- Exquisite interior and refined comfort for all occupants
- Pleasant to drive with instant acceleration off the mark
- Good economy if full EV range is utilised
- Some rivals are more dynamic in performance, ride and handling
- Steering could offer more driver feedback
- No single-pedal driving option
DS recently launched its all-new flagship model called the DS 9. The executive saloon car was available powered by a 225hp petrol unit or a 225hp petrol-hybrid option. Now there is a 250hp hybrid version that actually replaces the 225hp model and a bigger 360hp model that also brings 4x4 capabilities to the mix.
Whichever model the customer chooses, there are two richly-equipped trim levels called Performance Line+ and Rivoli+ with prices starting from £47,100 for the 250 Performance Line+ and rising to £57,200 for the 360 Rivoli+ model.
The four-door saloon oozes class and boasts one of the finest interiors on the market. It also delivers when put through its paces with a good combination of dynamic or eco driving characteristics to suit any driving style or requirement.
On The Road
The DS 9 E-Tense 250 which replaces the existing 225 model, is powered by a four-cylinder, 200hp PureTech petrol engine, linked to an 80kW (110hp) electric motor. With a new 15.6kWh battery, the car can deliver up to 43 miles of electric-only range on the WLTP urban cycle or 38 miles on a combined run.
The car’s instant acceleration out the starting blocks and strong power levels results in a 0-62mph sprint time of 8.1 seconds with a top speed that is electrically-limited to 149mph. It can be driven in EV-only mode at speeds up to 84mph.
When it comes to on-road performance, the DS 9 E-Tense is very polished with a real emphasis on comfort and refinement.
But it’s happy putting in quite a shift too and there are drive modes called Electric, Comfort, Hybrid and Sport that alter the characteristics and responses of the vehicle.
The steering is generally well weighted with ample driver feedback and the eight-speed automatic gearbox is nicely timed. In addition, there are steering wheel-mounted paddles for added driver engagement.
A ‘B’ mode on the gear lever can be selected and that increases the levels of regenerative braking, and although there is no single-pedal driving, it does a very decent job of recouping energy to boost the battery levels.
In addition, an E-Save system can be used to conserve the EV-only range and the EV mileage can also be boosted from the petrol engine.
The DS 9 E-Tense is deceptively agile for its length and meanders through town without a care in the world. Add a little pressure to the throttle as you hit the faster roads and the petrol engine kicks in seamlessly delivering the added punch necessary.
Our test car featured the optional DS Active Scan suspension system which guarantees a smooth ride. It scans the road ahead for any uneven surfaces or potholes and automatically adjusts the dampers accordingly to smooth out the creases.
The DS 9 delivers excellent balance and grip both in and out of tight bends and there is little sign of body sway no matter how enthusiastically you attack the corners. Our car was riding on 19-inch alloys wheels which seemed a perfect match. Go larger and the ride would be compromised as well as the range.
The vehicle offers excellent levels of insulation which protects occupants from any road rumble, engine or wind noise. In fact, it is one of the quietest and most refined cars on the road – even when pushed on.
A button on the gear lever introduces automatic parking assist which is very handy as this car stretches 4,934mm in length.
The DS 9 is the French carmaker’s flagship model, and as such it needs to stand out. And it does just that with quite an imposing front end.
It oozes class but not in a garish way with a sleek streamlined body, chrome DS wings, a 3D-effect grille, dark tinted rear windows, gloss black door mirrors, flush fitting door handles, E-TENSE badging on the bonnet and an E-TENSE monogram on the tailgate.
There are DS Active LED Vision headlights that follow the direction the steering wheel is turned, plus 19-inch Versailles alloy wheels to complete the high-end design. There’s no doubting this is a premium-styled saloon.
Move inside and this is where the wow factor really kicks in. It is pure quality and sophistication throughout with fine leather seats that are power-operated. The front and rear seats can be heated or ventilated and even offer a massage function with various settings.
It all feels very mature and grown up with more emphasis on comfort once again with padded, soft touch surfaces, decorative inlays and piano black surfaces. It is definitely less of a hooligan than some of its German rivals that’s for sure.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
With powered seats and a manually adjustable steering wheel, it doesn’t take long to find a great driving position. Then it’s worth taking a minute to take stock of the wealth of on-board tech at your disposal.
A 12-inch, high-definition touchscreen is the main focal point and there are quick access keys to the TomTom navigation system, music and phone etc.
