If it's "cachet" you are after, something a little different -- a bit more stylish than the other medium prestige cars --then look no further than the new $51,990 Citroen DS5.
Citroen developed the new DS range as cars with panache, out of the ordinary. And in the DS5, they have surely succeeded because it's a strikingly handsome hatchback with bucket loads of street appeal. Those large sabre-shaped chrome flashes linking the headlights with the A pillars are just the start of it. Viewed from all angles, the DS5 is a glamour in the current Citroen idiom.
And it's just as startlingly different and appealing inside with no less than three glass sunroofs, an overhead console like an aircraft, beautifully styled seats and dash and a whole truckload of standard kit including head-up display, swivelling headlights, premium audio, comprehensive trip computer and dual zone climate control.
Heck, there's even a massage function on the eight way electrically adjustable driver's seat. The passenger's seat is also electrically adjustable. Other standard kit includes a reverse camera, front and rear park sensors, button start leather, privacy glass, auto high beam, auto headlights and wipers, cruise with speed limiter and Bluetooth phone and audio.
But there isn't much in the way of new-tech driver assistance such as blind spot warning, 360 degree camera, radar cruise with brake function, auto brake and all the other stuff coming in these days. Seats are provided for five but four is a better bet and the car can be set to carry a large load with folding rear seats.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
Power comes from a tried and true 2.0-litre turbo diesel four that sees duty elsewhere in the expansive Peugeot/ Citroen line-up. In this case it's good for 120kW/340Nm and 6.1-litres/100km economy. It passes EU5 emissions regulations and drives the front wheels through a conventional six-speed auto transmission with sequential (not paddle) shift.
That's plenty of kick for a car like this weighing in at 1615kg. It gets off the mark respectably and has prodigious roll-on like most diesels these days. Noise and vibration is negligible at any speed. Infact, you can't hear anything cruising on the highway.
They've set-up the suspension in a sporty way and the big, 18-inch low profile tyres create a bit of a ruckus on rough roads but the upside is responsive handling and an engaging drive from what is essentially a medium prestige family car.
The suspension is a strut front system with trailing arms at the rear. Steering is electric offering a reasonable amount of feel through the hugely flat bottomed steering wheel. We found actually operating the car in terms of switches and functions somewhat challenging. It took a while to sort out the Bluetooth. A rash of buttons and knobs all need to be mastered before you try and drive this car and they are all over the place around the driver's 'cockpit.'
But once set, the rewards are there. It would make an excellent interstate cruiser, economical, quiet, a relaxing drive as long as you didn't venture too far off the hotmix.
Citroen provides a generous warranty on this and all its models as well as fixed price servicing and other entitlements. The brand has been here for years now and has been making cars for a century so they have an idea of how to do it.
We really like the DS5 - the look of it inside and out and the feel. It's economical, luxuriously equipped and can be an engaging drive. Definitely worth a look.
Price: from $51,990
Warranty: 3 years roadside assist 100,000km
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder diesel, 120kW/340Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, FWD
Thirst: 6.1L/100Km, CO2 158g/km
Price: from $60,900
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder diesel, 130kW/380Nm
Transmission: CVT auto, FWD
Price: from $69,500
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder diesel, 135kW/380Nm
Transmission: 8-speed auto, RWD
Price: from $45,900
Engine: 1.8-litre 4-cylinder diesel, 100kW/300Nm
Transmission: 7-speed auto, FWD