From the start, it has been repeated to us.
The original DS was a Citroën, and it will remain so.
Almost everything that made the model so iconic, such as avant-garde design and innovation in the service of comfort, remains the prerogative of Citroën.
The DS brand has inherited only one thing: French luxury.
And it has given itself the mission of reinventing this concept, of dusting it off, to make it what it ceased to be twenty years ago: an alternative to German domination in the premium world.
All of this you already knew.
But it is not so much to you that we repeat it as to ourselves.
As if to force us to accept it.
Because we still have a little trouble giving up the secret hope of one day seeing a neo-retro vision of the "real" DS.
We must therefore endeavor not to seek here the slightest reference to the illustrious Citroën.
However, it seems that even at DS, we could not completely resist.
Evidenced by the small flashing indicators at the upper corners of the rear window.
But other than that, you have to appreciate the car with a fresh look, with other references.
Those of the direct competitors of the DS 9 in terms of price: Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.
Even the Class E, Series 5 and A6, in terms of dimensions.
The art of detail
On the aesthetic level, we can not say that the comparison starts with fanfare. Because unlike the legendary Citroën that we must forget, the DS 9 does not really denote. At first glance, anyway. Its general forms are neither more conservative nor more original than those of its rivals. It is an almost classic sedan, except that it is the only one in the category not to adopt the "trunk" profile. But DS likes to draw parallels between its cars and luxury products Made in Paris. Leather goods, goldsmiths, haute couture… Products characterized by attention to detail.
In fact, when we approach, we begin to see that the DS 9 is far from ordinary.
There is the guilloché aluminum hood "saber", there are diamond effect headlights, there are tortoiseshell taillights, there are retractable door handles, the very elaborate 3D effect grille… Yes, the DS 9 may pass you by without your noticing.
But when you will be near it at a red light or in traffic, when you have time to observe it, all these little details will end up leaving a very good impression, and convince that indeed, the DS 9 is different. .
And then there's the cabin. It is indisputable: DS keeps its promise to offer an alternative vision of luxury. The different atmospheres offered are always of exquisite taste, perfect harmony and very high quality. DS underlines moreover a little treacherously that more and more often, even the Germans "control the costs" by planing here and there on the nobility of the plastics. This is not wrong, and it is true that finding unworthy plastics in the DS is not easy. But in short, whether it is the Alcantara, the quilted leather Channel bag style or the full leather, the skin stretched over the dashboard to the base of the windshield, the now famous seats with the watch strap look, the beaded topstitching, control elements (audio volume, electric windows, etc.) finely chiseled… No, really, it's beautiful. It is even highly distinguished. It is, we come back to it, really different. So much so that the interiors of other brands suddenly seem very standardized. What could be less exclusive than standardization?
The DS 9 also puts the package on the technological level.
It goes of course through the connected multimedia system could not be more complete, with a touch screen of generous dimensions.
As for the configurable digital dashboard, it leaves an ambivalent impression.
On the one hand, its design is perhaps too "special".
It is unsettling, almost disturbing at first.
On the other hand, it is also a way of affirming a difference.
Besides, the inventive dashboards, sometimes to the detriment of readability, were they not a signature of the house?
In the mood of time
On the mechanical level, the DS 9 is in tune with the times, since it only offers a classic 225 hp petrol engine (base model at € 47,700), and gives pride of place to the Plug-hybrid. in. Two versions are offered at launch. In the first, the 1.6 petrol and the electric motor together deliver 225 horsepower. In the second, the E-Tense 4x4, a second electric motor on the rear axle makes it possible to obtain the trifle of 360 horsepower. Connoisseurs have recognized the mechanics of the brilliant Peugeot 508 PSE. A 200 hp version is also mentioned. The DS of course receives 11.9 kWh batteries, which promise a maximum range of 48km, and allow the 225 horsepower version to be approved at 1.5 l / 100 km and 33-35 gCO2 / km.
We tried the 225 horsepower version, the mechanics of which are, on the road, as they are in the other vehicles of the group: vigorous, flexible, in short, pleasant.
Driving in electric mode is also particularly indicated here, since we are talking about a car with very high claims in terms of comfort.
And here we are ... Comfort, THE point that you can't help but dissociate the letters D and S.
In terms of livability, it's perfect. The DS 9 is based on the longest version of the platform which also carries the Peugeot 508, and it benefits from the most generous rear seat in its segment. The 9 also receives piloted suspensions as standard, prepared for irregularities in the ground thanks to scanners which read the road in front of the car. Coquetterie that one finds among the Germans only two categories above. The system is really effective. Not enough to completely erase the bumps and hollows, but enough to round off the angles significantly, and offer more padded comfort than elsewhere. But we still wonder if DS did not miss one or two opportunities.
For example, we would have seen a more power steering, even if it means sacrificing a little impression of precision for more smoothness. In that too, she would have differentiated herself from the Germans. But more importantly: why such firm seats when at Citroën, the body is caressed by magic foams? "Because we want to differentiate brands," replies DS. But who the hell is going to confuse the two brands again? And "because" of too soft seats? Frankly, isn't it weird to feel your body more welcome in a C3 than in a DS 9? We find it to be. And we think that would have been the ultimate difference compared to the German seats, often a bit too harsh.
The devil is in the details.
And although one detail goes wrong in the DS 9, all the others allow it to succeed in its challenge: to be different, without being less well.
Is this the return to glory of France in the premium universe?
We hope so, for the sake of diversity.
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The DS 9 E-Tense 225 in a few figures
The DS 9 E-Tense 225 in a few figures
Engine: 4 cyl., Gasoline, plug-in hybrid, 1.598cc;
Transmission: to the front wheels.
Gearbox: 8-speed auto
L / w / h (mm): 4.934 / 1.932 / 1.460
Empty weight (kg): 1.839
Boot space (l): 510
Tank (l): 42
Electric range (km): 48
0 to 100 km / h (sec.): 8.3
Max speed (km / h): 240
Mixed (l / 100km): 1.5
CO2 (g / km): 33-35
Price (€): 55.000