Back to Newsroom

DS 9 E-Tense first drive review

A serious hybrid like the 9 E-tense ensures the DS brand is doing just fine on its own four wheels.

The all-new DS 9 E-Tense hybrid

The all-new DS 9 E-Tense hybrid

First impressions count, right? Well, when it comes to the spanking new DS 9, you get a feeling you're looking at a cool rather than conservative set of wheels.

The French premium brand has launched this saloon to compete with the usual German "in" crowd. Yes, that's right, we're talking Audi, BMW and even Mercedes-Benz.

Weirdly, it's only the premium marques that have survived as saloons - most other makes with this shape died a while back. Why? Well, hatchbacks and estates are more practical, and then the SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) craze kicked in - and it's never waned. It seems most motorists in the UK prefer the high driving position an SUV provides.

Of course, if things get too fashionable, they become "common", and some people will buck against the trend just to stand out. In the automotive arena, these folk tend to be the ones who want to be perceived as "successful". This need often goes hand in hand with the dog-eat-dog, cut and thrust corporate world.

So, what we're saying is that the DS 9 will be bought - but it's more likely to be leased for business, and it'll undoubtedly appear as a choice on the company car list.

DS admitted to us at the DS 9 media launch that it doesn't expect to sell masses of the model. And that's excellent reverse psychology. Because being "rare" makes the car more desirable already.

Why, then, are there more BMW 3 Series' on the road than Ford Mondeos, you may ask? Well, it's about that good old word "perception" again. People in German cars - or in this case highfalutin French saloons - will feel "special" and "successful" - even if they're not. Perception and image, eh? We humans can be shallow creatures when we want to be.

Now, don't get us wrong. None of what we've said takes away the quality of DS' latest model. Far from it. Even if you couldn't give a fig about success, perception, and image, et cetera, the marque's flagship car will still please you. Let's explain why.

On the move, especially entering and exiting bends, there's barely any roll from the DS 9. And on the straights, you get nothing short of a sublime ride. You see, the booted car isn't that concerned about how fast it can get to 62mph. Instead, it cares about gracefully transporting you to your destination with minimal effort.

There is lots of power on tap if you need it - the plug-in hybrid E-Tense variant we drove will go from a standing start to 62mph in a mere 8.3 seconds. You won't be burying your foot into the carpet to achieve this, though - the 1.6-litre petrol unit and dual electric motor with battery combo make you feel too chilled to bother.

Want a deeper insight into how the hybrid stuff works? Okay, here we go. The DS 9 plug-in saloon houses an 11.9kWh battery pack hooked up to an electric motor churning out 110PS. That all sits alongside the above mentioned 1.6-litre petrol engine and a smooth as butter eight-speed auto 'box. Added together, the E-Tense puts down 225PS.

Even better, the E-Tense hybrid set-up means 33 miles can be achieved on electric juice alone - and that's from a solitary charge. It doesn't restrict you in terms of miles per hour either, as you can get up to 83mph while belching out absolutely nothing in terms of CO2.

DS's auto transmission makes for truly stress-free motoring, and if you want to travel about noiselessly on electrons, then reserve it for town and city driving. Using the DS 9 in this manner will save you forking out at the pumps - as long as you plug the saloon in to charge regularly.

The DS 9 E-Tense 225 Performance Line+, as tested here, will satisfy - we're prepared to go all out to say that. The model is furnished with posh 19-inch alloys, flush door handles, heavily tinted rear windows, and a shiny sabre badge on the bonnet. It looks the business.

Inside the DS, there's a large high-definition 12-inch touchscreen with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, as well as MirrorLink, navigation, wireless charging for your phone, voice recognition, DAB radio - and good old Bluetooth.

The French automaker's infotainment system reacts well to the slightest of inputs and, more importantly, it's easy to use. More interesting, though, is the infrared camera tech. This system "sees" cyclists, pedestrians, and even wild animals ahead of you - and projects their images into your line of sight. As we found out meandering around Oxford and the surrounding dark country roads, the technology works incredibly well.

Space in the DS' cabin is perfect for five-up, and it's a comfy car fore and aft. Also, the "Pearl" stitching tastefully highlights the upholstery's "watchstrap" design; and the high-quality trim of the dashboard and the door panels shouts nothing less than "luxury". Moreover, the DS 9's boot is excellently proportioned with the capacity for at least a couple of big flight cases - and a bunch of golf clubs.

The German premium saloon rivalling DS 9's weakness, though, is the asking price. At more than £46,000, all the usual Teutonic brands might be too hard to resist. Audi's A6, BMW's 5 Series - and even Korea's all-new-to-the-UK Genesis G80 are examples of the fierce competition the sophisticated French executive express faces.

Still, this is the United Kingdom, and being different is always appealing here. Therefore, it'll be interesting to see what the prospects are for the oh so credible and refreshing DS 9 E-Tense. All we can do is sit back for now and see what unfolds.

Spec panel
Model DS 9 E-Tense 225 Performance Line+
Price £46,100
Engine 1598cc 4-cylinder turbo petrol + electric (hybrid)
Power 225 PS
Combined MPG 256.8 - 176.6 (WLTP)
Max speed 149 mph (0-62mph in 8.3 secs)
CO2 emissions 33-35 g/km

About the Author

Tim Barnes-Clay