Nothing is as difficult as positioning a brand new model in a market that is particularly conservative. PSA has therefore thought very hard about the introduction of the DS 9, which is all about luxury, design, space and comfort. But which customers will it seduce?
With its 2,900 mm wheelbase and 4.93 metres total length this grande routière has the same dimensions as the Audi A6. And yet DS sees its flagship model as a contender in the premium D-segment, where the BMW 3-Series and the Mercedes C-Class reign supreme.
They are about 20 centimetres shorter and their wheel axles are 5 to 6 centimetres closer together. “That is the big advantage of the DS 9: it is a lot bigger and offers a lot more equipment. Other USPs are its refinement, its exceptional design and the unique customer experience we offer with DS Automobiles”, Bastien Schupp, Global Marketing Director DS Automobiles, told us during the presentation. In other words: for the price of a naked, smaller 3-Series, you get a lavish DS 9.
Striking but not revolutionary
With the 9, DS didn’t try to create a new type of car, like Citroën tried with the revolutionary DS 5 – but its snout has many design touches that make it special. The trademark of DS is the diamond motif, which is repeated in the radiator grille and the LED headlights. Another striking feature is the thick chrome strip that extends over the bonnet from the grille to the windscreen like a thick central vein.
Even more chrome can be found in the rear wing, where a kind of curved sabre supports the rear light units and continues into the boot, underlining its coupé traits. At the top of the C-pillars are so-called “DS cornets”: chromed horns which, with their integrated lights hint at the original DS from the fifties.
New and yet recognisable
The stately yet sophisticated look of the body is reflected in the interior by chic materials, nice design touches and a large central display for the infotainment. DS had been given carte blanche to make the dashboard unique, yet it doesn’t catch the eye like the Peugeot 508’s does while certain PSA ingredients clearly come to the fore.
An example is the infotainment, which is certainly up to the job and has been spruced up a bit, but in terms of speed, graphics and ergonomics it doesn’t distinguish itself from the Peugeot 508 and therefore can’t match the latest systems from Germany. Also the control satellite for the cruise control on the left side under the steering wheel has been carried over. A pity because you have to operate it blind – i.e. by touch. We also wonder about the position of the switches for the electric windows. They are on the centre console, just like in a Mercedes W124 from the 80s.
The ultimate tourer
Apart from that the DS 9 is very pleasant to drive. In the Rivoli version with Opera pack, the cabin is upholstered in exquisite nappa leather as far as the eye can see. The seats – with built-in heating, cooling and massage function in the front and rear – feature a very graceful watch strap motif, while the door panels and dashboard are adorned with fine stitching.
If there is one area in which the DS 9 raises the bar, it is comfort. To start with, the interior is incredibly quiet. Hardly any wind or rolling noise penetrates the cabin and only when the petrol engine is revved up, some less pleasant decibels reach your eardrums. Besides, the seats are a blessing for your bum and your back. The astonishing filtering power of the suspension also invites you to travel. A Mercedes S-Class with air suspension is the nec plus ultra, but this much more modest French car digests cobblestones, potholes and speed bumps almost as easily.