The Warsaw Voice » Society » Monthly - September 30, 2015
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Original, Extravagant, Idiosyncratic
While most automakers churn out products that suffer from sameness syndrome, CitroŽn is doing its own thing and building a completely new brand called DS, officially launched June 1 last year.

Despite its reputation as a manufacturer of mainstream cars that appeal to popular taste, CitroŽn has decided to focus on a narrow range of models belonging to different segments but all boasting original styling, luxurious finishing and quality workmanship. One example is the mid-sized DS5. The model originally debuted at the Frankfurt motor show in the autumn of 2011; after this year’s facelift it sports a new grille.

The body is quite unlike any other car. At first glance, the DS5 looks a bit like an inflated station wagon, but its sloping roof suggests that this is a hatchback. On the other hand, the height of the car suggests that this is a minivan, and maybe even a SUV? The body looks a bit elevated, but the ground clearance is the same as in other models. Only after you look carefully will you notice the “trick” the designers came up with, based on the use of large, 18-inch wheels and a shiny, decorative molding strip inches above the bottom of the door. This is why when looking at the car from the side you get the impression that the clearance is as large as in a SUV. In fact, there are more such stylistic tricks, including a decorative molding strip running along the length of the hood that makes the hood seems longer than it actually is, and the twin exhaust pipes. One of these pipes is, in fact, a dummy, but the rear of the vehicle looks great as a result. One thing is certain—this model will turn heads. Not only because of the unusual shape of the body, but also due to the many (perhaps too many) glittering stylistic details.

After opening the door of the passenger cabin, an original dashboard and seats will grab your attention. Taking the driver’s seat, you’re in for another surprise. Is this a car or an airplane? The designers have obviously been inspired by an aviation theme. There’s the somewhat cramped interior, a small steering wheel that’s flattened at the bottom, narrow instrument panels, and something that no other car will offer you: an extended control panel on the ceiling between the front seats. (If you have ever watched a movie, you have probably noticed that pilots often reach for the ceiling to manipulate some levers.) The DS5 has a top panel with separate controls for as many as three sunroofs (above the driver, above the passenger and above the back seats), in addition to switches for the interior lighting and the Head-Up Display that projects driving information onto a transparent panel in the driver’s direct line of vision. This display brings to mind a fighter aircraft—probably exactly the effect the designers wanted to achieve.

The test-drive model was fitted with a 2-liter/180 hp Common Rail diesel engine with front wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission. On paper, the specs look promising: 4,000 Nm at 2,000 rpm sounds good enough. Unfortunately, in practice, this turns out to be insufficient for a car that weighs in at almost 1,600 kg. According to the producer’s technical data, the vehicle takes 9.2 seconds to hit 100 kph from standstill and achieves a top speed of 220 kph. Meanwhile, the steering lacks direct feedback and engine power is limited by the slow transmission. Even in the sports driving mode, the transmission hesitates for a fraction of a second. Bearing this in mind, it’s better to hide the Head-Up Display and stop pretending you’re in an airplane.

Overall, despite its extravagant style and not very spacious interior, the DS5 is a practical car that, in addition to five passengers, can carry a lot of luggage (capacity is 468 liters). The price tag of around zl.150,000 for the test-drive unit appears a little steep, but is acceptable if you consider the quality of workmanship, the extensive equipment that comes as standard and the long list of extras—especially as you are buying a SUV, a hatchback, a minivan and a station wagon all rolled into one.

Bartosz GrzybiŮski