Road tests

New DS 9 2022 review

Can the new plug-in hybrid DS 9 offer some competition to the German norm?

Overall Auto Express Rating

2.5 out of 5

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In some ways, the DS 9 is an intriguing alternative choice to the executive car establishment. Aside from the clunky hybrid set-up, it’s dynamically capable, and the cabin is uniquely designed and sumptuous enough to tempt buyers away from its German rivals. However, it’s seriously hamstrung by eye-watering monthly PCP figures that are significantly more than the class best. Unless the finances are drastically resolved, it’s almost impossible to recommend.

The DS 9 E-Tense plug-in hybrid carries a badge with a lot of prestige. The original Citroen DS from which the brand takes its name packed revolutionary tech into a striking design, and delivered ride comfort that nothing else on the road could match. So can the DS 9 recapture that magic?

Well, first impressions tease some lovely details to tempt buyers away from the BMW 530e. The jewel-like LED tail-lights are a highlight, but it’s inside where the DS 9 really stands out from the executive car crowd. There’s the theatre of the B.R.M clock on the dash; initially hidden, it rotates into position when the ignition is switched on. Then there’s the high centre console that gives a snug, coupé-like feel in the front. The design is shown to its best with the optional “Opera” interior – here with deep red Nappa leather and an Alcantara headlining. It’s a £3,000 option, but it does feel very posh.

Take one look at those long back doors, and you might assume that the DS 9 has limo-like levels of rear legroom. Sadly, it doesn’t live up to expectations – foot space is poor and elsewhere it isn’t much different to any other car in the class.

Some details feel pricey, but other elements betray parts-bin rummaging from less expensive Peugeot and Citroen models. The resolution of the rear camera, the nasty feel to the plastic gearshift paddles, and the fact that generally it doesn’t feel sturdy in the way its German rivals do, all suggest the DS 9’s impression of luxury is only skin deep.  

That also proves to be the case on the road. Here we’re trying the plug-in hybrid version of the DS 9. It has a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine with 178bhp and 300Nm and a 108bhp/320Nm electric motor. As with most hybrids, the two power sources don’t hit their peaks at the same time, so the total output is 222bhp and 360Nm through the front wheels. That’s not a huge amount of power for a car which, due to its 11.9kWh battery (good for an electric-only range of around 25 miles), weighs over 1,800kg. The electric motor gives sprightly (and silent) performance away from the line, but that feeling soon tails off. When the engine jumps into life, it never feels that quick. The eight-speed auto is abrupt when shuffling through the ratios, too.

The DS 9’s chassis is more positive, though. The steering is well weighted, while the front end is responsive. At motorway speeds, the ride is relaxing, but sharper bumps that leave a BMW 5 Series unruffled can cause the 9’s body to wobble. 

One area where owners will pay the price for being different is depreciation. This top-spec Rivoli+ trim is predicted to hold on to just 37.8 per cent of its original value – in comparison, the £49,870 BMW 530e SE plug-in clings on to just under 46 per cent of its higher price over the same period. 

Those values are reflected in the finance payments. Place a £5,000 deposit on a DS 9 E-Tense Rivoli+, and a three-year PCP finance agreement with a 10,000-mile annual limit will come to £873 per month. Compare that with the BMW 530e – which has 70bhp more, is better to drive, is more practical and has more advanced in-car tech – and on matching terms it costs £718 each month, which makes the DS 9 very hard to recommend. 

If your heart’s set on getting a French executive fix, then there’s good news elsewhere. The Peugeot 508 is available with exactly the same hybrid set-up as the DS 9, and in its highest GT Premium trim even gets matching high-end features such as a night vision camera and a Focal sound system. It costs £8,255 less than the DS, and when you combine that with a hefty deposit contribution from Peugeot, on matching PCP terms is costs just £489 per month.

Model:DS 9 E-Tense 225 Rivoli+
Engine:1.6-litre 4cyl turbo, e-motor
Transmission:Eight-speed automatic, front-wheel drive 
0-62mph:8.3 seconds
Top speed:149mph
EV range:25 miles
On saleNow
Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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