Saturday 21 April 2018

Gorgeous... but bumps lie ahead

CITROEN
DS5
RATING 77/100
CITROEN DS5 RATING 77/100

The wise folk -- and there are plenty of them -- will tell you right now is not the best time to be taking a risk. Citroen, with the new DS5, would appear to have ignored them.

It has made a car that beggars description yet borrows from several genres. The DS5 is hatchback, estate, sports utility, and God knows what else.

And it costs more than €30,000, which is a lot of money these days, as the sages will also point out.

Call it a leap of faith or a brave new world but this car is an achievement of fairly extravagant dimension in this day and age.

However, the risk-taking works both ways -- for seller and buyer. And therein lies my overriding fear for the latter.

The DS5 is a gorgeous car. There is no doubt about that. It shows what Citroen can do and, in an ideal world, it would have people hailing it as a breath of fresh air.

I have my praise and criticisms of it.

Funnily enough, two of the major criticisms are about the apparently smallest of features. The other is more straightforward.

The first one had to do with getting the blinking ignition key/fob out of its slot. I never got used to the force needed to extricate it from its bedding. Why, I asked myself, could or should anything so basic be so difficult? I don't know how a lady with long/ designer nails would fare. I really don't.

The second was the bootlid. You can only open it from the outside by pressing a slot on the key fob. But it only barely flicks up with no real tangible slot or aperture to open it properly -- awkward with an armful of shopping.

Now normally you might overlook such foibles as essentially Citroen-esque but frankly they annoyed us, not once, not twice, but many, many times. It is at such small, almost negligible interfaces that people take to, or against, a car, I believe.

And while I'm at it, I might as well get the major negative out of the way. I was surprised and disappointed with the suspension and wheels/tyres over what we might call mean city streets -- where there are bumps, ripples and sunken manholes.

The DS5 just didn't deal with them at all like a car with such credentials. It was really quite poor, creating a sense of looseness in the handling and ride that disappointed me.

Yet it was so smooth and capable at the other end of the spectrum -- over motorway surfaces. I cruised effortlessly on those tarmac arteries that now make so many parts of this country so 'near'.

And the diesel engine was brilliant -- lots of power and it kept quiet.

The 160bhp HDi on test is a prime example of what a thoroughly modern diesel can do. Along with a more-than-decent gear-change, there were times when I loved the drive.

The cabin stands comparison with anything in the price range, be it mainstream or what they call executive. The, albeit upgraded, leather upholstery in my test car (DSTYLE) was redolent of the good old days. And such seats. Big, strong, comfortable and adjustable. I mean, what more could a dodgy back want?

The quality and feel of the plastic surfaces were on a par with the best in class, too.

There was good room at the back for three, and the boot, despite my criticisms about accessing it, had plenty of room.

I would complain, however, about the stars-in-sky quantity of buttons and dials I had to deal with as driver. Really, there were far too many. It was like the cockpit of a jet engine. It really was unfortunate too that the 'buttons' to open and close the windows were on a central console to the left of my elbow. Surely they could have found a way to place them in a more conventional spot?

I wanted to really like this car, to tell you it was something special. It is, in some ways. It smacks of the quirkiness I loved so much about Citroen back in the good old days. And the technology in some elements was awesome. I'm sure this will appeal to the enthusiast who is prepared to take a chance on what is really a flagship for Citroen.

I liked many elements of it, enjoyed it especially on the motorway and luxuriated in its rich, leather upholstery.

But I would have concerns about how it handled, and some minor, even piffling annoyances with key slots and bootlids.

I'm no wise man but I know my main concern would be, most importantly of all, about its future trade-in value.

ecunningham@independent.ie

Indo Motoring

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Also in Life