What is it?
The original Citroën DS was always a great car looking for a decent engine. Backed by the might of PSA and latterly Stellantis, that’s less of a problem for today’s DS models. A charismatic six-pot would be a bit much to expect, but in the electric and hybrid era, power is at least relatively easy to come by.
DS is positioned as a premium brand, supposedly a French alternative to Mercedes, Jaguar and Lexus. Regardless of whether it actually has that cachet, a premium brand deserves a powerful range-topper, so DS has rummaged in the Stellantis corporate parts bin and found the 355bhp plug-in hybrid drivetrain from the Peugeot 508 PSE (although the engineers are quick to point out the battery comes from a different supplier).
That means a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 197bhp aided by one 109bhp electric motor driving the front wheels through the eight-speed automatic gearbox, and a second 111bhp motor on the rear axle. We like the quick 508, even though the powertrain isn’t big on driver engagement.
For the DS 9, a car that has to provide effortlessness rather than engagement, that shouldn’t be an issue. The real question is whether it is worth the premium over the already pricey standard car. The E-Tense 225 costs £46,100, but the range-topping 360 bumps that up to £54,100. In range-topping Rivoli+ trim, that rises to £57,200, which is dangerously close to the six-cylinder BMW 545e.
It’s not just the powertrain, though. Part of that hefty price comes from the way the 9 360 is made. All 9s are manufactured in China, and that includes the 360. However, it gets a rather more bespoke treatment than its lesser brethren. The 360 starts out life as a front-wheel-drive-only 225. It is then shipped to DS Performance’s workshop in Poissy and turned into a 360 in the same workshop that prepares DS’s Formula E racers. There, it gets its electrified rear axle, bigger 380mm front brakes, lowered and stiffened suspension and longer wishbones for a wider track (24mm at the front and 12mm at the back).