Do big French luxury cars still matter?
Meet the newest recruit to the TG Garage. Do you know what it is? Come on, take a guess. Doesn’t matter if you’re wrong. Anyone? Fine, we’ll stop playing with you – it’s a DS 9. And though we don’t expect to see many others on the roads around the UK – sadly, history and experience show that fancy French saloons just don’t sell as well as their German counterparts – we do still expect it to wow us.
What definitely amazed me, as I did some pre-DS 9 googling, was a fact regarding DS 9 sales in the EU. It appears that on average DS sells 100 DS 9s per month across the whole of Europe. My gut feeling is that most (actually maybe all) of those will be in France to French business people who want to support their home brands. And there’s nothing wrong with that – just look at the number of Land Rover products you see suits driving or being driven in here.
Anyway, back to KR71 SXK. It’s got off to a great start here at Top Gear. Not only is it supremely adept and comfortable, it also has a stack of standard equipment too vast to mention the individual items (unless you have an hour to spare). However, so far there is one feature that stands head and shoulders above the rest as my favourite thing – DS Active Scan Suspension. Essentially this super smart system uses a camera to scan the road ahead and then sends its intel to the damping which is made more or less stiff to accommodate the potholes and road creases. Genuinely, it is amazing. Even on the ridiculously rutted roads the UK seems to specialise in, the DS 9 does the wafty thing. And it does it really well. The ride is so supple, so pliable, that I genuinely believe (apart from other DS 9 drivers and anyone in a Ferrari 812 Superfast with the bumpy roads button) I have the smoothest journeys of anyone in the UK. Not even an exaggeration.
The only non-standard items fitted to the test car are pearlescent paint (£825), the FOCAL Electra® HiFi system – 515-watt amplifier, 14 speakers, 8 inch subwoofer (£990), DS PARK PILOT – autonomous parking system, including 360° vision (£700), DS NIGHT VISION, which I’m really looking forward to trying out (£1,400), and finally an electric tailgate with loaded-arm access (£400). Not sure how useful an electric tailgate is on a saloon, but I expect the loaded-arm access will be very useful when I have armfuls of shopping. Something to try out the next time I’m at the supermarket.