Citroën DS5 – Aesthetic Genius

If you watched Avatar in its opening weekend before other people could tell you about it, you probably walked out of the cinema a little dumbfounded? It’s because you had just witnessed something never-seen-before; something that was extraordinary film genius.

Every now and then the world experiences these breathtaking moments of brilliance. Think on icons like Usain Bolt & Felix Baumgartner; or on unexplainable phenomenons like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. These examples are all people, but they all have the ability to take your breath away and make you feel alive even if just for a few seconds.

The Citroën DS5 is the same. I have never laid eyes on a car that inspired so many thoughts and dare I say it, emotions. From every angle the car is a remarkable prodigy that seems so ahead of its time. It’s a designer’s wet-dream turned into an even better reality. And it’s a real car in production and on sale in South Africa right now.

When the drama settles (it never quite ends) you realise the detail with which this car has come off the production line. Starting from the rear, the twin chrome tailpipe surrounds are like nothing you have ever seen. They’re dramatic and shapely and remind me of those on a Lamborghini Aventador. They sit on either side of a black strip made of a glossy material that is also used on the rear spoiler that juts out the top of the rear. It’s beautiful. The side profile continues the use of chrome detailing just below the doors that is accentuated by the mix of black and chrome 19” alloys. From the A-pillar to the front bumper, pronounced chrome ‘swords’ extend to separate the bonnet from the fender and it is here that I found myself the most gobsmacked. It’s just so different and detailed. 

This car was based on a concept car first shown to the public in 2005 and I must say, the real car is so much better looking than the concept. That doesn't happen often. 

While the exterior is bewildering there’s no letting up when you open the door. If anything, the interior detailing is even more 'awe' some. The leather seats feature a very cool watch-strap design with colour coded stitching to match. They’re supple and as always feature heated, electric, massage function comfort. The facia design and cabin in general was inspired by the aero industry but I get a sneaky suspicion that some plane manufacturers have probably taken a note out of the Citroën book. It’s properly beautiful in here with distinctively crafted buttons and switchgear for the windows and traction control. Look up and there are a few more switches, 3 of which operate the electrically adjustable blinds revealing an awesome glass roof. That’s one blind each for the driver and passenger and one larger one for the rear seat. It’s insanely brilliant.

There are some problems with the DS5: the car I drove was the THP 200 Sport version and it featured the brushed metal ‘grey aluminium’ trim. In all honesty, this was just too much. It was too polished and a little brash in my opinion. A simpler, more plain brushed metal would have been fine, but that is a personal preference and this option is not standard by any means. I would spec my DS5 differently.

There are more problems when you wipe your mouth, realise this is a car and actually drive it. The first issue is that the ride is way too hard. The 19 inch low-profile wheels don’t help and I cannot say the drive is comfortable on anything less than very good roads. If the car was blisteringly quick and handled like a sportscar, then I wouldn’t mind but it doesn’t handle exceptionally at all which brings me to the next problem. The steering is very dead and putting down 147kW of power to the front-driven wheels doesn’t inspire any confidence. The engine is the same high pressure 1,6 turbo unit that is used across the cars in the stable as well as by Mini and Peugeot. So it's a good engine with the typical qualities of a turbo, but it's the way it puts that power down that was disappointing. I didn't enjoy the drive.

Citroën has thrown out the design rulebook and made a car that is like a mobile piece of art. I wouldn’t even call the DS5 beautiful, but rather striking, breathtaking genius. It has 4 doors and a boot which makes it fairly practical should you be looking to buy a stylish, unique looking 'family car'. But they seem to have forgotten to use the same thinking in designing how this mobile flamboyance struts it’s stuff on the road. That's it's only shortfall. 

At just under R400, 000 the big question is, would I buy it or recommend you buy it? At this price range, this is the league of 3 series, C-classes and even VW GTi 35 editions and brand new B-Classes. My answer would be a NO. For me, the genius, exclusive design is amazing but I am most interested in the way a car drives and for this reason, I feel a little let down by this Citroën. The DS5 is not terrible to drive, but it lacks the lustre that is found in every other aspect of the car.

On the design and presence scale though, nothing comes close.

AM -


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