Personalised like a tailored suit
The most important news is: the DS9 is not an SUV! And that sets the tone: it is about luxury and nothing but luxury. Just as a model will appear on the catwalk in high heels rather than boots, it also makes sense that DS' flagship model is not a luxury SUV. To put a technical spin on it: a low car is quieter because of its lower drag and more stable thanks to its lower centre of gravity.
The shape is modern and streamlined, but what makes a DS really special is the finish. For instance, the logo on the nose extends over the bonnet, in a chromed line finished with a diamond pattern (like luxury watches). As with the first (Citroën) DS from 1955, the rear indicators are incorporated into the line that runs along the roof and ends at the rear window.
For the equipment and decoration, DS does not speak of "versions", but of "collections" (as in fashion). "Rivoli" (after a district in Paris) stands for luxury, with vibrant colours, lots of leather, special stitching and accents as would be used in clothing. How this turns out, however, depends heavily on the shade chosen. A Rivoli with black leather interior is reminiscent of a dubious French nightclub, while the test car with a wine-red interior indeed gives an association with the fashion world intended by DS.
For those for whom the Rivoli version is too much of a good thing, there is the "Performance" version. This, with sleek alcantara, appeals more to the European buyer, while the most extravagant versions are mainly aimed at China.
At 493 cm long, the DS 9 falls between two segments. The DS 9 is larger than an average business car (Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4), but not as large as true executive limousines (Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6). Thanks to the wheelbase of just under 3 metres, interior space is excellent. In the back, plenty of legroom is available. Moreover, the passenger seat can easily be moved forward with a button on the side to turn plenty of legroom into plenty of legroom.
Depending on the version, individually controlled air conditioning and seats with massage function can be found in the rear. In short, DS also sees the 9 as a possible chauffeur-driven car.
The equipment is roughly the same as that of DS's other big model: the DS 7. Thus, a modern audio, communication and sat nav system is available whose menus are as creatively and uniquely designed as the rest of the car. Optionally, one can opt for an audio system from French specialist Focal. The sound of this is crystal clear, beautifully distributed across the space, but understated.
Unusual, but no less useful, is the night-vision camera. The image of this appears in the display behind the steering wheel, which generally displays speed. As soon as a cyclist, pedestrian or animal is detected, the image of the night-vision camera appears prominently. Thick red outlines further highlight the danger. Of course, the DS 9 can assist with braking, steering and acceleration. This is noticeable, but at the same time so modest that it is never perceived as distracting.
The DS 9 has a plug-in hybrid powertrain offering a choice of 225, 250 or 360 hp. First, the 225 hp variant was driven. Thanks to the electric motor, it moves effortlessly, smoothly and, of course, whisper quietly. Then, around 30 km (48 km according to the brochure) can be driven entirely electric, after which the petrol engine takes over. With many plug-in hybrids, this feels like a loss, but the DS 9 remains almost as quiet and graceful
That is, as long as driving is calm and smooth. When the petrol engine has to exert itself, an engine noise is audible, and because this is a relatively small engine (2.0-litre four-cylinder), it does not give the deep sound that belongs to a car like this. Performance is no less; even the "entry-level" 225 PS / 360 Nm is sprightly and lively.
For comparison, the 360 hp version was also driven. At low speeds, little difference is noticeable, but when the accelerator is pressed deeper, this sportier version clearly has more clout. When the accelerator is then kept resolutely on the floor, this stately French car is even downright fast. Besides: the 225 and 250 hp variants have front-wheel drive and are easy to tempt into wheel spin. The "E-Tense 360" has all-wheel drive and is therefore better able to release its power under varying conditions.
As with any other plug-in hybrid, actual consumption depends on the frequency of charging. Those who charge faithfully every 30 to 40 km will not consume any petrol. The less charging is done, the higher the consumption.
The original DS from the 1950s owed its success in part to a unique suspension system. Because of the complexity and associated costs, similar systems are only found on the very largest and most expensive cars today. In addition, it is used on very heavy (electric) cars, which can actively use it to disguise their (over)weight.
Yet DS argues that it can match the comfort of yesteryear with simpler technology. While DS uses traditional steel springs, these are adjustable. A computer scans the road surface in front of the car (only in "Comfort" mode). Even before an unevenness needs to be dealt with, the suspension can therefore be adjusted to best handle ripples in the road surface. Very special: just like the original DS, this modern variant also has a larger track width at the front than at the rear, as this would provide an ideal combination between stability and agility.
In practice, all this translates into a unique balance between comfort and communication. Some luxury cars create such a distance between driver and technology that the driver is hardly involved in driving. Conversely, too much communication makes driving tiresome. Only in fast corners does the "9" briefly misbehave and then lean on one leg. In all other cases, on the contrary, the DS is grand, capable and stable. In doing so, the DS 9 behaves like a good butler: it makes life easier, but the boss is always in control.
What is DS capable of when there are no restrictions? To not much more than the brand has now shown with its existing models! Technically, the DS 9 offers nothing new. The big difference is that DS's approach comes into its own much better in a larger model. In doing so, things like sound insulation and materials are at an even higher level.
The main added value of the DS 9 is in its feel. A high-end car is not chosen as a simple means of transport from A to B, but as a dream car or status symbol. When it comes to styling, appearance and image, the DS 9 has a lot to offer. Technically, the DS 9 is not inferior to the competition, but the style is completely different and therefore appeals to a new target group. In short: if DS suits you, wear it!
- Distinctive design
- Extremely comfortable
- Rich, modern equipment
- Not (yet) available as a 100% electric car
- Cannot automatically distribute energy in battery optimally over route