Affordability and luxury is an oxymoron, which obviously you would pay big amounts of money for high levels of refinement, craftsmanship and the lifestyle that comes with it and If you can afford a car that has more than six digits on the pricelist, then your world is very much your oyster. Obviously, with that sort of money you can go for cars that are bespoke, rather than something made according to focus groups and keep shareholders happy.
But what if you want something that’s a lot cheaper, but feels pretty close to cars that cost twice as much? Little that many knew that Citroen now has its own luxury arm branded as DS Automobiles, or DS for short – the name is also a play on words as in French pronounced like the word déesse, meaning goddess.
Historically, PSA originally consisted of three automobile brands, Peugeot, Citroen and the defunct Talbot, but none was a premium brand. Since 1976, PSA has experimented with differentiating the brands by price level similar to Volkswagen and Audi, but neither brand had the strength to obtain premium pricing.
You’re right to say that the DS5 you see here in pictures looks similar to the Citroen branded car, but now positioned in the executive segment, the DS5 would have to meet much higher standards. PSA boss Carlos Tavares said the DS will keep using the same platforms and dealerships as other PSA models, but will distinguish itself from Citroën cars by using “separate manufacturing and engineering standards,”
I would confidently say that the DS5 is one good looking car. The wedged silhouette with sculpted lines and low sloping roofline is a futuristic take on the original Citroen DS saloon and draws the eye from every angle, mesmerising LED Vision headlamps and tail lamps, and distinctive chrome elements give a haute couture feel to the DS5 overall look. This is a car I’ll look back at as I walk away in a parking lot and by a number of people craning their necks for a second glance, too.
The same is to be said for the interior, which the design philosophy is very much inspired from aviation. There is plenty to visually absorb inside: like the rectangle analogue clock; the flowing lines and contours of the sloping dashboard; the centre console that house the power window switches; the glass roof shade and heads up display switches located above. In addition, both the driver and co-driver get two overhead storage cubbies above.
The materials feel great to the touch and the tidy switchgear is overwhelmingly pleasant to behold and touch. You’ll never feel short-changed when you feel the aluminium door levers, door cross bars, metal gear knob and console trim, and especially when you hear a satisfying mechanical ping and feel the tactile feedback of the locking mechanism when you pull door lever – you’ll won’t experience such nuances in other cars within this price point.
Both front seats are comfortable and supportive suitable for long distance driving. They are eight-way electrically adjustable on both sides with a mechanical lumbar support available for the driver only. However, the driving position is a little perched up for a car that gives the ‘Gran Turismo’ feeling. Despite that minor setback, head and legroom isn’t too much of an issue which tall adults won’t complain the lack of it even having the glass roof.
Having a glass roof is now a thing for cars in this class, and for the DS5 allows the driver to pick either a more focused lighting source from the windscreen or windows, or allow more light inside by retracting the shrouds above for more perceived space. Personally, I would prefer more light to enter as it makes the interior feel less enclosed and enjoy the clear blue skies a little more.
There’s more than meets they eye in the DS5’s avant-garde interior; there are deep storage areas located on the front and rear doors; the centre console is wide, deep and air-conditioned; a cubby on the driver’s side and the overhead storage cubbies as mentioned.
At the rear, the seats are wide and can sit five regular sized adults. They are just as comfortable and supportive like the front seats and fold down 60:40. ISOFIX anchor points are available, too. The centre armrest can be folded down and reveal two-cup holders, and a load-through hatch that allows you carry long objects in the boot. Also, occupants get their own air vents and power window control located here as well.
Enabling the child lock can be done via the power window lock switch located on the centre console, which prevents the rear passengers from winding down the rear window and opening the doors.
Opening the rear hatch can be done via a button located at the driver’s side, key fob, or a switch located discreetly above the number plate. This allows access to its 468-litre boot, which expands to 1,288 litres with the rear seats folded down completely flat. Under the floor is where you will find tools, and the space-saver wheel can be found under the car.
