Review: DS9 E-Tense 250

From £56,000

Launched in the UK in 2021, the DS 9 is a large executive saloon which has the unenviable task of competing against the German ‘big three’ (Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz).

Now only available as a plug-in hybrid, it was the third truly standalone model from Stellantis’ premium brand, following the DS 7 Crossback and DS 3 Crossback models.

The DS 9’s rivals include the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series and Audi A6, plus the Jaguar XF and Lexus ES.

There’s a choice of two models – the E-Tense 250 and the E-Tense 4×4 360. The main difference between the two is that the 250 pairs a petrol engine with one electric motor – the 360 has two, giving it more power and four-wheel drive.

We tested the DS 9 E-Tense 250 over a week on a variety of A and B roads, plus motorways, in the South West.

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DS 9 E-Tense side view

DS 9 E-Tense 250 – Exterior

The DS 9 is an elegant saloon. Based on an extended version of the EMP2 platform that underpins the Peugeot 508, the biggest first impression is its magnitude.

At 4934mm long and 1932mm wide, it’s about the same size as a BMW 5 Series. It has a sleek three-box silhouette with a rear-raked window and flush-fitting door handles, so it’s bang on trend with the current fastback style.

The bonnet features an unusual metal ‘Clous de Paris’ sabre along its centre line and there are high-mounted rear lights – a nod to the car’s Citroen DS heritage. Other styling highlights include the theatrical bejewelled LED headlights up front and the distinctive DS signature full-LED rear light cluster design.

DS 9 E-Tense rear view

The exterior colours on offer reflect the car’s target audience with a choice of five monochrome shades.

Additionally, there are three trim levels – Rivoli +, Opera and Esprit de Voyage (only available with the E-Tense 4X4 360). Apart from badging, different wheels and powertrains, the main differences are when it comes to equipment levels.

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DS 9 E-Tense 250 – Interior

The cabin of the DS 9 E-Tense 250 is spacious and classy, but while some elements are premium quality, others are more basic and found elsewhere in the Stelantis multi-brand line-up.

If you prefer a low seating position, then this is the car for you, but just remember that there’s limited space for rear passengers to rest their feet under the front seats.

The good news is that there’s plenty of leg and headroom in the back, while all the seats are comfortable with plenty of adjustment. The optional Nappa watchstrap leather finish works especially well. The boot is a shallow but generous 510-litres.

DS 9 E-Tense cockpit interior

Every DS 9 comes with a 12.3-inch digital driver’s cluster and a 12-inch central touchscreen as standard.

However, it’s the same infotainment system found in lesser Citroen, Vauxhall and Peugeot cars with its disappointing graphics and below-par response times. So, while it looks good on paper, we’d expect something a little more technically advanced on a £50,000+ executive saloon.

Elsewhere, there are some lovely touches (like the Art Deco analogue BRM clock, which silently revolves out of the top of the dashboard when you start the car), but there are also some quirky features, such as the window switches which flank the gear selector in the centre console.

Overall, it’s well put together, but it’s not quite a match for its German rivals. And it’s all very well having lovely pleated leather around the dash and on door cards, but if you lower your eyes there are too many hard plastic surfaces.

DS 9 E-Tense rear seats

DS 9 E-Tense 250 – Performance and economy

The plug-in hybrid DS 9 E-Tense 250 features a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine paired with a 15.8kWh battery and single electric motor, producing a combined 247bhp, with drive via the front wheels. The E-Tense 4×4 360 gets an 11.9kWh battery, two electric motors, a total of 355bhp and all-wheel drive.

Both versions use an eight-speed automatic gearbox and are capable of travelling around 30-40 miles in pure electric mode while charging to 100% takes between 1hr 45min and 2hr 25min via a 7.4kW home wall box.

Additionally, you can move the gear selector to B mode to increase regenerative braking on downhill stretches or coasting up to a junction. Paddles behind the steering wheel work better but at least the regen option is there.

