Test: DS 9 E-Tense 225. My beautiful grief


Driving the DS 9 gave me a strange feeling: that of being very happy and very sad at the same time. I went to try the new large French sedan in its plug-in hybrid version in Champagne and I'll tell you everything:

Very happy…

Driving the DS 9 did indeed make me very happy – a feeling that also manifested itself when I handed over the keys to my copy. I had already gone to see the large French sedan (4.93 m!) in the studio last year but finally discovering it in natural light made me happy: the consensus is there, the DS 9 is a nice car. In the photos, I feared an imbalance between a very massive front end and a much more elusive rear, but the day spent circling around reassured me about the elegance of the DS. Family resemblance with the DS 7 Crossback is undeniable, with the headlights with three "diamonds", the vertical light signature and the grille set with chrome at its ends – which is also dressed in a curious pattern with a 3D parametric design. We love it or hate it, but that doesn't leave you indifferent. Finally, the bonnet is adorned with a guilloche "saber" in its center, the existence of which I forgot 0.06 seconds after discovering it.

At the rear too, the DS 9 imposes it while keeping the characteristic features of the DS 7, with the culmination of the very fine optics treated in scales, to my taste of absolute chic. Otherwise, the third brake light runs across the width of the trunk, the exhausts give me the pleasure of not being (too) dummy and the chrome sabers starting from the ends of the lights towards the profile bring this little touch of tinsel assumed to be found on other models in the range. Ah, and speaking of profile: the recessed door handles bring a rewarding touch to the car, and seem to me from memory to be more pleasant to handle than those of the DS 3 Crossback.

A very positive impression of the dress of the DS 9, and which will only intensify when one of the doors is opened. We sit on board and the very muffled slam of the door puts us in the scent: DS has put a lot of effort into the perceived quality of its DS 9. And there is quality, especially by having checked the option (to … € 4,950) from the “Opéra” interior. In this case, all (I mean the entirety) the dashboard and the door panels are covered with "Basalt Black" or "Ruby Red" Nappa leather with an exquisite patina effect; the headliner is lined with a beautiful black Alcantara. The seats are adorned with the traditional watch strap construction, while the rear passengers are taken care of with the two heated, massaging and ventilated side seats, while the central armrest is given finishes reminiscent of the rest of the passenger compartment. and additional USB sockets. Rear passengers probably won't want to get out, especially since the wheelbase is 2.90m (a record for the EMP2 platform, 11cm longer than a Peugeot 508) provides premium comfort, especially at the knees and feet. One thing is certain: the DS 9 knows how to receive.

A final point on the static part by specifying that the car photographed and described corresponds to the “Opera +” finish. The other available finish, called “Performance Line +”, plays a sportier touch with the abandonment of chrome on the exterior, while the interior prefers to stretch out from Alcantara. Here are some pictures of an example that I was able to drive as well:

An enticing static discovery, then. It is now time to start the car (as on the DS 7, the button is in the center of the dashboard and actuating it sees a BRM chronograph appear at the top of it) and to trace the Champagne roads aboard the the 225 hp E-Tense plug-in hybrid version – one of the three engine choices with the non-hybrid PureTech 225 and the nasty 360 hp 4 × 4 version which we will talk about very soon. The recipe is known in the ex-PSA range, since we find the association "1.6L PureTech 180 + 110 hp electric motor + 11.9 kWh battery" on the Peugeot 3008 & 508, among others. This said, my first time behind the wheel of a car powered by this GMP, and what a first time!

We're not going to beat around the bush: the DS 9 is very, very pleasant to drive. I had already loved driving the DS 7, remembering a Paris-Biarritz made with an arrow in Pullman comfort, but I'm not far from thinking that the sedan outclasses the SUV in this area. The DS 9 uses a lot of the latter's technologies, such as the Active Scan Suspension (a controlled suspension connected to a camera scanning the deformations of the road) or the Focal 515 W sound system, and adds its personal touch with four laminated windows. or even more soundproofing. The result ? Absolutely stunning comfort. In Comfort mode, there is no trepidation, no floating sensation that one could sometimes feel on board the DS 7. The seats maintain well, the driving position is ideal, the steering wheel is a treat to take in hand. In other words: I am well. And I am even better than that since my ears benefit, as I choose, from an exquisite operating silence or from an extremely well calibrated Focal sound system, allowing some audiophile follies. Even though the brake pedal is a bit too spongy for my liking, the presence of a “Brake” mode that increases regenerative braking clearly means that there is less use of it. Frankly, in “normal” driving, I really don't have much to say: the approval is of the highest caliber.

