Vast luxury or fast luxury?
The 9 is DS's flagship and the model proudly exudes that! After all, this is no adventurous SUV or disguised family car, but rather a dignified, traditional sedan. This also makes it clear what purpose DS has in mind with the 9. This car is meant to cover very long distances in maximum comfort. Thanks to its very long wheelbase, the DS 9 can even be used as a chauffeur-driven car.
The big difference from current offerings is in the style. The DS 9 is thoroughly French and this is especially evident in its design. Most luxury sedans have clean lines and a businesslike, confident look. The 9 also has a confident look, but the big Frenchman owes it to elegant lines and refinement. Moreover, there is due consideration for its family history, as details of the Citroen DS (1956 - 1975) recur in this incarnation. The best example is the rear turn signals in the window pillar high up next to the rear window.
Inside, the DS 9 is a veritable cocoon of French charm. In some versions, the extravagant French "o la la" content might be too high. The slightly subdued "Performace Line" will therefore appeal most to the average British buyer. But even then, the DS 9 is unlike anything else. Wherever possible, triangle patterns recur, special materials, colours or finishes have been used. For instance, the technique used for the stitching comes from the fashion industry to achieve a unique accent.
Thanks to the aforementioned long wheelbase (289 cm), space in the rear is generous. To make your stay in the rear as pleasant as possible, a dedicated climate control system can be found here. The rear seats are equipped with seat heating and massage functions. Due to the popularity of tablets and mobile phones, DS does not have screens in the rear on the options list; they would be obsolete in 2022. On special request, however, a French specialist can supply a fridge or bar in the back. The front seats are large and well adjustable, making the driver comfortable even on long distances.
All the attention to design sometimes comes at the expense of logic. During the first encounter, it therefore takes a while to find the necessary controls. For instance, the windows are operated with buttons on the centre console, the adjustment of the outside mirrors is almost under the steering wheel and the button to start the engine is in the middle on top of the dashboard. Both the display behind the steering wheel and that of the infotainment system continue the style of triangles. Everything therefore looks beautiful, but does not always work logically. Moreover, all the animations and overlays are pretty, but also time-consuming.
Equipment is complete and modern, with the night vision camera and Focal audio system deserving special mention. The various driver assistants, on the other hand, were perceived less positively. Along with a frighteningly loud bell, a "beware" message appeared several times during the test drive. However, never did the electronics indicate what was wrong. An object on the road surface? Speed control? Flat tyre?
E-Tense 360 4x4
The reason for hitting the road again with the DS 9 shortly after its first introduction is the introduction of a sportier version. The team at "DS Performace", which until now has only dealt with DS's motorsport activities, has modified the handling. Thus, the suspension has been lowered, the track width increased and the shock absorbers and dampers have been made firmer. The electronic stability system gives more freedom (in sports mode) and the front brakes have become stronger.
The biggest change concerns the drivetrain. Like every other DS 9, the "E-Tense 360 4x4" is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powered by a petrol engine and an electric motor. For this sporty version, a second electric motor is added for more power (360 hp / 520 Nm) and all-wheel drive. The latter feature is useful with such a high power output to actually use the power in a variety of conditions.
The result of all the modifications is obvious. In sport mode, this stately sedan feels more agile and lighter than its looks or technical specifications suggest. Despite the weight (1.9 tonnes), roadholding is excellent and, thanks to the precise steering, the driver naturally feels where the limits are. When the trio of engines work together, power is delivered with eagerness. The 1.6-litre petrol engine then plays the leading role and the electric motors serve as "boosters". Yet the DS 9 is never wild or playful. With this big car comes big performance and therefore a certain dignity is always maintained.
Only when it comes to braking does the DS 9 betray that this is still a luxury touring car and not a sports car. The brakes are strong enough to spontaneously lock all wheels, but that does not mean that this heavy sedan then comes to an immediate stop.
For comparison purposes, the "E-Tense 250", which replaces the previously introduced "E-Tense 225", was also driven. Of the difference in power (250 hp instead of 225 hp), little or nothing is noticeable in practice. The difference with the 360 hp version is big, but even the "simplest" DS 9 performs fine. Because the standard DS 9 invites a calm and smooth driving style, 64 km could be covered entirely electrically. After that, the 9 falls back to the petrol engine and this is quite noticeable. From vibration-free, the driveline goes to low-vibration and from quiet, the noise level in the cabin goes to quiet.
With both the "E-Tense 250" and the "E-Tense 360 4x4", the same route was driven with the same driving style and with a full battery at the start. Apart from the difference in electric range, so was the difference in consumption. The +/- 150 km route took 6.6 litres per 100 km with the fast version. The "250" needed 5.6 litres per 100 km for that. However, with consistent charging, consumption can be reduced to zero.
The DS 9 now also comes in an extra sporty version with 360 hp plug-in hybrid powertrain and all-wheel drive. The base version now delivers 250 instead of 225 hp. Driving both cars in direct succession, the difference between the 360 and 250 is abundantly clear. With the "E-Tense 360 4x4", DS now has a car that stands out not only with its design, but certainly also with its driving characteristics. This plug-in hybrid is seriously fast when all three (!) engines join forces, but is actually among the most comfortable cars of its kind when driven purely electric. Thanks to major adjustments to the suspension, the "360" communicates better with the driver, making the experience more intense.
In the "E-Tense 250", the emphasis is entirely on comfort. Here, chassis technology is used to maximise the distance between the luxury cocoon and the outside world. The hybrid drive provides more peace and smoothness than a comparable car with only an internal combustion engine can deliver.
DS is therefore another step closer to its goal: shaking up the luxury segment by offering vast as well as fast luxury.
- Distinctive design
- Modern, rich equipment
- Comfortable, but also sporty
- Sudden, unclear warnings of danger
- Not (yet) available as a 100% electric car