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  • 08 June 2015

    Citroen DS Makes A Bid For Freedom

    The old Citroen DS, whose launch 60 years ago was commemorated last weekend with a 700-strong parade of the grand old cars around Paris, was a class apart. It was a car favoured by dignitaries, with diplomats often pictured disembarking from their stately black coachwork outside the plusher hotels of Brussels and Zurich.

    Today’s DS has little in common in terms of looks, but it does have that same upmarket feel. So upmarket, in fact, that the DS is breaking free from the mother ship. It’s set to become a third brand under the PSA umbrella. To Peugeot and Citroen, you can now add DS, with a fleet of six models.

    We’ve already had a taste of this new regime, a similar move to Toyota’s venture into the premium car market with sister brand Lexus. Somewhere midway through its lifecycle, the Citroen DS5 has been renamed simply DS5. This de-Citroenisation treatment is also coming soon to a DS4 and DS3 near you.

    Citroen has a 2020 vision for the new brand, with a new global line-up scheduled for that date. The DS is currently going great guns in China, but none of the three DSs currently available there, the DS 5, DS 5LS saloon and the DS 6 crossover, will be among them, as they’re constructed on obsolete platforms. So the new range really will be all-new.

    Citroen bosses say that it could take 15 years to establish DS as a premium brand in its own right, roughly the same length of time taken by Audi. So what kind of cars will we be seeing?

    DS’s Head of Sales and Marketing, Arnaud Ribault, told the BBC, "We are looking at the world premium market. The most important parts are SUVs and sedans in the B, C and D segments," (where B is supermini, C medium hatch and D is a family saloon). Two of the six cars are rumoured to be SUV crossovers, while new cars should appear twice a year from 2018.

    Development Chief Eric Apode says that the cars won't be copies of big German brands: "It's our duty not to copy. That would be a failure. Our customers say, 'If you do a copy of an Audi, I'll buy a real Audi.' We must invent our own story, and do what's best for our avant garde philosophy."

    Apode says that DS will take priority in the Peugeot-Citroen alliance when it comes to new technologies. These could include hybrids, autonomous driving, driver assistance systems and connectivity.

    The Citroen DS range is available to test drive from Howards Group’s West Country showrooms in Taunton and Weston-Super-Mare.

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