When the pace picks up, however, we notice that the automatic gearbox is not particularly in its element, with some slowness to downshift. And the still substantial weight of this DS 9 hybrid (1,839 kg!) Coupled with the elementary laws of physics make the large sedan fatally not very agile, even when the Sport mode is activated. You will understand: as much the DS does not care about large curves, as small sequences are less its trademark, where, in the absence of demonic agility, it will always remain very healthy and reassuring. Let this sporty little aside not distract you from the message I want to convey: driver and passengers alike benefit, aboard the DS 9, from an absolutely remarkable quality of life. Well done !

Last point on the dynamic part: the consumption – a chapter all the same interesting for a hybrid. I completed the first 110 km circuit with a result of 5.6 l / 100 km without paying special attention to my driving style and the second 30 km loop, more focused on eco-driving, will be sanctioned by an average consumption of 2.3 l / 100 km. It should be noted here that the 100% electric mode was not used on the two loops (the second, under these conditions, could perhaps have been entirely covered in this mode), where I preferred to alternate between the modes “Hybrid”, “Comfort” (my favorite) and “Sport”. In the first two modes, I would have perhaps liked a greater share of pure electric driving; the “Sport” mode, it seems to me, makes consumption go to the very remote confines of our Universe. But hey, we have nothing for nothing!

…very sad

Eh yes. “But why Jean-Baptiste, you just explained to us by a + b how wonderful the DS 9 was?” The DS 9 is a great car when it comes to style, roominess and comfort, I’m sure it’s true. But the DS 9… is four years late.

The X83 program (its codename) has indeed fallen behind due to external causes – including a small global pandemic – obscure stories of divorces, joint ventures and other complicated Chinese stuff. In fact, the great DS, although unveiled in early 2020, will not arrive in your garage until next September.

The second problem … is the car itself, or rather its technological background. The DS 9 indeed shares all its innovations and technologies with the DS 7, presented for the first time on February 28, 2017 (yes, the little one is already four years old). Four years, these days, that represents a huge technological gap. Suddenly, the central screen which has never broken bricks on the DS 7 is now completely dropped, the matrix headlights, however available on the small DS 3 Crossback, are not available on the DS 9, ditto for head-up vision, and so on and the best. Thus, even with a launch on the market a year ago, the DS would still have been dumped by its most recent competitors.

Third consequence of these consecutive delays: the DS 9 (let us repeat it, the flagship of the brand) will be, upon release, totally outdated by the DS 4 which will arrive globally at the same time. Because the little one has really benefited from its development and will offer a brand new central screen with a much more modern interface, matrix headlights, a super-mega-top head-up vision, more modern driving aids and even a extremely thin aerator system, allowing much nicer dashboards (that of the DS 9 does not have to be ashamed, eh, but it should be noted that the design and the implantation of its aerators is close to zero level aesthetics and sophistication).

I can hear the speech of the brand's communicators arguing that the technologies aboard the DS 9 are certainly without fuss but all useful and up to date and they are perfectly right: camera-controlled suspensions are still a luxury today. very little shared in the rest of the automobile production, the hybrid system is damn good, we can very easily do without matrix headlights in real life – especially when said headlights are pivoting and adaptive. But there you have it: it's not enough. The DS 9, let us repeat it once again, tops the DS range and, consequently, all ex-PSA ranges. Let's go even further: the DS 9 has a significant role as a standard-bearer within the fourteen (!!) Stellantis brands since DS belongs to the “premium” pole alongside Alfa Romeo and Lancia, the only brand in the world. above this pole being none other than … Maserati. You will understand: the DS 9 takes on a sacred role within this world group and, in this situation, cannot be satisfied with “in-the-know” technologies. We have to make people dream, show the way forward, in short, be the paragon that will trickle down to the rest of the product offering in the years to come. This is not the case with the DS 9 and it saddens me a lot.

I recently learned that this gear selector is called “Cobra” internally. And the “Cobra”, therefore, has been replaced by another selector, much smaller, with which the Opel Mokka, the Citroën C4 & C5 X and the new DS 4 are equipped. …

I kinda feel like I'm rewriting the article fromAudi e-tron Sportback last summer, in fact. Factually, both the e-tron and the DS 9 have very little to complain about. I had a great time with them and even got attached to them. It’s only when I start to lock myself in my own thoughts that I find fault with them: for Audi, the lack of fast charging infrastructure destroys its competitiveness compared to a gasoline or even a hybrid SUV; as for the DS 9, we want (I want?) to make her put on a costume that is too big for her. Top hearts ! The next one will be the right one.

Photo credits: Jean-Baptiste Passieux

I'm on Twitter: @JBPssx

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