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DS goes EV: new DS 3 Crossback comes in electric version

DS has quietly launched an all-electric version of its DS 3 Crossback. This small crossover, in general, is big news, but the EV version revealed alongside it hasn’t grabbed headlines. The times, it seems, really are a changin’…

The Crossback is a challenging but premium-looking thing, lacking the easily-digestible style of its long-serving DS 3 hatchback sibling. “Simple, sculptural lines expressing performance and strength, enhanced by a bewitching light signature,” said Thierry Metroz, DS Design Director.

Still, it looks expensive with that distinctive grille and bejewelled headlights. The rear borrows much from the DS 7 Crossback large SUV, albeit without the full-width (dare we say Porsche-style?) light bar. Again, a premium and attractive look. Everywhere else it’s recognisably a DS 3, just somewhat jacked-up and with the addition of two extra doors.

DS 3 Crossback

The DS 3 hatch has been in need of a cabin tech upgrade for some time, but the Crossback is more contemporary. Its cabin is similarly angular and art-deco, with plenty of French design flourish – again reminiscent of the DS 7. 

Naturally, the scope for personalisation is nearly limitless. Such is the lifestyle appeal of DS offerings, they’d be mad not to offer it. Ten wheel themes and a further 10 body colours play three alternate roof colours. There is a range of five DS ‘Inspirations’ set specifications: Montmartre, Bastille, Performance Line, Rivoli and Opera.

DS3 E-Tense – the electric Crossback

DS 3 Crossback

This is the kicker, for us – the nonchalant “oh, there’s an EV, too”. DS is proud of the fact that there’s very little to separate the petrol and electric versions visually. Both use Tesla-style flush door handles.

Numbers wise, it’s not just a gimmick either. It comes with a 136hp electric motor, with a 50kWh lithium-ion battery under the floor. Regenerative braking and fast charging feature as well, all culminating in 186-mile WLTP range, or 280-mile NEDC range. Respectable numbers alongside similar rivals like the Hyundai Kona EV.

The usual range of PureTech and BlueHDI petrol and diesel engines accompanies the new E-Tense EV. A new 155hp PureTech petrol with the eight-speed Eat8 transmission joins 130hp and 100hp units, while the 1.5 Blue HDI 100 soldiers on, now cleaned up to the latest Euro 6.2 standards.

DS 3 Crossback

New for the DS 3 Crossback are Matrix LED Vision lights, which adapt to the environment and road users around the car. Three LED modules contain 15 individually controllable elements that allow precise control over where the beam goes.

DS Drive Assist reads a lot like Tesla’s Autopilot in that it offers partial autonomous control over the car’s speed and where it’s going. Conventional radar-guidance regulates speed while the car makes minor directional adjustments. Like Autopilot, the system is definitely not fully autonomous and is best used on motorways and A-roads. No falling asleep behind the wheel, then…

No prices have been announced as yet, but you can expect the E-Tense EV version – and indeed the diesel – to cost more.

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Volkswagen Beetle Vase [Cabrio dash]

The best car features owners didn’t know they had

Volkswagen Beetle Vase [Cabrio dash]

A survey of 2,000 UK motorists by Citnow has uncovered the 10 best-loved features owners found in their cars.

These range from interior ‘easter eggs’ that surprise and delight, to genuinely useful features that we’re surprised aren’t seen more widely.

Let’s look at the list…

Volkswagen Golf GTI: golf ball gearknob

Volkswagen Golf GTI Golf Ball Gear Shift

‘GTI’ is one of the most prestigious names in hot hatchery and by extension, one of the most revered badges on the road. Today, the Volkswagen Golf GTI is the perfect double act of genuine class-beating competency and fun throwbacks to GTIs of old. One example of the latter is the golf ball on the gearknob, which heads the list of best-loved features .

Volkswagen Beetle: flower vase

Volkswagen Beetle Vase [from above]

If you thought the golf ball shifter was a fun trinket, the Volkswagen Beetle and its dashboard vase will appeal. The ‘New Beetle’, when it arrived in 1997, aimed to distil the cultural phenomenon of the original in a contemporary package. Yes, even down to some flower power… Motoring meets botany, resulting in perhaps the weirdest feature of any car from the last 20 years. It makes number two on the list.

Vauxhall Corsa: Flexfix integrated bike rack

Vauxhall FlexFix Bike Rack

The Beetle’s vase can be best described as a gimmick that’s most useful when you’re without a place to store your pens. The Flexfix slide-out bike rack on the Corsa (available as far back as 2000) is of rather more use to more people. Clever packaging makes it third on the best-loved list.

Skoda: integrated umbrella

Skoda Superb Umbrella

This one, especially for Brits, is a no-brainer, and somthing you’ll find in both a Rolls-Royce and a Skoda Superb. The door-stored umbrella has to be a godsend whenever you park up in wet weather. The challenge is remembering that it’s tucked away there.

Mini: ambient lighting

MINI Ambient Lighting

In the coolness stakes, this is close to the top. Ambient lighting has proliferated throughout the car market, but the playful implementation in the Mini is rated one of the best-loved features by buyers.

Honda: Magic Seats

Honda Magic Seats

Heading the list of practical but not necessarily cool quirks are Honda’s ‘Magic Seats’. These flip-up rear seats, which create a floor-to-ceiling storage space, debuted on the Jazz in the early 2000s and eventually made their way onto the Civic. Unlike a lot of what’s on this list, they are a genuinely useful feature if your Jazz or Civic is thus equipped!