The 0-62mph sprint in the DS 9 E-Tense 250 takes 8.1 seconds, while the top speed is 149mph. The 4×4 360 is quicker and has a higher top speed (5.6sec/155mph).

In theory, the DS 9 E-Tense 250 is capable of up to 305mpg (158mpg in the 4×4 360), but it will dip down to around 40mpg on longer journeys when the battery charge has been used up and it’s functioning as a regular hybrid.

> Review: Mercedes-Benz EQE first drive

If you only use your DS 9 E-Tense for short trips and you’re mostly in EV mode, your visits to the petrol station will be few and far between. Driven sensibly, diesel-equivalent economy is quite possible on longer runs. However, as with any plug-in hybrid, it’s most efficient when the battery is kept charged up.

CO2 emissions are as low as 22g/km and both models qualify for low BIK tax bands, so they are attractive options for company car drivers.

DS 9 E-Tense boot

There’s a choice of four drive modes (Electric, Comfort, Hybrid, and Sport) and the car always starts in smooth-and-silent EV mode. Comfort suits the DS 9 almost as well. It enables DS Active Scan Suspension which continuously adjusts the suspension, making it firmer or more compliant for the best comfort level.

Hybrid juggles power between electric and petrol depending on how the car is driven and Sport optimises performance by adjusting the mapping of the accelerator pedal, gearbox, steering and controlled damping.

The gutsy four-pot is refined for the most part, only making itself vocal when under heavy acceleration. For a big car with a relatively modest engine, it can shift too, but a more relaxed 2.0-litre might suit it better.

The gearbox is sometimes a little lethargic, but generally slick, while the switch from electric to hybrid and vice versa is seamless.

DS 9 E-Tense 250 – Handling

On the road, the DS 9 E-Tense 250 feels substantial and the ride is lovely, in a squishy big French car sort of way. However, we’re not talking magic carpet ride – it can still get caught out over potholes and poor surfaces.

It’s fairly quick off the line, but it would be an exaggeration to call it nimble. Push it on twistier roads, and though body lean is surprisingly well controlled, it’s floaty at heart and is much happier cruising along.

Considering it’s front-wheel drive, the E-Tense 250 grips well, but if money is no object, the more powerful, all-wheel drive E-Tense 4×4 360 might be worth going for.

Ultimately, the DS 9 E-Tense 250 is more about comfort than sportiness, so job done.

DS 9 E-Tense rear lights

DS 9 E-Tense 250 – Verdict

The elegant DS 9 E-Tense 250 executive saloon is an impressive attempt to beat the Germans at their own game. Plush, spacious, economical, refined and comfortable, it may suit company car drivers who want to stand out from the crowd, or private owners bored of SUVs and happier wafting around in a big hybrid four-door.

DS 9 E-Tense 250 – Tech specs

Price: £56,000
Battery Capacity: 15.8 kWh
WLTP combined economy: 305 mpg
EV range: 30-40 miles
Maximum Power: 247 bhp
Torque: 265 lb-ft
0-62mph: 8.1 seconds
Top Speed: 149 mph
Boot Capacity: 510 litres

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Related Reviews
From £53,995

Verdict

4.00/5

Verdict

3.50/5
The elegant DS 9 E-Tense 250 executive saloon is an impressive attempt to beat the Germans at their own game. Plush, spacious, economical, refined and comfortable, it may suit company car drivers who want to stand out from the crowd, or private owners bored of SUVs and happier wafting around in a big hybrid four-door.
Show More

Quality

4.00/5

Performance

3.50/5

Range

4.00/5

Comfort

4.00/5

Dynamics

3.50/5

Fast Facts

Price

£56,000

Battery Capacity

15.8 kWh

WLTP Range

305 miles

Maximum Power

247 bhp

Torque

265 lb-ft

0-60

8.1 secs

Top Speed

149 mph

Boot Capacity

510 litres

Pros and Cons

Well equipped
Decent pure EV range
Comfortable and refined
Spacious with big boot
Too expensive
More dynamic alternatives
Mixed bag of interior materials
Divisive looks
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