Citroen's recently reinstated sub brand of DS harks back to the heyday of Citroen styling in the 1950s through to the 70s.
Going the DS route Citroen has been successful with the DS3 supermini hatch, less so with the DS4 high stance C-segment coupe styled family hatch and the jury is still out about the fortunes of the new DS5 executive coupe/ five door hatch launched in April.
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The trouble for Citroen in the UK is that the brand is known for its discounted fuel efficient, cheap to run small to medium cars. Their MPV people carriers are also strong sellers but once higher prices for larger executive models are considered, the brand's following gets very much smaller.
In the past their larger models have been hit hard by poor residual values because of small sales so we will have to wait to see how the new DS5 will fare.
The very attractive and extremely stylish DS5 is priced from £22,400 to £32,200 and offers a wide range of engine options; 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol/diesel, 2.0-litre turbodiesel and the 2.0-litre turbodiesel/hybrid 4x4 powertrain as used in the Peugeot 508RXH. There are DSign, DStyle and DSport levels of specification depending on the powertrain chosen.
Citroen in the UK estimate 85 per cent of their DS5 customers will opt for the diesel engines, just 5 per cent will go the petrol route and 10 per cent, mainly low tax seeking business users, will go for the hybrid models. Citroen never forecasts sales numbers but they estimate the DS5 will attract 30 per cent of its UK sales from retail buyers and 70 per cent will be fleet and business user-chooser customers.
The sub 100g/km of CO2 emission diesel/hybrid DSign 4x4 variant with its unloved electronic EGC gearbox makes most tax sense for fleet and business users with 10 per cent BIK company car tax, London Congestion Charge free and VED road tax rated at £0 and priced at £27,600.
However Citroen say the likely best selling model overall will be the 2.0-litre HDI 161bhp turbodiesel engine, 2WD and probably with the top DSport trim and equipment.
This version also had the option of a proper six-speed torque converter automatic transmission which I'm afraid adds another £1,500 to the price making my test model a very testing £29,500. The test vehicle also carried other extra cost options including 19-inch wheels which no way would I recommend - but more of that later.
The Citroen DS5 is a complex vehicle. On the one hand it is very good and on the other very bad.
The good points are the styling inside and out. From the outside with its wide and fairly high stance and coupe roofline its looks like a sports SUV crossover.
It is big and bold and the twin rear exhaust pipes, prominent cooling vents and light clusters and showy front grille give it a powerful image. On the inside there is real design flair and craftsmanship is well up to its executive car status. If it was BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz branded we would accept it as a premium product.
The front passengers sit in aircraft style twin cockpits with overhead controls and switches, and twin skylight type glass panels in the roof.
The futuristic controls blend happily with old-school design touches such as the analogue clock. The laminated side windows make it a quiet place to travel but in the front I found it a bit snug for width due to the wide centre console which is also home to copious amounts of aircraft style switches.
I'm glad I was trying an automatic transmission model because with three pedals in the foot-well for a manual version, foot space would be limited. In the rear there is plenty of width for three people but there isn't that much legroom given the 4.5-metre overall length.
The lower rear section roofline, giving the coupe styling, also limits headroom for tall passengers. There is a sunroof for rear seat passenger and the rear tailgate has upper and lower twin rear windows. The relatively small lower section limits rear visibility as do the meaty rear quarter roof pillars.
There is a 465-littre boot behind the rear seats but the rear sill is relatively high so heavy items have to be lifted up and into the boot, rather than sliding them as is the case with most SUVs or estates.
The specification is comprehensive, leather upholstery, air con, great sound system, electrically operated windows and door mirrors and a full array of safety features helping with its five star NCAP safety rating.
I'm going to gloss over the engine's performance. The 2.0-litre HDI 161bhp, 251lb ft of torque turbodiesel unit is well used and well known in Citroen and Peugeot ranges.
In the DS5 with the silky smooth six-speed auto gearbox top speed is 132mph, zero to 62mph takes 9.8 seconds, officially it will average 46.3mpg and on my test 44mpg was the figure covering all types of conditions.
The CO2 emissions of 158g/km mean road tax is £170 and company car tax is 24 per cent. Opting for the same engine with a manual gearbox makes more financial sense and improves fuel consumption to 57.6mpg.
And CO2 emissions are significantly lower at 129g/km so road tax is £0 going up to £100 for the second year onwards and company car tax is 19 per cent. So the advice is to take the manual gearbox version instead of the auto to save on tax costs and its £1,500 cheaper to buy.
Whilst stylish outside and a finely crafted interior with high levels of specification are reasons to buy, the main reason why I would not recommend the DS5 is because of its extremely poor ride qualities.
The rock-hard suspension on all models limits body roll but shocks from every bump, pothole and tarmac ripple are transmitted through the bodyshell which inevitably unsettles the handling and batters the passengers with never ending discomfort.
My test model was even worse with optional large 19-inch wheels and low profile tyres. The ride was appalling which ruined for me a really interesting and stylish executive car.
Citroen DS5 DSport HDi 160 6-speed auto 5-door executive hatchback
£29,500 (£28,000 manual model)
2.0-litre, four cylinder turbodiesel 161bhp, 251lb ft of torque from 2,000rpm, 6-speed torque converter automatic, front wheel drive.
132mph, 0-62mph 9.8 seconds, 46.3mpg (44mpg on test), CO2 158g/km, VED road tax £170, BIK company car tax 24%.
Glamorous and distinctive executive car styling inside and out, high safety rating, good fuel economy.
Appallingly hard and uncompromising ride quality, auto version much more expensive to buy, tax and run, limited rear seat headroom for tall adults.