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Citroen DS5 road test

  • Latest model in the premium DS range tested
  • Hybrid4 model emits 99g/km lowering tax costs
  • On sale early 2012, prices start at £22,400

The Citroen DS5 is the third model to join the premium DS range and with a range of clean diesel engines and a premium feel it could cause a stir in the company car market.

With the DS5 set to be a split of 70% fleet/business sales to 30% private sales, the manufacturer is hoping its latest model will be a major player in the company car sector.

There’s plenty of evidence to help back up the French firm’s goal. There’s a much more premium feel to the car than any Citroen model before it and everything feels well put together. The layout of controls and features around the driver as well as the overhead controls really enhance the cabin.

It’s not merely style over substance though. Gone is the boat-like ride and cornering of the C5, instead the DS5 corners flat and although the ride can feel a little hard at times, it’s much improved. Then there’s the handling that offers a decent amount of feedback to the driver and offers good grip in tighter spots.

It’s a comfortable car to drive too. The seats give more than enough support and at motorway speeds. Overall, it’s very refined with a small amount of engine and road noise and hardly any wind noise.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the diesel models that are set to be the most popular and also make the most sense in terms of tax costs for company car drivers and while all this handling stuff is great, the big question for a company car choice is the cost.

The lowest emitting model is the e-HDi 110 model at 114g/km. This means it falls in to the 16% Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) rating. With a P11d value of £24,845 for the DStyle model you’ll be paying £66.25 per month if you’re paying the basic rate of 20% tax. Unfortunately, if you do opt for this model you’ll have to put up with the EGS six-speed clutchless automatic gearbox that comes with learner-driver-like kangaroo gear changes.

The next model up is the HDi 160. This produces 163bhp and offers excellent in-gear acceleration and plenty of low-down diesel pull to produce a 0-62mph time of 8.8s with the six-speed manual gearbox and 10.1s with the six-speed auto ‘box. It’s surprisingly quite too, with the engine only getting raucous when you really put your foot down.

With the manual gearbox and 16- or 17-inch alloys, emissions are 129g/km (opt for larger 18- or 19-inch alloys and this rises to 133g/km). This puts the car in to 19% BIK band rating. With a P11d value of £25,730 for the DStyle manual car – set to be the most popular – you’ll pay £81.48 per month on 20% tax.

The Hybrid4 model is the cleanest of the engines on offer with emissions of just 99g/km and despite a steep P11d value of £30,045 you won’t be paying massive tax prices. With such low CO2 figures it comes in to the 13% BIK bracket which means you’ll be paying a monthly price of around £65.10 on the basic 20% tax.

The Hybrid4 model is a mix of diesel engine and electric motor (the same kit used in the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4) in a similar way a standard hybrid does with a petrol engine and electric motor. The combination of the two means the car produces a total of 200bhp getting the car in 62mph in 8.6s. With the added 100kg of weight it doesn’t feel as agile as the regular diesel, but does offer enough power to make overtaking simple.  

Although it eats in to the bootspace – this drops from 465 litres to 325 litres in the Hybrid4 – the electric motor can power the car up to around 40mph as well as powering the gear changes in the EGS gearbox, making it much smoother than the version on the 110 e-HDi.

With all this in mind - the premium feel, good handling and reasonable costs - the DS5 could make a big impact on the fleet markets and give company car drivers a more interesting choice of car.

The DS5 is set to go on sale in the first quarter of 2012 with prices starting at £22,400 for the HDi 110 DSign EGS model rising to £32,200 for the Hybrid4 DSport Auto model.

Also consider:

Volkswagen Passat

One of the best all-rounders with a high quality interior and excellent range of efficient BlueMotion engines. The styling isn’t overly exciting though.

Vauxhall Insignia

The standard choice for most company car drivers, it’s a refined and comfortable cruiser with plenty of kit. Engines aren’t as efficient as rivals though and it’s a little uninspiring.

Audi A4 Avant

Audi’s excellent estate is well built, good to drive and offers impressive levels of interior space. Added extras are a problem though and you could see the price of the car quickly rise.

*All company car tax costs based on BIK rates for tax year 2012/13.