Plug-in hybrid version of French luxury brand's new executive saloon gains more power and a lower BIK tax band

What is it?

Not even a month ago, we published our in-depth road test of the DS 9, in E-Tense 225 specification. We said it “brings welcome variety back to the market for premium saloons, but the plug-in powertrain offers only lukewarm performance and poor electric range”.

Three weeks later, I’m driving another 9, with 25 extra horses from its petrol engine and four more miles of electric range, thanks to a bigger (13.6kWh) battery. Just what we ordered, then.

Compared with the original E-Tense 225, the E-Tense 250 is no revolution but a welcome improvement nonetheless. It’s £1000 more expensive than the 225 but, thanks to those four miles of extra range, falls into a lower benefit-in-kind tax band (12% instead of 14%). So for most company car drivers, those savings will cancel out the price premium.

In short, the 250 is an upgrade that will be hard to pass up. Indeed, DS reckons few buyers will. The 250 is set to go on sale in April as a mid-range option, but the E-Tense 225 will be phased out in the autumn.

Mind you, while the upgrade is good value, the 9 is still not brilliant value compared with its intended rivals. The E-Tense 250 Performance Line+ starts at £47,100 – roughly the same as the Mercedes-Benz E300e and only a little bit cheaper than the BMW 530e. However, it doesn’t have as much power or space and, crucially, doesn’t enjoy the well-known badge (and associated resale value) of those cars.

2 Ds 9 e tense 250 2022 first drive review side pan

What's it like?

You need to be a bit different to buy a 9, and this 250 version won’t fundamentally change that.

What it does do is make the 9 slightly less compromised. It still isn’t neck-snappingly fast, with an 8.1sec 0-62mph sprint time, but then the 9 isn't a car to drive quickly anyway. It can do it, because it has ample grip and its adaptive suspension keeps body roll in check fairly well, but its strength is in wafting.

Wafting it does brilliantly. On the motorway, the ride is as plush as it comes, while there's almost no road noise and very little wind noise. The slowish steering takes any nervousness out of the responses, the adaptive cruise control and active lane-keeping assistance are well judged and the seats are comfortable on long distances.

Come to think of it, a torquey 2.0-litre diesel would suit the 9’s autoroute remit rather well, but it’s just not fashionable any more and wouldn’t sell at all. And there's much to be said for the plug-in hybrid’s ability to shut down its petrol engine under light load and to glide silently through town.

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The interior is a pleasant place to spend a lot of time. It’s not quite as spacious as that of the E-Class, and the placement of some of the switches is quirky, but the materials are on point and the build quality is solid. It’s just a pity that the infotainment system isn’t more logical and responsive.

9 Ds 9 e tense 250 2022 first drive review dashboard

Should I buy one?

You either get the 9 or you don’t. Objectively, it’s not best plug-in hybrid executive saloon and the traditional German options make more sense.

This new 250 brings it closer to rivals, on paper and on the road. At the same time, it preserves what makes the 9 unique and appealing – something that the range-topping 360 4x4 model struggles to do. 

3 Ds 9 e tense 250 2022 first drive review tracking rear

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Illya Verpraet

Illya Verpraet Road Tester Autocar
Title: Road Tester

As part of Autocar’s road test team, Illya drives everything from superminis to supercars, and writes reviews, comparison tests, as well as the odd feature and news story. 

Much of his time is spent wrangling the data logger and wielding the tape measure to gather the data for Autocar’s eight-page road tests, which are the most rigorous in the business thanks to independent performance, fuel consumption and noise figures.

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mvarch 3 March 2022

It is absolutely unthinkable 'that Citroen, especially as part of the Stelantis group Prestige line, would allow itself to create such an UGLY car !!!! It is against all Citroen tradition and spirit, and I'm afraid it signals no-good for Lancia cars to come, which personally ,would be even a bigger disappointment! Get your shit together! give us some sexy 'mind blowing stuff!!