The 15-month old DS Automobile marque has arrived in Australia, with the launch of the rebadged DS 5 sans Citroen nameplate billed as a first step in “reviving the tradition of French premium vehicles”.
That’s the mission of PSA — parent of Peugeot and Citroen — with DS Automobiles, established as a standalone brand within the empire. First cab off the rank is not an all-new car, but a rebadged and updated one.
The DS 5 as you see it here debuted in 2012 with Citroen badges. It remains a luxury hatchback that somewhat defies segments, with its major claim to fame being its use as the official car of the French president.
Even DS itself was unable to nominate a rival, though said BMW 3 Series buyers had been known to jump ship.
DS Automobiles has pledged to have six global models by 2020, with the full rollout of all-new metal slated for 2018. China is a major focus, but Citroen Australia showrooms are now getting designated DS ‘salons’.
The updated version with the shortened name serves as the range flagship, and gets a number of tweaks to keep it fresh in exchange for what has to be called the significant price hike that comes as part of the deal.
These include a more potent new 133kW/400Nm 2.0-litre BlueHDi turbocharged diesel engine with 13kW/60Nm more than the old unit, but a significantly better combined-cycle fuel economy claim of 4.5 litres per 100km.
This unit is matched to a new six-speed automatic gearbox. There is no longer any petrol engine option, a decision made easy for PSA’s local importer given 90 per cent of sales since launch have been diesel models.
Inside, the DS 5 gets a revised cabin that remains highly distinctive, with the signature targa-style panoramic sunroof and assortment of avante-garde shapes and angles.
New equipment over the old model includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen with reverse-view camera (and which helps remove 12 buttons from the fascia), DAB+ digital radio, LED headlights with daytime running lights, a blind-spot monitor and bigger 18-inch alloy wheels (was 17s before).
DS claims this is about $6000 worth of extras over the old model. However, at a steep price of $59,990 plus on-road costs, the DS is now $5000 pricier than it was before to boot.
The eponymous DS 5 gets revisions to its highly distinctive styling, though it remains quite unlike anything else on the road. Tweaks include a revised grille with the new DS badge and new headlight designs.
Underneath, the DS still features all-round independent suspension (but not the brand trademark hydro-pneumatic setup), but this iteration of the DS 5 is said to be cushier courtesy of pre-loaded linear valves to limit the more linear damping curve. The compression stroke has also been lengthened.
DS boldly claims its cars offer “dynamic hyper-comfort”.
PSA’s local importer Sime Darby is also importing a limited run of 30 DS 5 ‘60th Anniversary” editions with special Watchstrap leather, a Denon HiFi system, DS metal trims and roof sticker, DS mirror caps, premium paint and 19-inch alloys for $59,990 a pop.
Given Citroen has sold only 45 DS 5s this year, you won’t need to rush to get one if you’re an enthusiast. Are you under the age of 57? Then you’re younger than the age of the average DS 5 buyer in Australia.
The 60th anniversary in question is of the original 1955 DS that sent shockwaves through the industry, and which serves as the spiritual godfather of all that the brand named for it now does.
As with the Citroen range, the DS 5 gets a significant six-year warranty supported by six years of capped-price servicing and roadside assistance.
DS 5 pricing:
DS 5 specifications:
Read our review of the DS 5 here.