| 8°C Belfast

Citroen DS5: Beyond the norm

Cars of real character – that’s always been a Citroën hallmark. It’s a criterion that oozes from the flowing lines of the French company’s flagship DS5, and now you can have this stand out from the crowd car in hybrid form.

Finished in pearlescent white and with lashings of fake chrome inside and out as it was, some of my neighbours reckoned this French executive express to be a bit over the top – mobile bling, if you like – but I enjoyed every minute behind its plump steering wheel. It’s a car with an inbuilt feel-good factor.

Eye candy includes the choice of seven different pearlescent or metallic paint colours and six stylish alloy wheel designs, ranging from 16 inch in 19 inch.

Inspired by the world of aviation, the cabin’s standout feature is the sweeping cockpit roof, which features pilot-style overhead switchgear. The large glass roof – which is standard on DStyle and DSport models – is divided into three areas, with individual electrically operated sun blinds, allowing occupants to control the amount of light entering the cabin.

Close attention to detail throughout ensures an overall impression of refinement. Externally, panel fit is excellent and doors shut with a solid ‘clunk’. Inside, premium materials such as finest-grain ‘Club’ leather are used. There are nine upholstery options in cloth and leather, including the availability of two-tone colour schemes and unique to the market designs such as a classy ‘watchstrap’ effect on the seats.

The driver-focused cockpit fuses the driving position of a coupé with the finesse of a Gran Turismo. Highlights include a wraparound dashboard and wide central console, both ergonomically positioned.

The innovative retractable colour head-up display projects essential driving information – speed, speed limiter, and the cruise control and navigation settings – directly into the driver’s line of vision. On Hybrid4 models, the display changes from white to blue during ZEV mode.

Luxuries include a massage function for the driver’s seat and automatic dual-zone air-conditioning plus all the usual sometimes gimmicky kit you expect in this sector. But while it’s true that the more gadgets there are there is to go wrong it is tempting to have all those knobs and buttons to play with.

It’s a full-on five-seater. There’s plenty of legroom and a generous size boot, despite the space taken up by the extra batteries of the hybrid power system.

Performance is brisk, with a cited 131-mph top speed and an 8.3-seconds 0-62-mph acceleration time. Fuel economy is outstanding, with a claimed 7674.3 mpg in the combined cycle.

DS5 prices start from£19,995. You’ll need a cheque or credit line £32,700 to own the two-litre Sport hybrid that `I tested. It’s worth it.

Belfast Telegraph