Mini Convertible: Openometer

MINI Openometer

Aaaaaand… we’re back to the gimmicks. It doesn’t get much sillier than the Mini Convetible’s ‘Openometer’. This gauge records the amount of time you have spent travelling with the roof down. At least you can say with the utmost certainty how much sunshine you’ve got, before deciding whether to buy another drop-top.

Nissan: curry hook

Nissan Curry Hook

As unknown features go, this is about as middle-of-the-road as they get. How many cars do you know of with a hook specifically for takeaways? Er, none? Well, there is one. From 1996, the Nissan Almera came equipped with this feature, which you can now find in the boots of many new cars.

Renault Modus: Boot Chute

Renault Modus Boot Chute

This is a feature that was absolutely infamous at the time, mostly among journalists. The boot chute is one of those great ideas that simply didn’t catch on (the name surely didn’t help, although this was, remember, the company that also gave us the Renault Wind).

Too close to a car or a wall behind you? Need to load shopping? No problem! The lower part of the tailgate opened to create a ‘Boot Chute’. It provided excellent access for luggage in confined spaces. Bring it back, Renault!

DS 3: perfume dispenser

DS 3 Perfume Dispenser

The last item on the list is the DS 3’s perfume dispenser. Of course, it’s not actually exclusive to the DS. Many cars are now getting integrated fragrances, but it remains a laughable hidden feature.

Or is it? Plenty of us fit our own air fresheners, so why should a built-in one seem weird? Regardless, it rounds off the top 10 hidden features that buyers love.

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DS 7 Crossback

DS 7 Crossback premium SUV revealed

DS 7 Crossback

DS 7 Crossback

The new DS 7 Crossback SUV shows the French premium brand wannabe is about to get serious with a high-end crossover SUV that’s gunning for the Range Rover Evoque. Set to launch at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the firm has revealed it in full ahead of the Swiss spectacle. 

Styled under the leadership of DS design director Thierry Metroz, the new DS 7 Crossback is less wilfully odd than previous DS models, and more in tune with the sort of cars buyers are seeking. The firm’s also gone big on high-end detailing, in an attempt to further its promise of offering French luxury in the premium car class.

DS 7 Crossback

DS 7 Crossback

Lights are a particular focus here. The original DS 3 made great play of its signature LED lighting and the DS 7 Crossback continues that. Full LED headlights perform fancy start-up tricks and the LED running lights now form vertical beads. At the rear, laser-engraving tech has been used to create striking illuminated units. 

DS 7 Crossback

DS 7 Crossback

Inside, the quality lift evidenced by the Peugeot 3008, whose platform the DS 7 Crossback shares, is very much in evidence. Again, it’s a unique interior, with twin 12-inch screens: one in the centre of the dash and one in the instrument binnacle. DS claims the centre one is a sector-first, controlling navigation, DS Connect, MirrorScreen and multimedia. 

There are endless interior trim options, or ‘ambiences’, too. Reflecting (it says here) owners’ lifestyles, buyers can choose from Bastille, Rivoli, Opera or Performance Line. All boast their own Haute Couture trimmings and the ‘obsession with detail’ DS is keen to become characterised by. 

DS 7 Crossback engine tech

DS 7 Crossback

DS 7 Crossback

A headline powertrain for the DS 7 Crossback is a plug-in hybrid petrol set-up, boasting 300 hp, four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It has a 1.6-litre THP 200 engine, two electric motors and can do 37 miles on electric power alone. 

Other engines are more familiar. There are 1.2-litre PureTech 130 and 1.6-litre THP 180 turbo petrols, plus 1.6-litre BlueHDi 130 and 2.0-litre BlueHDi 180 diesels. Pick from a range of gearboxes – the eight-speed EAT8 sounds preferable to the older EAT6. 

DS 7 Crossback

DS 7 Crossback

DS is promising clever driving tech to smooth out the DS 7 Crossback’s ride. Active Scan Suspension comprises adaptive damping that uses a camera in the windscreen to monitor the road ahead. It’s linked up with chassis sensors to fine-tune the suspension in real time. Bringing the traditional Citroen ride quality into the 21st century? Here’s hoping. 

In pictures: DS 7 Crossback

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This is how Peugeot Citroen calculates real-world fuel economy

This is how Peugeot Citroen calculates real-world fuel economy

This is how Peugeot Citroen calculates real-world fuel economy

PSA Peugeot Citroen has revealed the exact methods it uses to calculate real-world fuel economy figures across its range.

The company announced real-world figures for 30 cars across its range earlier in the year, and has said it plans to reveal 20 more by the end of the year.

It’s part of a move to appear more transparent, with PSA being one of a number of manufacturers blaming the official NEDC fuel economy test for generating unachievable MPG figures.

Why is the official NEDC test to blame for unachievable fuel economy figures?

The New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) fuel economy test is used to calculate official MPG and CO2 figures for all new cars on sale in Europe.

The test is split into two sections: urban and extra-urban cycles. The first test, the urban cycle, covers a stop/start journey of 2.5 miles at an average speed of 12mph, intended to be representative of driving through a congested town or city. The car starts off cold and touches a maximum top speed of 31mph.

After this test, the now warmed-up car is put through the extra-urban cycle. This covers a distance of 4.3 miles at an average speed of 39mph.

This is how Peugeot Citroen calculates real-world fuel economy

The CO2 and fuel economy results for each cycle are then combined to provide the official CO2 and fuel economy figures quoted by manufacturers.

However, the official test has been criticised by consumers and car manufacturers alike. Carried out on a rolling road, it’s not influenced by real-life conditions such as other traffic, weather conditions and driving styles.

