DS, which has relaunched in Ireland this year, is launching a range-topping DS 9 model and - break out the bunting and the celebratory cake of your choice - it's NOT an SUV. It's a (cue gasps of surprise and delight) a saloon!
Longer than the Peugeot 508
The DS 9 is built on the same EMP2 platform as sister brand Peugeot's slinky 508 fastback, and the two cars are closely related. Indeed, have a gander at the design of the DS 9's c-pillar and you'll see a tiny glimmer of exterior visual similarity to the 508. However, while the Peugeot is very definitely in the four-door-coupe corner, the DS 9 should be rather more commodious inside, thanks to a wheelbase that's 100mm longer than that of the 508's, and an overall length of some 4.93 metres, also significantly longer than the Peugeot.
The exterior styling looks very much like someone took the current DS 7 Crossback SUV and squashed it - no bad thing. From the big grille and slitty lights to the tapering rear end it's quite an elegant looking machine, if perhaps lacking the sheer beauty of the old Citroen C6 or CX models.
There are some nice exterior styling touches though, such as a 'Clous de Paris sabre' - a chrome line running up the bonnet, which is meant to look like a duelling sword. There are also little chrome flashes on the c-pillar, called 'DS Cornets' which are meant to look like the delicate little indicator housings of the original 1955 Citroen DS.
The DS 9 will be offered with mostly electrified powertrains - the E-Tense plug-in hybrid setup, which uses a 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine in combination with an 11.9kWh battery. That combo produces a robust 225hp, and DS claims that the 9 will go for as much as 54km on electric power if you fully charge the battery. The electric motor, on its own, provides 80kW (110hp) and 320Nm of torque, and if there's enough charge in the battery can push the DS 9 along at speeds of up to 135km.
360hp range-topping model
Following on from that, the DS 9 will, later on, be available with a 360hp plug-in hybrid setup, with four-wheel drive, and there will be a more basic 225hp petrol-only model too. All versions will come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.
It should be spectacularly comfy inside. There are Nappa leather seats, in DS's now-traditional 'watch-strap' design, along with soft Alcantara lining for the roof and door pillars, and crystal-like switchgear. All four seats get heating, cooling, and massaging functions.
There will be plenty of opportunities for interior customisation too, with a choice of three different cabin trims, named Inspiration Rivoli, or Inspiration Opera (after famous areas of Paris), or Inspiration Performance (not an area in Paris, sadly). Those come, variously, with touches such as pearl-stitching, or a steering wheel entirely trimmed in leather, or a dashboard clock made by staggeringly-expensive watchmaker B.R.M. There's also a Focal Electra sound system, specially developed for DS 9, which has new stainless-steel tweeter grilles among the fourteen speakers positioned around the cockpit.
In terms of tech, there's Level 2 lane-keeping steering and active cruise control, and a camera system that scans the road ahead, and warns the adaptive suspension of any lumps and bumps that might be coming up. There's also a Park Pilot system that can shuffle the DS 9 into a tight space for you, driver attention monitoring, a night-vision system, and active LED headlights.
The poise of a saloon
Béatrice Foucher, CEO DS Automobiles, said: "Since the launch of new brand DS in 2015, one of many goals that excited our team was being able to offer a large French saloon. Our ambition to embody French luxury expertise in a car led to the arrival of a new benchmark in the premium saloon segment, and this desire to convey French culture through a car is translated today into DS 9. We recognise that the DS brand is expected to feature in this class if to perpetuate all that it represents. We've employed all our expertise so that DS 9 is considered a benchmark in terms of comfort, style, elegance and exclusive desire. This project united our teams because it was a dream for all those who create DS on a daily basis. They gave everything to produce a model that's distinctive, with a DNA that's truly DS. For a saloon, poise is an essential quality. We created DS 9 to surprise and be demonstrative. Conceived in France with DS genes and a global purpose, it's fully aligned with DS lineage since the creation of our brand. Today we're proud to introduce DS 9 to roads around the world."
Thierry Metroz, Design director DS Automobiles, said: The aim to sell a large saloon in the purest tradition of French coachbuilding has always excited the DS Design Studio Paris. This desire appears today with DS 9. The silhouette plays out with a line that's unbroken. From the leading edge of the bonnet to the trailing edge of the boot. The sides are smooth and finely sculpted with the flush fitting door handles incorporated perfectly in the same colour. The headlights are connected to the rear lights with a pure and sharp character line to give the silhouette its tension. The cone shapes, as in the original 1955 DS, play a simple part by extending the roof as well as housing the tail lights. As a direct link to our last two concept cars we have branded the centre line of the bonnet with a sabre in guillochage metal. Exclusive to DS 9, it's a distinctive and identifying feature. At the rear, smoothness also stands out. Rear wings, badges and boot lid are formed into a single form. The delicate and chiselled lights are embedded within this surface. They make a strong contrast, bringing depth and relief. There is also the signature technology of 3D scales and the scrolling indicators to stage the lighting. The combination is emphasised by lateral sabres which are a pointer to great French coachbuilding of the 1930s. DS 9 launches a new interior. This is a desire to assert a vertical architecture which is both an expression of stature and elegance. The verticality accentuates the perception of width. The low seating and roofline strengthen the impression of the horizontal. This is accompanied by the elaborate positioning of lighting which scrolls from the doors towards the dashboard with eight different colour shades. In keeping with the DS bloodline, we wanted to create a benchmark saloon that respects the basics of the segment while developing some of its existing codes, faithful to the spirit of the avant-garde that drives us."