It's a miracle that the DS 9 even exists, because in Europe there is little demand for French limousines. In any case, car sales in the D segment are slowly declining. We appreciate that DS is trying anyway and is not afraid to fish in the same customer pool as the BMW 3-series and the Volvo V60 - two mid-range cars that are still doing well in the Netherlands.
The design of the nearly five meter long DS 9 is a happening. The designers sketched a stylish sedan and indulged in a prominent grille, numerous chrome accents and recessed handles. They opened a can with subtle references to the illustrious 1955 predecessor. For example, the original Citroen DS had turn signals on both sides of the roof and the DS 9 has orange position lights there. They are not allowed by law to blink and are mainly there for 'fun'. But also to point out the location of the rear door to passengers in the dark. The black roof also refers to the past.
The DS 9 has a large wheelbase of 2.9 meters. It is on the new EMP2 platform, which distinguishes it from the current Peugeot 508. The long wheelbase increases its sales opportunities in China (where the car is built) and we tall Dutch people are happy with it. Right in the back you have so much legroom that it is tempting to hire a driver. Our test car has the Opera interior, with a luxurious armrest including controls for the massage function and an extra button to slide the passenger seat forward for more legroom.
We prefer to send ourselves. The DS 9 will pamper you with its lush suspension comfort, whisper-quiet cabin and smooth plug-in hybrid powertrain. A camera near the interior mirror 'reads' the condition of the road surface and adjusts the suspension and shock absorption accordingly. This removes the sharp edges of speed bumps and transverse ledges. The limousine is at its best on the highway, because thanks to the smooth suspension comfort and the insulated cabin in which you hardly hear any wind or rolling noises, the DS flagship almost seems to float over the road. The feeling of floating is a cliché for French cars that often refers to a soothing heaving body, but in this case it's about the fact that you feel or hear little of the outside world.
We do have something to say about the front seats. They are more than fine, but they are not a masterclass in exquisite chair architecture. The massage function and the extendable seat cannot hide the fact that they are somewhat shapeless and therefore do not fit closely to your body. Plus, they don't feel exactly soft. In a French limousine you expect to settle down in an armchair, but in the DS 9 you just clap your behind in a chair.
DS always delivers its flagship as a plug-in hybrid. In theory you have the best of both worlds. It is powerful and fast when the 1.6-litre petrol engine with 180 hp and the 110 hp electric motor put their shoulders to the wheel (together 225 hp), or just whisper quiet and economical. However, do not confuse powerful and fast with sporty. Yes, the E-Tense 225 has a sports program and sprints to 100 in 8.3 seconds, but the steering is too vague to deliberately seek out winding roads. In terms of driving characteristics, comfort is clearly number one.
DS communicates a battery capacity of 11.9 kWh and a maximum electric range of 48 kilometers. Our acquaintance is too short to say anything meaningful about the consumption. Something that mainly depends on the charging discipline of the owner. We do notice that after draining the battery and resetting the trip computer, the fuel consumption does not immediately rise to Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV-like heights.
Are you not happy with 225 hp power or 48 kilometers of electric range? Then know that a more powerful DS 9 with 360 hp will follow at the end of 2021 and a version with a larger electric range of about 60 kilometers at the beginning of 2022.
Strange design choices can give a car character. Such as the 'fake indicators' at the C-pillars. But the DS 9 also has a few things that bother us. Like the wide center tunnel; for a car with a lot of legroom in the back, the driver is not very spacious. And why was there budget for a rotatable clock on the dashboard, but not for a decent satellite for the adaptive cruise control? The plastic prong feels cheap.
The prices of the DS 9 start at 57,890 euros for the Performance Line+. A chic name for the current base model. The equipment is anything but basic, with the aforementioned shock absorption that 'reads' the road surface, advanced LED headlights and a 12-inch touchscreen with navigation.
You wonder why you would pay 60,790 euros for the DS 9 Rivoli + and the answer is adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera and the front seats with extendable seats, heating and a massage function. But the main reason for choosing the Rivoli + version is that you can then order the Opera interior with red leather for 4950 euros. If you don't dare, the DS 9 delivers an 'abundance' of black leather for the same money.
The DS 9 gives me a little bit of the feeling of driving a Mercedes S-class. It has very comfortable suspension, the cabin is whisper quiet and you have enough legroom in the back to use it as an executive car. That's where the comparison ends, because a Mercedes S-class costs more than double. But by fully committing to comfort, plug-in hybrid technology and leather as far as the eye can see, the DS 9 distinguishes itself from its competitors.
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