Developed before hybrid and electric vehicles were commonplace, it also produces extremely unrealistic fuel economy and CO2 figures for cars such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. As the test takes place when the plug-in hybrid Outlander is freshly charged, it covers most of it under electric power, hence the Outlander’s official 156.9mpg. When the Outlander’s short electric-only range runs out, its real-life fuel economy will be much lower than this figure.

So what’s Peugeot Citroen doing about it?

PSA Peugeot Citroen has announced that, along with the official NEDC tests (a European requirement), it will conduct real-world fuel economy tests across its range, and publish its findings.

To carry out the tests, the car manufacturer is working with environmental organisation Transport & Environment. It tests cars in real-world conditions, stipulating that ambient temperatures must be ‘normal’ (not too hot or too cold), while a set route should be followed.

During the test, 22.8km (14.2 miles and 24.7% of the total distance) must take place in urban areas; 39.6km (24.6 miles and 42.9% of the total distance) on rural roads; and 29.9km (18.6 miles and 32.4% of the total distance) on motorways.

This is how Peugeot Citroen calculates real-world fuel economy

Tyres must be inflated to ‘normal’ pressures and the driver should ideally not be a trained driver. The car should be driven exactly as a customer would, with all speed limits adhered to and typical acceleration for the type of car.

The test also requires at least one passenger being carried in the car, with the climate control being set to 21°C.

Transport & Environment’s clean vehicles director, Greg Archer, said: “The real-world test developed with PSA Group provides full transparency towards customers and more representative information to drivers than the new laboratory test, helping them choose the most fuel-efficient cars. This scientific approach is robust, reproducible and reliable in measuring real carbon emissions.

“We urge the European Commission and all carmakers to use this test for regulatory and advertising purposes,” he added.

What are the results of PSA’s real world tests?

So far, 30 Peugeot Citroen models have completed the test, with most averaging around 20mpg below the official NEDC figure. Here’s an example of models tested, with another 20 set to be announced before the end of 2016.

CarReal MPGNEDC MPGDifference
Peugeot 108 1.2 PureTech 8246.3065.6919.39
Peugeot 308 1.6 BlueHDi 12057.6588.2830.63
Peugeot 508 2.0 BlueHDi 18044.8470.6225.78
Citroen C3 Picasso BlueHDi 10049.5674.3424.78
Citroen C4 Cactus PureTech 11046.3165.6919.38
DS4 PureTech 11052.3174.3422.03
Citroen DS ID19

Sitting pretty: 48 hours with a broken Citroen DS

Citroen DS ID19Nobody talks to their neighbours in London, right? They do if you park a Citroen DS outside your house. This classic car did more for community cohesion than a jubilee street party.

The key word here is ‘park’ – but we’ll come to that. First, a bit of background. The 1961 DS you see here is actually an ID19: a cheaper, less powerful and (slightly) less complicated version of the DS19. Used for ‘press and publicity purposes’ when new by Citroen UK, it has since returned to the company’s care as part of a growing heritage fleet.

As the most iconic and beautiful French car ever made (discuss), the DS seemed ideal for the Retro Road Test: our weekly classic car review published every Thursday. With everything crossed, I called the ever-helpful Craig at Citroen and, just a few weeks later, the DS was delivered.

Street art

Citroen DS ID19“Lovely, just lovely,” said the man from the corner house who’d asked me to sign a petition about bin collections. “That’s my kind of car,” cooed the lady who runs the pub across the road. “Looks like it’s been lowered,” mumbled the 16-year-old lad from next door.

Indeed, the only car that’s come close for sheer street spectacle was a buttercup-yellow Lamborghini Huracan I tested earlier this year. But while the Lambo got envious looks and grudging remarks about “winning the lottery”, the DS drew nods, smiles and genuine affection.

Wildly futuristic and yet timelessly elegant, the DS literally stopped traffic as drivers slowed to stare and take photos. It was probably trending on social media, for all I know. One can only marvel at how this car, with its spaceship styling, must have appeared in 1955.

Feeling a bit flat

Citroen DS ID19

The DS arrived late on Monday afternoon, but I resisted the urge to jump straight in and cruise the streets of Croydon. I’d set my alarm early for a long, cross-country jaunt the next morning. With 67hp and 0-62mph in 22.1sec, progress would be as relaxed – and as pleasurable – as a Beaujolais-fuelled Sunday lunch.

Tuesday dawned bright and fresh, the DS draped in morning dew. I sank into the soft leather seat, grasped the Bakelite wheel and twisted the key… Silence. I tried again: the dials on the (UK-specific) English walnut dashboard sprang to life and I heard the faint click of a solenoid, but nothing more.

I called Craig, expecting – hoping – there was some Gallic quirk of the starting process that I’d overlooked. “No, just put her in neutral and turn the key,” he proffered. Hmm.

The battery voltage gauge showed a full charge, but I decided to attempt a jump-start using my old Ford Focus. Still nothing. Admitting defeat, I telephoned Craig again to request a recovery truck. The dream was over.

Plank on itCitroen DS ID19

The nightmare, however, was just beginning. As any student of old Citroens knows, hydropneumatic suspension only pressurises and rises up when the car’s engine starts: without power, the DS is effectively ‘slammed’. This would prove problematic.

Danny arrived with his low-loader on Wednesday lunchtime. He was sceptical about our chances: with no towing eye on the front, the DS would have to be winched up the ramp backwards. And the downturned tips of its exhaust were virtually kissing the Tarmac.

Inching the DS back, it quickly became clear this stubborn lady wasn’t for towing. So, in a further boost to neighbourly relations, I knocked on the door of John the roofer, returning a few minutes later with some scaffolding planks. Danny and I wedged them under the wheels, reducing the angle of approach. And slowly, steadily, with mere millimetres to spare, it edged up the ramp and onto the truck. We’d done it.