Entertainment comes from a seven-inch touch screen multimedia centre that comes with navigation, USB, auxiliary, Bluetooth telephony and streaming, Apple Carplay and Mirrorlink connectivity. The interface is clear and sharp without any glaring during bright and hot sunny days, but drivers with short arms struggle to reach. Bluetooth music streaming is consistent throughout without any momentary pauses and sound distortions.
If you’re really into music then the DS5 will certainly deliver. It comes with Denon’s 100W 10-speaker system that consists of four 25mm soft-dome tweeters with resonance chambers, 165mm woofers, a central mid-range 80mm speaker and a subwoofer box with 100w 165mm driver integrated in the trunk. What tie all these together in unison is a fully digital amplifier with 10 channels x 50w with advanced road noise and distortion management.
100W may sound insignificant when compared to the more powerful systems, but what matters most is how the system delivers sound, which is impressive for what may seem like a regular audio system. The sound reproduction is crisp, faithful, deep, and most importantly powerful. And unlike with most systems, both extreme ends of the spectrum don’t sound overly washed out. There are oodles of detail: from tapping of the drums and cymbals to the saxophones and trumpets on John Beasly’s Evidence.
The DS5 is an easy car to drive whether you are driving to work or on long distance journeys. The driver will get a commanding view outside with surprisingly minimal blind spots. The slim windscreen pillars with an extra window allow a great view of the road when pulling out of junctions or on a roundabout. It has a turning circle of 11.2-metre diameter, which is reasonably tight meaning you’ll be able to get in and out of tight spaces easily.
Although PSA had scrapped the old hydropneumatic system in favour to axe unnecessary costs, the DS5 is still able to offer class-rivalling comfort levels, which is much needed for Malaysian roads. Ride comfort in the DS5 is sublime; it absorbs rough roads like a sponge with having little to no vibrations transferred directly to the passengers. That said, there’s minimal suspension thumps when passing through annoying potholes and effortlessly rides over medium sized speed bumps, which is impressive considering that it is fitted with low profile 18-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 3 performance tyres.
Unlike the pre-facelifted lack lustre handling and rock hard ride, the midlife refreshed DS5 handles exceptionally poised and neutral through the bends. The steering still lacks feel, but provides an adequate amount of resistance for smoother steering inputs. Refinement is definitely on the high side as the cabin is well insulated from the outside world. The petrol engine settles down nicely once you’re u to cruising speeds. Road and wind noise are well contained, too.
Powering the DS5 is the tried and tested turbocharged 1.6-litre THP in-line four-cylinder Prince engine that makes 163hp at 6,000 rpm and a 240Nm of torque staying flat from 1,400 to 5,000 rpm. Mated to the THP163 engine is a six-speed automatic transmission. In simpler terms, the performance is better than average as it is able to level against its closest rivals with a 0-100 km/h time of 8.9 seconds and maxing out at 210km/h as tested. Is it frugal? Quite. As tested, the DS5 does a low 6.6l/100km Highway, 10.8 l/100km Urban and 8.5 L/100km Combined as tested.
Priced at RM198,888 OTR W/ insurance, the DS5 is reasonably priced, and considering the goods you’ll get with it is very much worth while especially if you need an executive compact to run around in the city and on long road trips on highways and trunk roads in comfort. Rest assured that you’d be taken care of pretty well, too. Included in the bundle is a 5-Years Manufacturer’s Warranty, 24-Hour Roadside Assistance and owners get exclusive access to the Sky Lounge at Subang Skypark Airport. To sum things up, the DS5 is a very unique car in the executive class that ticks all of the right boxes.
+ Beautiful design
+ Excellent ride comfort
+ Built quality and refinement
+ Good handling
+ Frugal fuel consumption
– Overly weighted steering wheel
DS5 1.6 THP
Price Msia: RM198,888
Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged in-line four-cylinder
Top Speed: 210km/h (Tested)
Fuel consumption: 6.6 litres/100km (Tested)