DS 5 (2012 – 2018) Review

DS 5 (2012 – 2018) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The DS5 succeeds in being a left-field alternative to the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. But it's a left-field alternative that no one asked for - with a harsh ride, average engines and a confusing image.

+It’s different. Smart interior, particularly with the optional watch strap leather. Plenty of standard equipment.

-It rides like a bag of spanners. The 6EAT automatic transmission is head-noddingly slow to shift. Did we mention the suspension?

Insurance Groups are between 18–33
On average it achieves 72% of the official MPG figure

Citroen’s bold shot upmarket success was spearheaded by the arrival of the DS5 in 2012. Initially badged as a Citroen DS5, the company spun the DS5 off to create the DS brand in its own right. A mixed bag, that dares to be different against the all-too-predictable Germanic norm in the class it aspired to, the DS5 is near monobox hatchback with a lounge like interior and bold styling inside and out. Production ended in 2018, the DS5 not making any significant impact on the premium class, but it’s paved the way for the brand’s SUV choices that tap more into the motoring zeitgeist than DS5 ever did.

There isn’t a car manufacturer out there that doesn’t look at the sales in the premium sphere and think ‘I want a bit of that’. Citroen decided to do exactly that with its line of DS models. The badge arrived with the DS3, which was a fun small car to rival competition like the Mini, though the DS5’s arrival in 2012 underlined the firm’s aspirations with the DS brand. Harking back to Citroen’s iconic DS of old, the French firm hoped that DS would do what that big, innovative and fabulously styled saloon would do, that is offer something completely different to the rather sober-suited Germanic norm, with the DS5 being a large hatchback with striking styling, a genuinely smart interior, plentiful standard equipment and rarity on its side. 

Certainly, buy one and you’ll be asked about it in the office car park, it standing out among the sea of BMW 3 Series, Audi A4s and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, not least because it’s a bit higher than all of them. Indeed, Citroen carved its own bold path with the DS5, with some cool-looking chrome giving real presence to the DS5’s front end, the DS5 in profile being slightly shooting brake in its form. Conventional it isn’t then, which is rather the point, the DS5 aimed at exactly the people who find convention boring. 

An admirable stance from Citroen, and, in a bid to add to the distinction the brand was completely separated from Citroen in 2015. Citroen’s not alone in trying this, SEAT recently having tried to spin off a sportier brand with its Cupra, while Audi might be considered its own premium entity it’ll always be linked with VW. There’s credibility to what DS is trying to achieve, but with the DS5 the gallic brand might have gone a little bit too far off-piste. 

It sent out mixed messages, too, the old DS was world-renowned for its incredible ride comfort and relaxed gait from its clever hydropneumatics suspension, though somebody obviously forgot about that when specifying the DS5. Perhaps buoyed by the success of its sporting, enjoyable DS3 relation, the suspension of the DS5 evidently tried more of the same, though the result can only be described as disastrous. At the DS5’s launch it was vilified as offering little enjoyment behind the wheel, and certainly not enough to justify the bone-jarring ride. Citroen hastily tried to rectify this, eventually getting the DS5 to ride with a modicum of decorum with the 2015 facelift and brand shift, though the damage had arguably already been done by then. Power came from a range of engines and transmissions familiar to Citroens, so diesel and small capacity turbocharged petrol units, with a hybrid offering, too.

Ask Honest John

Does the DS5 have a timing chain or cam belt?
"Does the Citroen DS5 petrol 2013 have a cam chain or belt and what is the change interval?"
Timing chain, which is designed to last the life of the car. But at 9 years, it would be wise to have it checked as chains can become worn and stretch over time.
Answered by Dan Powell
Why is the Citroen DS5 badly rated by journalists?
"I have been driving a Citroen DS4 HDI 160 for about a year. I really enjoy this car, it is comfortable, nippy, fun to drive and economical. It was a great tower of my Eldiss caravan, that I have recently changed to a Coachman. I felt the DS4 was just a bit light for towing this new caravan, so I decided to purchase a new DS5 160 Sport of which I take delivery in about two weeks. It is heavier and should do the towing job. However, I noticed in a well-known car magazine that they have assessed the DS5 as below par overall. Have I missed something, because they also assess the DS4 as below par?"
In my view they are both bad designs. The DS3 worked very well but the DS4 doesn't. There is absolutely no excuse for non-opening back windows and a point on the back door that stabs people in the cheek (it did to me on the launch). It has completely ridiculous 19-inch wheels with 40 profile tyres, and the ride quality of the DS5 (based on a stretched C4, not a C5) is abysmal. Had it been given Hydractive 3 suspension then it might have been worthy of bearing the DS tag. After the criticism, Citroen is now re-thinking the DS5.
Answered by Honest John
Small executive cars with low BIK
"I wish to buy a small executive car. Budget is about £30k. I want a car with low BIK. Can you recommend the new Citreon DS5, and if not what should I look at? "
New BMW F30 320d Efficient Dynamics. 109g/km. £28,000.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a DS 5 (2012 – 2018) cost?