Retro Road Test coming soon

Citroen DS ID19

The DS had been sent to Coventry (literally, not figuratively – that’s where Citroen UK is based) and it hadn’t even turned a wheel. But as I watched this magnificent car being carried away, a princess in a sedan chair, I felt surprisingly buoyant.

For starters, I’d spoken to Craig (yes, again) and he promised we’d have the car back for a Retro Road Test soon. Secondly, a few awkward moments with wooden planks aside, my two days with the DS had been an absolute pleasure. I’d gazed longingly at it whenever I looked out of the window – and met friendly, enthusiastic people every time I went outside and, well, tried to start it.

In more than a decade of writing about cars, I’ve never returned one without driving it. C’est la vie. Sometimes beauty is its own reward.

Celebrating Citroen at its innovative best

Celebrating Citroen at its innovative best

Celebrating Citroen at its innovative bestThe Citroen Type A of 1919 was Europe’s first mass-produced car and the brainchild of the obsessive innovator Andre Citroen. The French company went on to build some of the 20th century’s most iconic and important vehicles, including the Traction Avant, 2CV and DS. As Citroen prepares to launch the new C3, we take a look back at some of its greatest hits.

Citroen DSCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

Arguably the greatest Citroen ever made and certainly the most iconic: the DS was a technical tour de force when it was launched in 1955. It featured hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension and hydraulic brakes, steering and transmission, and was the first mass-production car to offer disc brakes. Little wonder that Citroen received 12,000 orders on the first day of the Paris Motor Show. Over 20 years the ‘Goddess’ continued to evolve, cementing itself as one of the most important cars of the 20th century.

Citroen 2CVCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

From a ‘Goddess’ to a ‘Tin Snail’, the 2CV couldn’t be more different to the DS. But don’t let the rudimentary appearance fool you, because the 2CV was no less innovative than its illustrious cousin. Launched in 1948, but developed before World War 2, the 2CV was designed to provide cheap and reliable transport for an entire nation. At its heart was a trick suspension set-up, an air-cooled engine and a raised ride height, which famously meant that you could carry eggs across a ploughed field without breaking them.

Citroen SMCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

The Citroen SM was a victim of circumstances beyond its control, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be labelled as one of Citroen’s true greats. Think of the SM as a sporting version of the DS, offering a hydropneumatic suspension, powered brakes and self-levelling headlights, yet powered by a Maserati V6 engine. In terms of cross-continental performance it was almost without peers, but the fuel crisis and Peugeot’s takeover of Citroen led to its premature demise.

Citroen Traction AvantCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

The Traction Avant – introduced in 1934 – is accepted as the godfather of the modern family car. This was the first mass-produced car to feature front-wheel drive, an automatic transmission, independent front and rear suspension, hydraulic brakes and a monocoque chassis. Andre Citroen, the company’s founder, was an obsessive innovator, and the Traction Avant was a reflection of his genius.

Citroen GSCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

So often overlooked, the Citroen GS is one of the most important cars in the firm’s brilliant history. Amazingly, it was launched a mere six months after the SM, making this a golden era for Citroen. The GS brought all-round powered disc brakes and hydropneumatic suspension to the family man; indeed, this was the smallest car to feature hydraulic suspension. In 1971, the GS deservedly scooped the European Car of the Year award, beating the Range Rover, Volkswagen K70 and Citroen SM. Nearly 1.9 million GS/GSA models were built between 1970 and 1986.

Citroen Type ACelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

The Type A of 1919 represents the very genesis of Citroen – Europe’s first mass-produced car and, unlike other cars of the era, delivered ready for the road. It was also the first French car to feature a driver’s seat on the left-hand side, setting a trend that other manufacturers would follow. Features included fabric upholstery, cushions, spring-loaded seatbacks and interior lights.

Citroen MehariCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

The French Mini Moke? Perhaps, but unlike the Moke, the Citroen Mehari was a runaway success, with a production life spanning two decades. It was a replacement for the four-wheel-drive 2CV Sahara and based on the chassis of the Dyane 6. Launched in 1968, a 4×4 version wouldn’t arrive until 1980, by which time the Mehari had established itself as crossover before the crossover was a thing. Useful as a recreational car and a utility truck, the Mehari featured an Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) body that could be spray-washed inside and out, and wouldn’t rust.

Citroen C4 CactusCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

The C4 Cactus, launched in 2014, was a sign that Citroen had rediscovered its mojo. The Airbumps – available in four different colours – ensured the Cactus stood out in a fiercely competitive sector, while protecting the body from car park scrapes and dents. Other features include the roof-mounted passenger airbag and Magic Wash system, with wiper-mounted washer jets. Best served with a petrol engine, which seems to suit the Cactus’ lightness and joie de vivre.

Citroen CXCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

How do you follow an icon like the Citroen DS? The CX of 1974 had the unenviable task of replacing the ‘Goddess’ and is considered by many to be the last true Citroen. Vari-Power steering was available as standard from 1975, with the C-Matic semi-automatic transmission also introduced as an option. With a top speed of 137mph, the CX-25 GTi Turbo-2 was the fastest French car of its day, while the Safari (estate) and eight-seat Familiale were the ultimate family cars.

Citroen XMCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

The CX was replaced in 1989 by the Citroen XM – the company’s first luxury hatchback. Its standout feature was the new computer-controlled Hydractive suspension, although early cars were dogged with electrical issues that dented the XM’s reputation. Note the so-called ‘13th window’ between the cabin and the boot, designed to protect passengers from the wind when the tailgate was open.