The 14-speaker Focal audio system delivers pitch-perfect sound and there is a fully-configurable 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that displays all the vital driving data.
Mirror Screen introduces Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connection and there is also wireless charging, a DAB radio, voice recognition and lots more besides, including the traditional BRM R180 clock that folds out from the top of the dashboard.
I did find the infotainment system was a little sluggish at times, but generally it worked well enough with all controls, dials and readouts easy to operate on the fly in the driver-focused cockpit.
The chunky, flat-bottomed steering wheel looks and feels nice, as does the large gear lever.
All-round visibility is good but not great, mainly due to the large rear headrests that block the view through the back screen a little.
Space & Practicality
The DS 9 is an executive saloon that has been developed with all of its occupants in mind. And that means anyone sitting in the back gets the same high level of luxury as those up front. For example, back seat passengers have their own individual climate control system, along with heated and ventilated seats, plus full massaging set-up.
The car stretches 4.9 metres in length and 1.8 metres across, and with its large wheelbase, there is bags of space in the back of the car. In addition, the generously-sized boot means there will be little restrictions when it comes to luggage limits.
The boot, which is accessed via a powered tailgate, can swallow 510 litres of luggage and the 60:40 split rear seats can be lowered to increase the storage capacity even further. Nets and straps help prevent items rolling around in the boot.
However, if you opt for the Lounge pack as featured on our test car, the rear seats do not fold forward, but there is a ski hatch.
Elsewhere storage options include a deep glovebox, practical central cubby bin, seat back nets, front and rear cup holders and door pockets.
The on-board 7.4kW charger enables zero to 100 per cent charging in two hours and 23 minutes.
The latest DS 9 E-Tense line-up consists of the 250 Performance Line+ costing £47,100 with the Rivoli+ priced at £50,200. This was the car we tested.
If you want extra power, plus 4x4 ability, then the DS 9 E-Tense 360 Performance Line+ costs £54,100 while the high-end Rivoli+ is priced at £57,200.
The carbon emissions output for the DS 9 E-Tense 250 are 26g/km while the WLTP tested fuel efficiency figure is 257mpg. This figure would only ever be achievable if the car’s EV range was used to its full potential and the vehicle was charged regularly.
As the DS 9 E-Tense costs more than the Government’s £32k cap, it will not be eligible for any plug-in car grants, but owners will make numerous savings along the way.
For example, the 26g/km CO2 figure would result in a first-year road tax bill of just £10, increasing to £145 after 12 months. But owners of hybrid cars costing in excess of £40k do have to pay an additional premium car levy of £335 for the first five years.
With attractive Benefits in Kind ratings, the car would also prove beneficial to company car drivers.
The insurance rating for our DS 9 E-Tense 250 test car is group 39.
Quality & Reliability
DS was formally known as the posh arm of Citroen, but it took the step to trade as a stand-alone brand back in 2015 (2012 in China). With that in mind, it is still quite new when it comes to long-term reliability details, but the French manufacturers are performing well in that area of late.
DS generally scores highly in customer satisfaction surveys and has even beaten the German marques in several studies.
The car certainly looks and feels substantial in its build with a solid design and tough switchgear. The upholstery has been developed using the finest leather and that too should survive the test of time.
For peace of mind, the DS 9 comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty with options to extend.
Safety & Security
Due to its fairly low volume sales, the DS 9 has not and is unlikely to be tested for a Euro NCAP safety rating. But the vehicle is packed with safety features and driver assist aids that help protect occupants and prevent accidents happening in the first instance.
These include blind spot detection, lane keep assist, a full suite of airbags, hill start assist, cruise control with speed limiter, an extended emergency braking system, front and rear parking sensors, traffic sign recognition and a DS Connect box emergency and assistance system.
A DS Night Vision system uses an infrared camera that is hidden in the front grille to scan the road in real time. It can detect pedestrians, vehicles and animals up to 100 metres away so the driver has ample warning of the hazard.
An alarm and immobiliser will help keep thieves at bay.
DS is taking on the big guns, especially the German marques, with its executive DS 9 saloon car. And while the name may not be so recognizable, it brings exceptional luxury and refinement to a segment that is often dominated by performance.
And it can produce the goods when faced with the open road too. Only time will tell whether or not its unique appeal will hit the spot with buyers.