I still remember the static presentation of the DS 9 a few weeks after we were freed from the confinement caused by the pandemic. At that time (July 2020), the French brand explained that, in Spain, eight out of ten premium saloons registered were from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. 

Faced with this situation, the 'alternative' manufacturers had and still have two options: to surrender to the obvious and discard a vehicle for this segment or, like DS, face the challenge with their best weapons and with somewhat different qualities to try to win some sales in Europe. 

This is how the DS 9 arrived on the market, a model which is designed especially for the Asian customer. In fact, it is made in China for the rest of the world, although it also meets European tastes, as it is only sold in plug-in hybrid versions (250 and 360 PS combined).  

The DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera, in five key points:

Gallery: Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera

Design

There's no denying that the DS 9's aesthetics are somewhat ornate (very much in keeping with Chinese tastes) due to the large number of chrome elements, including a curious strip that divides the bonnet into two halves, but this aesthetic approach sets it apart from its German rivals (Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class), which is very much to be welcomed. And from the side, the saloon has a very attractive floor plan. 

A number of details are worth noting, such as the position of the lights on the C-pillar, the three-dimensional diamond grille (the French brand's signature geometric shape) and the flush-fitting door handles, as well as a concealed twin tailpipes with chrome trim. 

Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera
Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera
Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera

We miss the matrix technology on the Full LED headlights which, in return, offer an adaptive beam of light, highly useful in bends. Although it doesn't look like it in the flesh, the Gallic saloon is 4.93 metres long and has a wheelbase that stretches to 2.90 metres, so there's no shortage of legroom for passengers. Incidentally, the platform is the modular EMP2, which originated in the PSA Group and is now integrated into Stellantis. 

The DS 9's battery reaches 15.6 kWh gross (11.9 net) and, at a maximum charging power of 7.4 kW (this charger comes as standard), it can be ready in around two hours and twenty minutes, a normal time for a plug-in hybrid. The electric range is rated at 45 miles (73 km), which is typically around 37 miles (60 km) in real time on a combined cycle. 

Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera
Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera

Interior

In the cabin, DS has gone to great lengths to create a 'presidential' car, as evidenced by the rear seats with ventilation, heating and massage function. In addition, the front passenger seat has a side button to move it forward for a rear space worthy of a saloon. As a counterpoint to the light upholstery, the back of the front seats are dark-coloured to resist dirt well.

At the front, the dashboard features a generous use of soft materials, but there are also hard parts covered in leather with a good presence and Citroën original controls, such as the paddles and mirror adjustment knobs. A nice touch is the BRM analogue clock, which displays on the dashboard when the car is started. The front seats also have a massage function. 

Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera
Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera
Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera

Interestingly, the power windows and central locking are located on the centre console and the digital speedometer displays in blue if the car is in electric mode or white if it is in hybrid mode. The configurable digital display and central monitor each measure 12 inches and the steering wheel is flattened at the bottom. 

On the practical side, the coupe-like styling doesn't prevent the rear seats from being very roomy, and even tall adults don't touch the roof. The boot, with 510 litres, is quite deep and the load compartment is sufficiently large, despite the lack of a tailgate. It's a pity that the load cables can't be stowed in a double floor. 

Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera
Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera

Mechanicals

The 250 PS plug-in hybrid powertrain consists of a 200 PS 1.6 PureTech turbo petrol engine plus a 110 PS electric unit. Mechanical power is managed by a multi-plate clutch automatic transmission with eight speeds and is transferred exclusively to the front axle. 

As I commented on the DS 7 E-TENSE 300, "this gearbox has fixed paddles, although you cannot change the lock-up with them in electric mode, but only has a gear-shifting function in the Sport option. On the other hand, there is a B mode on the gear selector, which increases regenerative braking and is very easy to activate and deactivate".

Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera

The transitions between the different engines are seamless, but as well as being mechanically smooth, the DS 9 offers good performance, with a 0-62 mph in 8.1 seconds and a top speed of 149 mph (240 km/h).

After draining the battery, I like to reset the on-board computer to simulate a long journey and the truth is that the consumption did not shoot up despite the limited electric support in hybrid use. In figures, we are talking about 7 to 7.5 litres per 100 km in the combined cycle, which allows a range of about 373  miles (600 km) on petrol alone (small 42-litre tank). However, for exclusive highway and motorway trips, this figure is somewhat higher.  

Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera
Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera

On the move

The job of a saloon is to provide a comfortable and quiet ride for its occupants. In the DS 9 E-TENSE 250, it's a pleasure to put in the miles. What's more, fatigue doesn't even set in over time, making it a really pleasant car to drive. 

Thanks to the DS ACTIVE SCAN SUSPENSION system, which consists of a front camera and sensors that 'read' road irregularities and adapt the damping of each wheel, the car filters out potholes very well, especially in Comfort mode.

In Hybrid mode, meanwhile, the body seems to be more supportive and provides good cornering feel. However, a steerable rear suspension would be useful to further increase the agility of the car.

Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera
Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera

What I liked least was the feel of the brake pedal, which dips a lot until it starts to do its job. Fortunately, it's easy to switch off the lane-keeping function, which is activated by default on start-up. 

According to the digital display, the Hybrid, Comfort and Sport programmes provide the maximum power output of the whole package. In addition to these programmes, the driver also has the e-Save function, which can save battery charge or increase it while driving, at the cost of converting the petrol engine into an electricity generator, which significantly increases fuel consumption.

I found the night vision system, which warns of pedestrians crossing the road at night, particularly interesting. In the event of a car following us, the rear window does not allow a clear view of the car. 

Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera
Prueba DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera

Equipment and price

In addition to the above, the DS 9's Opera trim includes dual zone climate control, 19-inch alloy wheels, navigation, a 14-speaker HiFi Focal Electra audio system, aluminium pedals and footrests, keyless entry and start, tinted windows, sunroof, wireless smartphone charging, multimedia system compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, surround-view cameras and a huge range of driving aids. Just pay extra for metallic or pearlescent paint. 

The price to pay is £64,600 plus the home charging point and its installation. It is clear that, for that kind of money, many will go for the 'safe and easy' and choose a German saloon. But as I always say in these cases, if you want to be noticed and asked about your car wherever you go, the choice seems clear, doesn't it?

DS 9 E-TENSE 250 Opera

Engine Gasolina, 4 cilindros en línea, turboalimentado, 1.598 cm³, 200 CV + 1 eléctrico
Motor Delantero transversal de 110 CV
Output 250 CV combinados
Maximum torque 360 Nm combinados
Battery 15,6 kWh (brutos)
EV Range 73 km
Transmission Automática con embrague multidisco, 8 velocidades
Speed 0-100 KPH 8,1 s
Maximum speed 240 km/h
Efficiency 1 l/100 km (batería cargada)
Drive Type Delantera
Length 4,93 m
Width 1,86 m
Height 1,46 m
Weight 1.865 kg
Seating Capacity 5
Cargo Volume 510 l
Base Price 72.655 euros