Citroen M35Celebrating Citroen at its innovative best

In 1969, Citroen toyed with the idea of using a rotary engine to power its cars. The result was the Ami 8-based M35, of which 267 were built and given to high-mileage customers. Each car was individually numbered, as can be seen on the front wing of this original press photo. The project ended with Citroen giving owners the option to keep the car, although any that were returned were destroyed. It was left to NSU and Mazda to persevere with the Wankel rotary engine.

Citroen ZX VolcaneCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

It might upset the purists, but the ZX was an important car for Citroen. Here was a family car with mass market appeal, good enough to convince over 2.1 million people to part with their cash. It also spawned the ZX Volcane turbodiesel, which could claim to be the world’s first diesel hot hatch. Oh, and if you want innovation, consider the passive rear-steer axle and the sliding rear seat.

Citroen Xantia ActivaCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

Launched in 1996 – three years after the arrival of the Xantia – the amazing Xantia Activa established itself as the flagship of the range. It featured an active anti-roll system that was able to detect lateral inclination and immediately firm up the suspension, eliminating body lean. Not only could the Xantia Activa corner with remarkable poise, it also offered outstanding ride quality.

Citroen B2/NormandeCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

The B2 was Citroen’s second car and built between 1921 and 1926. The Normande – derived from the B2 pictured – was France’s first real utility vehicle, while Andre Citroen also developed a half-track version, which was the first vehicle of its kind to cross the Sahara Desert.

Citroen H VanCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

Many people will have encountered a Citroen H Van without even knowing it, as a larger number have been converted into trendy takeaways for use at festivals or in city centres. Launched in 1948, the H Van featured a cab-forward design, backbone-type frame in corrugated steel and front-wheel drive. It remained in production until 1981, by which time 473,289 had been built.

Citroen AXCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

On the face of it, the AX might not seem that radical and innovative, but Citroen went to great lengths to ensure its first genuine supermini hit the ground running. Superb aerodynamics and lightweight construction ensured the AX cost pennies to run, which is why some 2.5 million were produced. The AX GT is regarded as one of the definitive hot hatches of the era.

Citroen C3 PlurielCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

Proof that not everything Citroen touches turns to gold. Based on the Pluriel Concept of 1999, the C3 Pluriel was designed to be four cars in one: supermini, cabriolet, spider and pick-up. There were one or two problems, including the fact that there was nowhere to store the bits of roof when they weren’t in use. Also, in pick-up mode, the number plate was no longer on show, making it illegal to drive in the UK. The C3 Pluriel: good in theory, not so great in practice.

Citroen C6 (original)Celebrating Citroen at its innovative best

The C6 of 1928 was the first Citroen to be powered by a six-cylinder engine and designed to appeal to more affluent motorists. To this end it was more lavishly equipped than the C4, while the C6G MFP adopted ‘Floating Power’, using an engine secured with rubber mounts, instead of being bolted to the chassis. It used a Chrysler patent and helped to eliminate engine vibrations.

Citroen C6Celebrating Citroen at its innovative best

The C6 of 2005 was the spiritual successor to the C6 of the 1920s and, as you’d expect, it was loaded with gadgets. It featured the Hydractive III suspension system, first seen on the Mk1 Citroen C5, while other options included directional xenon headlights, semi-reclining rear seats, lane departure warning, voice control and a head up display. Other features included frameless doors, a concave rear window and an air deflector that deployed at speed.

Citroen Berlingo MultispaceCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

Citroen’s unsung hero, the Berlingo Multispace was genuinely innovative. Here was a van-based compact MPV that offered flexibility and versatility in abundance, whilst offering space for five adults and their luggage. Options included a full-length electric sunroof, while the huge tailgate and low floor made it ideal for carrying bikes or incredibly large dogs. Citroen claims to have invented the ‘leisure activity vehicle’ with the first generation Berlingo.

Citroen C5Celebrating Citroen at its innovative best

Citroen entered the new millennium with the C5 – a replacement for the Xantia. The new car featured Hydractive III, the latest version of Citroen’s self-levelling suspension, which went one step further than before by being able to adjust the ride height according to speed and the condition of the road.

Citroen BXCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

The BX was a game-changer for Citroen, enabling the company to establish a firm foothold in the lucrative fleet and company car sectors. The diesel versions in particular became firm favourites, while sporting, estate and 4×4 models ensured there was a BX for all. Over 2.3 million cars were produced between 1982 and 1994.

Citroen e-MehariCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

A Citroen Mehari for a new generation – where do we sign? Sadly, the e-Mehari is unlikely to be sold in the UK, but this is one car to hunt down at the holiday rental desk. This is a four-seat electric vehicle offering a top speed of 70mph and a range of 125 miles. We want one.

Citroen DyaneCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

Robert Opron and Jacques Charreton were asked to revamp the 2CV, conserve its qualities, dress it in a new body and add a few more luxuries. The result was the Dyane – a car with a large tailgate and a full-length canvas roof. Though it was designed to replace the 2CV, the Dyane was pulled from production in 1983, by which time an impressive 1.4 million units had rolled out of the factory. Meanwhile, the 2CV soldiered on until 1990.

Citroen VisaCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

By Citroen’s standards, the Visa was relatively conventional, but scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find some interesting features. Take the integrated energy-absorbing polypropylene grille and bumpers of the original car – something that led to it being christened ‘pig snout’. The single wiper and ‘satellite’ control unit were also innovative features for the time. The Visa II was a more conservative affair, although the car did live on in the form of the C15 van.

