it carefully and drive as if you're wafting across France rather than bruising around Magny-Cours and it will deliver respectable-enough fuel consumption on the open road and silent emission-free motoring in town. Flick the gear selector to sport, though, and the diesel and electric engines combine to give you 200bhp and buckets of acceleration. Sadly its handling and ride don't match this power. The driving position is very comfortable and the cabin as luxurious as a BMW, but the automatic gearbox – with auto, sport, full electric and four-wheel settings – is a little ponderous and the ride fidgety.

Historically, luxury French cars have performed badly in Britain – Citroën only managed to sell four, yes just four, of its C6 luxury saloons here last year – but the DS5 is an attractive proposition and has a ace up its sleeve... the French.

Yes, it will be attractive to company car buyers, but it will also appeal to the army of French tax-dodgers reportedly heading to London to swerve their new President's 75 per cent tax rate.

So expect to see lots of lost French drivers cruising silently through Paris-on-Thames in the weeks ahead. They'll have directions to the nearest bank in one hand and a suitcase stuffed with euros in the other.

election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

    Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

    Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

    £45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'