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Beijing show: Citroen reveals DS9 concept

China grille: The Citroen Numéro 9’s ‘three-dimensional’ grille is said to introduce the front-end identity of future DS models.

Citroen presents new French-designed DS9 flagship specifically aimed at China

Citroen logo17 Apr 2012

By DAVID HASSALL

CITROEN has revealed its promised new concept car – which clearly points to the French car-maker’s long-awaited flagship DS9 saloon – ahead of its official unveiling at next week’s Beijing motor show.

Teased last month and bearing a close resemblance to the Metropolis concept shown at the Shanghai show in May 2010, the latest version is called the Numéro 9, which not-so-subtly betrays its expected future as the DS9.

Not coincidentally, Citroen is using the Numéro 9 unveiling at the show to launch the French car-maker’s DS range of cars in China, which will commence later this year.

China is now Citroen’s biggest market, having recently overtaken France.

The DS9 will be built in China in a joint venture with the Changan Automotive Group in Guangdong province and is clearly targeted at the huge Chinese luxury saloon market, which is charging ahead in contrast to many more mature markets, specifically the chauffeur-driven top-end of the market.

Nevertheless, the new Citroen flagship is on the agenda for small-volume global distribution as a serious rival to cars such as the Mercedes-Benz S-class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8, replacing the disappointing C6 sold in Australia since 2006.

33 center imageLocal DS9 sales are dependent on right-hand drive production – which has yet to be confirmed – and therefore relying also on the interest and lobbying from other large RHD markets such as the UK, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and India.

Citroen said it created the sleek Numéro 9 plug-in hybrid to promote its distinctive DS line and signals styling cues of the next three models – a C-segment premium sedan, an SUV and a D-segment “executive saloon”, which will be the DS9.

Presently, the DS line – which is marketed alongside Citroen’s main range – consists of the DS3 light car (sold in Australia since September 2010), the C4-based DS4 crossover launched here two months ago, and the larger DS5 due here later this year.

As well as conveniently slotting neatly into the DS model name progression, the DS9 badge is designed to pay homage to the classic DS19 of the 1960s, also known as the Goddess because the French pronunciation for the letters DS together sound like the word for Goddess.

It was even the subject of an Australian movie in 2000 titled The Goddess of 1967.

The 21st century incarnation is distinguished by its ‘shooting brake’ wagon-style body – “subtly combining the proportions of a coupé with those of an estate” – and substantial 3.0-metre wheelbase, which both provide for a large rear seat in keeping with its chauffer-driven target market.

Rear-seat occupants also get plenty of light through the provision of three glass areas in the “floating roof”, which ends with a built-in spoiler just above the back window. The cabin can also be “pre-heated” to a set temperature.

Interestingly, Citroen said the latest version of the car was designed in Paris, not PSA Peugeot Citroen’s China Tech Centre, the company’s largest R&D and design facility outside Europe, where the original Metropolis was apparently styled.

“Numéro 9 evolves the design cues of the current DS line, introducing the new front-end identity of future models, along with an original light signature,” said Citroen.

“The grille is sculpted in three dimensions and flows into the full-LED headlights, which end in daytime-running lights. Condensing the distinctive forms of the DS line, the concept also features a floating roof, underlined by chrome trim with discreet DS markings, and glazed side surfaces flowing into the rear window.” The near-production model is not quite as large as the Metropolis concept, being almost 400mm shorter at 4930mm and 60mm narrower at 1940mm, but is 130mm lower at just 1270mm. It is slightly bigger than the C6.

The Numéro 9 employs an hydraulic active suspension system and rides on huge 21-inch wheels.

Sitting under the long bonnet of the Beijing show car and driving the front wheels is a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine developing 165kW of power and 275Nm of torque, but Citroen points out a diesel engine can also be fitted where it suits the market.

An electric motor developing 52kW and 200Nm is located on the rear axle, powered by lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged in three and a half hours from a normal domestic socket, which has a 50km range with zero emissions in electric-only rear-wheel-drive mode.

Only the combustion engine is used for freeway cruising, but using both the engine and motor together (at the push of a ‘boost’ button) accelerates the 1500kg saloon from 0-100km/h in 5.4 seconds – only about one-tenth slower than the 4.4-litre V8 turbo BMW 750Li – on the way to a top speed of 244km/h.

On slippery surfaces, the car will automatically engage both for all-wheel drive, or the driver can select it manually.

Citroen claims the hybrid drivetrain delivers fuel economy of just 1.7L/100km under the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), with CO2 emissions of 39g/km.

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