Citroen DS3Celebrating Citroen at its innovative best

The DS3 was an important car for Citroen, representing the first step on a journey that would lead to the creation of DS Automobiles and a divorce from the mothership. Back in 2010 we were still permitted to call the DS3 a Citroen, and it was a terrific car. Not only did it look good, buyers could choose from a huge range of personalisation options.

Citroen Ami 6Celebrating Citroen at its innovative best

Launched in 1961, the Ami 6 was designed to fill a gap between the ID19 and the 2CV. The most striking feature was the inverted rear window – the first time Citroen had adopted this design. The Ami 6 was the first car to be fitted with rectangular headlights. An estate version looked more conventional, and therefore sold in good numbers, before Citroen replaced the 6 with the Ami 8.

Citroen BijouCelebrating Citroen at its innovative best

When Citroen is compiling a list of its greatest hits, the Bijou is unlikely to get a mention. Indeed, the 2CV-based oddity might be filed under ‘Now That’s What I Call Weird’. Designed and built in Britain (the only Citroen to be designed outside France), the Bijou was created for the Commonwealth. Anglicising the 2CV was not Citroen’s best move, especially as the Bijou turned out to be heavier and slower than the Tin Snail. Oh dear.

Citroen C4Celebrating Citroen at its innovative best

The Citroen C4 is perhaps best remembered for its fixed hub steering wheel, with the major buttons used to control the main display staying fixed, even when turning the wheel. The C4 introduced lane-departure warning, while buyers could also take advantage of a scented air freshener.

Citroen C3Celebrating Citroen at its innovative best

All of which brings us right up-to-date with the all-new Citroen C3. The supermini will introduce ConnectedCAM – a fully integrated camera, located behind the rear-view mirror, to capture images and videos that can be shared via social media. Note the Airbumps, first seen on the C4 Cactus. Will the C3 be able to take its place as one of Citroen’s most innovative cars? We’ll find out in the autumn.

DS 4 Crossback BlueHDi 180 review: 2015 first drive

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If you want ‘go-anywhere looks’, ‘go-anywhere style’ and a ‘go-anywhere stance’, the new DS4 Crossback could be the car for you. Those three references, which appear on the first page of the supporting press release, leave you in little doubt about this car’s credentials.

With crossovers accounting for 30% of the premium compact hatchback market, you can hardly blame DS Automobiles for jacking up the DS 4 in order to create the Crossback. It sits 30mm higher than the standard DS 4, adding wheel arch trims, a black nose, black rear spoiler, grey roof bars and 18-inch black alloy wheels.

DS is targeting customers ‘looking for urban and extra-urban adventure’, which essentially means you won’t want to be venturing too far off the beaten track in your DS 4 Crossback. You’ll also be happy to look beyond the Mercedes-Benz GLA, BMW X1 and Volvo V40 Cross Country.

The question is, can the DS 4 on stilts hold its own in this competitive and image-led sector? We went to France to find out.

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2015 DS 4 Crossback BlueHDi 180: On the road

Our test car was powered by the BlueHDi 180 engine, offering 178hp and 295lb ft of torque. This engine is only available with the six-speed automatic transmission.

There’s plenty of mid-range torque, which makes for effortless cruising and overtaking, but the six-speed automatic transmission is the real party pooper. It’s often too slow to respond and the changes can be jerky, giving the DS 4 Crossback an unrefined feel.

As you’d expect from a jacked-up crossover, there’s plenty of lean when cornering hard, although there’s an almost comical level of grip. It creates a unique driving experience, which somehow seems suited to trips through the French countryside. It’s all well controlled and unashamedly wafty.

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The increased ride height also cushions you from the all but the severest of bumps and the DS 4 performed admirably across a short if unchallenging off-road track. It’s undoubtedly smoother than the standard DS 4.

Sadly, the pay off created by the ride height and roof bars is a greater level of wind and road noise, making the Crossback feel less refined than the standard equivalent. Strangely, we also noticed some occasional vibration through the steering wheel and pedals, something that could also be felt by the front seat passenger.

2015 DS 4 Crossback BlueHDi 180: On the inside

On the inside, the DS 4 Crossback just doesn’t feel special enough. Without the optional full leather pack, which adds leather to the dashboard top, arm rests and centre console, the Crossback features too much in the way of hard plastic.

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The buttons below the 7-inch touchscreen also feel cheap to touch and we can’t help but think they should be situated either side of the screen, which itself is looking dated. Some well chosen extras would improve matters, but the cabin is beginning to show its age.

Rear seat passengers will feel short-changed, with the sloping roof, black headlining, fixed rear windows and awkward point of entry creating a claustrophobic feel. The amount of head- and legroom is also limited, meaning the DS 4 Crossback feels every inch a coupe-hatchback, rather than a family car.

On the plus side, there’s 380 litres of boot space and a useful ski hatch through the rear seats. Sadly, the increased ride height simply adds to what is already a high boot lip.

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The DS 4 is also the first car within the DS/Citroen/Peugeot stable to offer Apple CarPlay. After some initial connectivity issues, it performed brilliantly and we remain big fans of CarPlay. Fear not, Android fans, because Mirror Screen will cater for you.

The Crossback is available in just one trim level, which offers a generous level of specification. Dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, rear parking sensors, cruise control, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, sat nav and a rear parking camera are all fitted as standard. You’ll be needing that camera, as rearward visibility is awful.

2015 DS 4 Crossback BlueHDi 180: Running costs

The BlueHDi 180 diesel engine offers a claimed 64.2mpg on a combined cycle and 115g/km CO2 emissions. If frugality is your thing, the BlueHDi 120 engine offers 74.3mpg and 100g/km CO2 when mated to the six-speed manual gearbox and fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels.

