CITROEN HAS decided to make its popular and distinctive 'DS' range of cars as a standalone brand, with a new flagship model, the DS 5, now heading up the offering.

That means a new front end design without the famous Citroen double chevron. In essence, this is a hark back to the days of the famous DS line of Citroens which became the car of choice for celebs and royalty in France.

However, that also celebrated technical innovation and set new standards of comfort, for instance, with its hydro-pneumatic self-levelling suspension and was the first production car with modern disc brakes.

In French, DS is pronounced day-ess, the same as déesse, which means Goddess, so will the modern equivalents live up to the legacy?

The new DS 5 will feature two trim levels - Elegance and Prestige - along with a new THP 165 petrol engine, three BlueHDi Diesels and a Euro 6 compliant Hybrid 4x4 drivetrain.

Sixty years on from the unveiling of the original DS at the 1955 Paris Motor Show, a 1955 Limited Edition will also be available to celebrate the launch of the new branding. Specified in a new Ink Blue body colour, with unique badging, it is based on the Elegance trim level and offers additional equipment as standard, including 'Criollo' semi-aniline 'watch strap' leather seats and LED headlights.

The 1955 Limited Edition is priced at £29,600 with the latest BlueHDi 150 six-speed manual powertrain, which achieves CO2 emissions of 105g/km and can achieve 68.9mpg on a combined cycle.

The genetics are undoubted, but the DS branding faces a tough challenge in an ever more competitive marketplace. What I can tell you is, that the DS is quite different to any other car that I have driven recently.

The interior of the cabin is the main difference and it really does feel like the cockpit of an aircraft, from its carefully put together hi-tech dashboard, to its centre console controls which feature chiselled brushed aluminium push/pull buttons to the overhead console gantry, which has a myriad of controls and switches. It's like something from the Top Gun movie.

Some of the PR blurb refers to the DS as 'a concept car for the road' and it is not wrong. It certainly has the 'expressive, hypnotic styling' that it hoped to create. The new DS 5 features new light signature, with headlights combining LED and Xenon technologies, along with scrolling indicators. It is a distinctive look and it will be a family likeness rolled out to its smaller siblings in due course.

There's no doubt this is good looking car, but while the front seats have plenty of room, it could be argued that the rear passenger space has been limited in a style over substance dilemma for the design crew. Even the vertically challenged like myself found it difficult to get enough legroom in the back seat.

For the driver, though, there is no such problem and the latest-generation screen is easy to use. That includes new 'mirror screen' technology, which allows smartphone content onto the screen and relevant apps can be used while on the go.

The system also gives control of the car's main functions and there's a range of up-to-date technology for it to work with. There's a blind spot monitoring system, lane departure warning function, automatic high beam control, turning headlights, hill-start assist, stability control, intelligent traction control, a reversing camera and a head-up display.

Customers can choose between five Euro 6 engine and gearbox combinations, with torque of between 240 and 400Nm and the range will be extended by the end of 2015 with a new petrol engine, a THP 210 S and S six-speed manual.

Power of these ranges between 120 and 200hp and you can expect to get between 70.6mpg and 64.2mpg with the diesels, depending on your choice.

For this level of vehicle, I reckon an automatic gearbox is de rigueur and the DS (oops nearly called it Citroen there"!) has a pretty nifty six-speed change.

The upcoming petrol of 162bhp, with stop and start technology, can return up to 47.9mpg over a combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 136g/km.

The brand's use of Citroen's BlueHDi engine technology means that these use a selective catalytic converter to reduce emissions, helping it to comply with Euro6 regulations. According to a DS spokesman, this means there's a 10% decrease in fuel consumption compared to an equivalent Euro 5 engines and a saving of between 5 and 10 g/KM of CO2

Farmers will be familiar with this exhaust after treatment system from modern farm tractors and it is able to reduce the toxic NOX gases given out to the environment by up to 90%.

The 120 hp version is followed by one of 180 hp which ups the ante using a variable-geometry turbocharger and higher turbo and combustion pressure and even this will deliver 64.2mpg on the official 'combined cycle'. On the road, there's not a lot to chose between the two apart from the 120hp needs more effort when using the six-speed manual to get the best out of it.

From the business which invented the comfort of pneumatic suspension, you would expect the chassis and handling to be 'right' and you would be right. Pre-loaded linear valve (PLV) shock absorbers gain limits sudden changes in damping force, with the aim of smoothing out the lumps and bumps that modern Scottish roads can throw at them - and that's a considerable challenge.

That was born out on some twisting and, frankly, hideously maintained Lanarkshire roads, though I felt there was quite a bit of road noise feeding back into the cabin.

It is being set up as a premium brand and it certainly has a premium price to go along with that. My impression is that it is a bit overpriced - one of the top-spec' models can hit £32,000, with a starting price of £26,000 - and it will be the biggest challenge that the brand faces when up against Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes of similar size.

Those in rural areas might like to take a look at the hybrid 4 x 4 version, which will lead the range at a hefty £35k.