DS Divine highlights styling and technology of future DS cars
Front nose treatment invokes current Citroen DS5 design
Production version could replace DS4 and DS5
Rear screen is blocked by skin that moves at speed to boost aerodynamics
Interior is designed to show off French flair
Simplified grille is likely to make production
Official images show interior options
There are three interior treatments - this is Parisienne Chic
Launched as the Divine DS at the tail end of 2014, this concept car was created to show the future styling direction for the now standalone DS brand, as well as encapsulating all of the brand’s ideals into one vehicle.
As such, it will never make production in this form – but it is crucially important if DS is to break free of its mainstream Citroën-derived shackles and establish itself as a credible player in the premium market, fighting for sales with Audi, BMW, Mercedes and the like, over the next five years or so.
The concept is based around a fairly standard C-segment shape, chosen because the firm views it as the most challenging – and potentially rewarding - sector in which to compete, as well as one in which it has had success already. Little wonder that rumours suggest a vehicle of the Divine’s proportions could neatly replace today’s DS4 and DS5 in time.
Although there’s no official confirmation, insiders also suggest that DS’s confirmed six-strong line-up, due to be launched by 2020, will include a large and a small SUV, a large and a small saloon car and a replacement for the successful DS3 hatchback.
The core values highlighted by Divine DS are, according to DS boss Yves Bonnefont, the brand’s commitment to avante garde design (summed up as “sensual and remarkable”), cutting-edge technology (comprising efficient powertrains and connectivity), refinement with a focus on faultless quality and dynamicism (but only when balanced with serenity, and as a result never with more than 300bhp as that would be too “brutal”).
Although this is a chance to drive the car, there’s no escaping the fact that it is a concept in the purest sense, and as such it’s important to separate the extravagant flourish designed to catch attention from the exaggerated flourish designed to hint at what might be possible for production in time.
In the former category you can safely put the scissor and coach doors and interior crystal decorations, which are here to add some bling and highlight the car’s cutting-edge style and high-end fashion aspirations.
Surprisingly, the absence of a rear window falls into the latter category, according to Divine’s makers. With the rear window covered by a shell-like aerodynamic structure, Divine uses cameras to project an image of what is behind the car onto a rear-view mirror-shaped screen found in the usual place. Its makers point out that lorry drivers can’t see out of the back of their vehicles today, although they do concede that their technological solution may be some years away from production.
More logically, the sharp-edged diamond shapes that adorn many of the surfaces hint at a styling theme that will run on all production cars and which are seen to typify the kind of avante garde styling theme for which DS wishes to become known. So too the chrome double wing on the nose, which is a clear but modern nod to DS’s heritage.
The grille is also in line for production, albeit in slightly toned-down fashion, and is said to have been born with Chinese market tastes in mind, because that is where DS will focus its initial sales efforts. On this concept it is an incredibly intricate and appealing design, although the production version will inevitably need to be simpler to make.
The interior is yet more intriguing. What you see here is called Parisienne Chic, and as such it is most focused on the French styling theme that DS hopes will mark it out from its more Germanic rivals. It showcases embroidered door panels and pleated silk and leather, and there’s no doubt the cabin has an ambience unlike any other.
But the car has been displayed with two other interiors at other times, called Male and Fatale Punk, which suggest how future DS models could get different interior treatments. Male makes use of carbonfibre to highlight DS’s technology-driven side, while Fatale Punk features quilted, jewellery-studded leather.
The dashboard, meanwhile, is a more heavily sculpted version of that on the latest DS5. The reasoning goes that if you want a premium car, you want your car to make a statement - and this is an exaggerated but representative vision of how that could look. On the move, the wraparound design is cossetting, and the materials and finish certainly combine with the expansive glasswork to give the cabin an airy, luxurious feel.
And the drive? In virtually every way there is no point in dwelling on it. The powertrain and performance claims are set out below, but our test was restricted to low-speed runs at little more than 30mph. Like all concept cars it clunked and clattered, but the point of such a test is purely to get a feel for the cabin ambience. No question, the dash layout works, the cabin is laid out to be involving and there is a real sense of style from the materials. The real test will be how much of this makes production, but in terms of ambience it really does feel different, in a positive way, to the opposition.
While the Divine is purely a concept, you will be able to drive cars derived from it, and on this evidence the promise of this once mainstream brand offering something pleasingly different and potentially upmarket rings true.
Stylistically, inside and out, it demonstrates a flair clearly inspired by its maker’s French origins, and while the concept hides some of that behind an over-the-top facade, it is possible to imagine aspects working in production.
But it is also worth noting that DS’s future success depends on so much more than how the car looks. The engineers must develop a range of cars that ride, handle and steer like premium vehicles - especially in the UK. They must combine image with practicality, and develop technology that matches that of the very best. Even then, they must have vehicles that are priced and have residual values to match the best - and which can be sold and maintained through a credible dealer network.
There are many hurdles ahead - but Divine DS at least proves there is hope.
Divine DS concept car
On sale Never; Price na; Engine 4 cyls, 1600cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 267bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 243lb ft at 1900rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight na; 0-62mph 7.3sec; Top speed na; Economy na; CO2/tax band 145g/km, 24%