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Prices start at £21,745, with our flagship test car costing £26,495. By way of comparison, a Mercedes-Benz GLA will set you back at least £27,385, making the DS 4 Crossback seem like exceptional value for money.

2015 DS 4 Crossback BlueHDi 180: Verdict

It’s easy to scoff at these faux off-roaders, but some extra ground clearance and an intelligent traction control system is all the majority of DS 4 customers will ever need. And in that respect the Crossback has been well executed.

The CROSSBACK letters spread across the tailgate, Crossback mats and door sill protectors, along with the aforementioned enhancements, give the Crossback genuine standout qualities over the standard hatchback. Customers will also appreciate the panoramic windscreen.

In truth, the DS 4 Crossback is merely a thinly veiled attempt to squeeze some extra life from an ageing product. The Crossback is a step in the right direction and a hint that we can expect big things from DS Automobiles.

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2015 DS 4 Crossback BlueHDi 180: Specifications

Model tested: DS4 Crossback BlueHDi 180 automatic

Price: £26,495 plus options

Power: 178hp

Torque: 295lb ft

0-62mph: 8.6 seconds

Top speed: 127mph

Fuel economy: 64.2mpg

CO2 emissions: 115g/km

More on Motoring Research:

DS 4 THP 210 Prestige review: 2015 first drive

Frankfurt exclusive: no sales projections for Citroen’s DS brand

DS 4 THP 210 Prestige review: 2015 first drive

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The car formerly known as the Citroen DS4 has always suffered from a bit of an identity crisis. Part hatchback, part coupe, part crossover, nobody was ever sure what the DS4 was supposed to be. A car in danger of being a jack of all trades and master of none.

Free from the shackles of Citroen, the newly-formed DS Automobiles is on a mission to establish itself as a credible alternative to the premium players within its relevant sectors. Step forward the DS 4, which, in effort to provide some much needed clarity, is now available in two flavours.

Flavour one: a premium hatchback, positioned to go head-to-head with the BMW 1 Series, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Audi A3 and Volvo V40. Flavour two: the newly-created DS 4 Crossback, complete with increased ride height and wannabe SUV credentials. You can read the review of this car here.

With the DS 4 coupe-hatchback, the big news is a 20mm drop in ride height compared to the previous Citroen DS4. This is, in part, an effort to distinguish it from the Crossback, which sits a full 30mm higher than the standard DS 4.

But this is essentially a cosmetic exercise – an attempt to extend the lifespan of a car introduced in 2011 and based on the humble Citroen C4. So there’s a new grille, new LED headlights, scrolling directional indicators, lots of chrome and a panoramic windscreen.

All very nice, but is it enough to enable the new DS 4 to be considered alongside its German rivals?

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2015 DS 4 THP 210 Prestige: On the road

In authentic Ferrero Rocher style, DS really spoilt us by laying on the flagship THP 210 petrol engine. No efficient diesel engine for the ambassador, even if the oil-burners will account for the majority of sales in the UK.

It’s the first time the 208hp petrol engine has been used in a DS model and, on paper at least, it transforms the DS 4 into a hot hatch wannabe. Only the DS 4 is more of a warm hatch. Not that this is necessarily a problem, given the car’s target audience.

The power peaks at 6,000rpm, but 210lb ft of torque is available from 1,750rpm to 4,000rpm, so the DS 4 pulls strongly in any gear. Third, fourth, even fifth, you’ll find little problem powering out of a B-road corner, no matter what gear you’re in.

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Which means it’s possible to have some proper fun in the DS 4. On some admittedly smooth French roads, the new DS 4 rewarded our pre-dawn start with some soft-focus enjoyment. The ride is noticeably better than before, even on the standard-fit 18-inch alloy wheels of the Prestige trim level.

It’s not silky smooth, but the way in which the DS 4 transmits imperfections in the road gives you greater confidence than before. The DS 4 also has a tendency to roll through the bends, although there’s a tremendous amount of grip. It all feels very old school French.

Sadly, the steering is a real disappointment. It’s strangely heavy at low speeds, although this doesn’t translate to a nice weight when travelling at speed. The response is immediate, but there’s no feel and the weight is, at best, variable.

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In keeping with the soft-focus, warm hatch vibe, the DS 4 has a throaty if muted soundtrack, encouraging you to press on during a spirited drive. Sadly, there’s a little too much wind and road noise at high speeds. Curiously, we also noticed some occasional vibration through the steering wheel and pedals.

2015 DS 4 THP 210 Prestige: On the inside

If the DS 4 is to compete with its German rivals, this is one area where it needs to excel. First impressions are actually very good.

Our top trim test car featured the optional Criollo leather pack, which adds leather to the top of the dashboard, arm rests and centre console. At £1,500, this is an expensive but essential upgrade, as it hides the hard plastics within the cabin. DS will proudly tell you that it takes eight hours to create each pack.

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Sadly, no amount of leather can disguise the rather cheap-feeling buttons below the 7-inch touchscreen. It’s also a shame the buttons are not placed either side of the screen, as you’ll find in say the C4 Cactus.

That said, the DS 4 is the first car within the PSA Group to feature Apple CarPlay, which continues to impress.

As before, the DS 4 is very much a car focused on the front seats, because rear space is disappointing. Getting in and out of through the awkwardly-shaped rear doors is hard and once there the low roofline restricts the amount of headroom. Legroom is also limited, leaving the rear of the cabin feeling claustrophobic. This feeling isn’t helped by the fixed rear windows, which cannot be opened.

