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First Drive: DS 9

By / 2 months ago / Road Tests / No Comments

Martyn Collins find the new DS range-topper is a refined alternative to established executive rivals.

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SECTOR Executive PRICE £40,615-£49,200 FUEL 40.4-176.6mpg CO2 33-159g/km

DS sales in the UK have so far been slow but new managing director Jules Tilstone has big plans.

Tilstone, who joined last December, believes that fleet is an important market for the brand. And a new range-topper in the form of the DS 9 should renew interest.

With the 9 plug-in hybrid premium saloon, DS is squaring up to popular executive choices, including Fleet World’s current Executive Car winner, the BMW 5 Series, and Audi’s great all-rounder, the A6. To do this, the 9 must stand out and it does just that at the front, with the large family diamond mesh grille, clever DS Active LED Vision headlights and the vertical LED running lights that snake up the front bumper.

There is plenty of smooth surface detailing at the sides, with a strong shoulder line and flush handles. At the back, there’s the distinctive diamond-pattern rear lights, spoiler and further chrome detailing. The indicators, which are set at the top of the rear screen in the C-pillars, are a nice visual link to the original Citroën DS.

Inside, the dashboard design follows the DS 7 and all models are well-equipped, with highlights including the 12-inch touchscreen and BRM clock perched on the top. The premium feel continues inside with all touchpoints covered with leather on range-topping Rivoli +, or Alcantara on Performance Line + that we drove – which is also expected to be the best-seller for fleets.

The DS 9 may share its EMP2 platform with both the DS 7 Crossback and Peugeot 508, but DS has stretched this Stellantis architecture to 4,930mm. Thanks to the extra length, knee room in the back of the DS 9 is abundant. The boot is also well-shaped, although a bit shallow on the E-Tense plug-in hybrid version we drove.

On the move, it’s the interior refinement that impresses first. All models are fitted with 3.6mm-thick acoustic glass, which noticeably cuts exterior noise. Engine noise is impressively low unless worked hard. Big screen or not, the infotainment, which is fitted across other Stellantis products, disappoints, as it is slow to operate.

It’s offered with either a 225hp PureTech petrol, or the 225hp E-Tense plug-in hybrid version we tested. A second 360hp plug-in hybrid will arrive later with intelligent four-wheel drive capability and carrying over the eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The 225hp E-Tense combines a 180hp 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol, with a 110hp electric motor. The 11.9kWh battery pack located under the rear seat gives a claimed 34 miles of range. We saw around 30 miles on the mixed test route, so that sounds about right. When it is time for charging, it takes under two hours via a 7kW wall box.

The 9’s focus is on comfort rather than dynamism, and if you’re okay with that, it excels. The steering is reasonably precise, but there’s more body roll than you might expect. However, the ride in general, like the rest of this package, is refined. There are five drive modes: Comfort, Economy, Sport, Electric-only and Hybrid.

Comfort is where the DS 9 feels happiest. Sport changes the throttle mapping and stiffens the ride, but only the changes to the throttle are really noticeable. Electric is for town use, with the Hybrid mode slipping between petrol and electric power almost seamlessly.

The Verdict
The DS 9 is attractive, refined and well-equipped. Sales of up to 900 cars a year is realistic, with 80% expected to go to fleet.

The Lowdown
Key Fleet Model: DS 9 Performance Line + E-Tense

Strengths: Styling, refinement, well-equipped

Weaknesses: Slow infotaiment, comfortable rather than dynamic to drive

Fleet World Star Rating
4/5

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Martyn Collins

Martyn has 18 years experience as a motoring journalist, working across a wide selection of B2B and consumer titles. A car enthusiast since his early years, Martyn has a particular interest in the latest models and technology and in his spare time enjoys driving his own Minis.