“Remember, I was the future once,” quipped David Cameron as he bowed out at his last Prime Minister’s Questions.
For DS, the luxury upmarket brand of the PSA Group, parent of Citroen and Peugeot, it would have been more accurate to have said “We will be the future one day” when the DS 19 launched in 1955.
It was a bit of a slow burner as a standalone brand, however. It took 60 years to become DS Automobiles, launching in mid-2015 and now turning into a serious contender as it amasses several thousand annual sales in the UK alone.
True, some of these have meant the Citroen total appearing diminished but remember that ultimately the money ends up in the same bank accounts, whether it’s those of dealers or the carmaker itself. Citroen has many outstanding models, with the C4 Cactus and New C3 leading its charge.
DS Automobiles is heading down the right track, too. There are renewed efforts to invigorate the brand, which now even has a dedicated Press office to differentiate it from Citroen and Peugeot and pilot its push to greater things. It will eventually have a raft of new models but there’s plenty of appeal in its current offering. The New DS 3 leads the charge while at the head of the family is the DS 5, once a Citroen but more than good enough to be making headway under its own steam.
It is more than just a pretty face, the DS 5. As well as a rather handsome upgrade to emphasise the DS logo, it acquired a range of BlueHDi diesel engines to bring it up to Euro VI standards as the brand went its own way. Increasing focus on air quality means that diesels in particular have to do better. The latest diesel DS 5 does it.
There’s a lot of clever stuff to do with cleaning up the exhaust gases, filtering them to remove particulates, and using AdBlue, a urea additive, in the catalyser to cut noxious gases to an even greater degree.
Diesel engines are still highly relevant to today’s motoring, especially when so many of us cover high mileages, because there is no real investment in public transport infrastructure outside major urban centres. We all need to get about and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to our mobility needs.
The beauty of diesels is that they have better energy efficiency than petrol engines, consuming around 25 per cent less fuel to deliver equivalent performance. This alone is said to reduce CO2 emissions by around 15 per cent, something that’s overlooked while everyone worries about diesels and NOX, nitrous oxide. In comparison to other large cars, the DS 5’s 105 g/km of CO2 is a standout achievement. There is no method of personal mobility that doesn’t affect the planet. If we all went back to the horse there would be a methane problem and if Shanks’ pony was the chosen transport we’d be eating more and that would have an environmental impact, too.
We’ve driven a diesel DS 5 before but never the 180 bhp version paired with an automatic gearbox. It’s a great combination, providing effortless performance, confident motorway cruising, and pretty good economy with an average of 48 mpg, despite some hard driving in the cut and thrust of the M6 where its traffic is most dense.
In places like that, it’s great to have a car that car easily extricate itself from difficult situations, whether that means a quick burst of acceleration or a masterful, confident, dab on the brakes. A trip away made good use of the deep and commodious boot – this car is bigger than its clever styling makes it appear.
Comfort levels are good, and the aptly-named Elegance trim brings plenty of cossetting features to accompany the electronic wizardry that makes this such an easy car to drive. The seats are deep and enveloping while the three piece glass roof throws a lot of natural light into the interior and can be masked by electric blinds when you don’t.
As a flagship model, the DS 5 makes a great impression for this developing brand. It’s highly individual, a perfect reflection of the model that’s now highly sought after by collectors and brought DS to prominence more than 60 years ago
Maurice and Annette Hardy
Car: DS 5 Elegance BlueHDi 180 six speed automatic
Does it fit your ego...
0-62 mph: 9.2 secs
Top speed: 137 mph
Bhp: 180 @ 3750 rpm
Torque: 289 lb ft @ 2000 rpm
...and your wallet...
Combined: 62.8 mpg
CO2 emissions: 105 g/km
Best bits: stylish modern history on the move