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Throw into the mix the high boot lip and you’ll realise this is a hatchback designed for those who don’t mind sacrificing practicality in the name of style. That said, there’s a useful 380 litres of boot space, 60:40 split folding rear seats and a ski hatch in the Prestige model.

2015 DS 4 THP 210 Prestige: Running costs

Face it, you’re not going to order the all singing, all dancing THP 210 engine if running costs are your primary concern.

The CO2 emissions of 138g/km means it sticks out like a sore thumb on the spec sheet, with the diesel engines ranging from 100g/km to 115g/km. Fuel economy is a claimed 47.9mpg on a combined cycle.

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Prices start from £19,495 for the PureTech engine in Elegance trim, with our test car weighing in at £22,995. DS will encourage you to treat yourself to a range of ‘avant-garde’ and expensive options, such as the new two-tone paint, which DS claims is a sector first.

2015 DS 4 THP 210 Prestige: Verdict

The new DS 4 is undeniably much improved. The cosmetic overhaul means it’s more attractive to look at, taking it further away from the look of the Citroen C4. It’s also more rewarding to drive, feels more refined and is more reflective of what DS is hoping to achieve in the long term.

And that’s the key. The new DS 4 feels every inch a stop-gap on the way to bigger things. It’s a mere starter while we wait for a more lavish main course.

You’ll find more fulfilling options on the premium hatchback menu, but the DS 4 makes for an interesting choice should the chef encourage you to taste something different.

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2015 DS 4 THP 210 Prestige: Specifications

Model tested: DS 4 THP 210 Prestige

Price: £22,995 plus options

Power: 208hp

Torque: 210lb ft

0-62mph: 7.8 seconds

Top speed: 146mph

Fuel economy: 47.9mpg

CO2 emissions: 138g/km

More on Motoring Research:

DS 4 Crossback BlueHDi 180 review: 2015 first drive

Frankfurt exclusive: no sales projections for Citroen’s DS brand

Frankfurt exclusive: no sales projections for Citroen’s DS brand

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DS Automobile’s marketing chief has told Motoring Research that it has no sales projections as a brand.

Interviewed at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, VP global sales and marketing Arnaud Ribault told us that DS is concentrating on selling itself a premium player rather than outright sales.

Ribault said: “At the moment, I have no sales projection figures I can give you. It’s about doing our own thing and introducing DS as a brand rather than chasing sales.”

DS officially separated itself as a brand from Citroen earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show. But rather than being a French equivalent to the premium German manufacturers, Ribault insists it’s doing things differently.

“We are more of a luxury brand. The Germans are very good at what they do – we can’t compete directly with them. We provide luxury in a different way.”

In pride of place on the DS stand at Frankfurt is the facelifted DS4 along with a DS4 Crossback.

The latter is very similar on the model on which it’s based, but with added ground clearance hinting at crossover aspirations. But Ribault told us it definitely isn’t taking on the Nissan Qashqai.

He said: “The DS 4 Crossback is its own thing, it doesn’t have any clear rivals. If we had to pick a car, however, it would probably be the Volvo V40 Cross Country.

“It’s not a rival to the Qashqai. The Qashqai is more of an SUV than the Crossback.”

DS says it plans to be fully established as a brand of its own within 15 years, with six new models due by 2020.

When asked whether the DS4 Crossback previews future crossover and SUV models, Ribault hinted “that would be a wise observation”.

Previously, VP products and business development for DS, Eric Apode, told us sales of the DS4 have been disappointing in the UK, and suggested an SUV could be a good move for the brand.

DS 5 review: 2015 first drive

DS 5 review: 2015 first drive

DS 5 review: 2015 first drive

Revised DS 5 rides better than before, while showing the world how to do luxury interiors. But it’s no longer a Citroen.

Andrew Brady | May 2015

As you may have heard, Citroen is going upmarket with its new DS brand. That means all of its range sporting the DS badge – DS3, DS4 and DS5 – will soon be sold without Citroen chevrons to be found anywhere. Think Toyota and Lexus, Nissan and Infiniti, and you get the idea.

So what has DS Automobiles done to introduce itself as a brand and get tongues wagging? Launched an exciting new hybrid SUV? No. Replaced the brilliant DS3 supermini with something even more desirable? Nope.

It’s given the slow-selling DS 5 (note – new space, it’s no longer the DS5) a bit of a facelift. Erm…

What’s the DS 5 like to drive?

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OK, maybe we’re being a bit sceptical. The DS 5 was already a good car, and it’s now much better to drive.

The improvement is largely down to new preloaded valve technology in the dampers, limiting sudden changes in damping force. This means harsh bumps from potholes and changes in road surface are softened, rather than being passed onto passengers.

In simple terms: the DS 5 now has the ride quality you’d expect from a big, executive French car. And that’s the biggest thing that was holding it back before.

Engine-wise, buyers get a choice of 165hp and 210hp petrol units, a diesel (with 120hp, 150hp or 180hp) and a hybrid.

On the DS 5’s launch in Paris, we tried the 150hp diesel, which is expected to be the biggest seller in the UK. It’s a sprightly, torquey diesel which leaves you wondering why you’d bother shelling out for the more powerful 180hp.

The six-speed manual gearbox is pleasant enough, with a short throw, while the six-speed auto partnered with the petrol is a big improvement over the robotised manual of its predecessor.

When it comes to handling, the DS 5 isn’t as entertaining as a BMW 5 Series when the going gets twisty, but that’s not what this car is about. It’s safe and controlled, with little body roll, and the steering provides enough feedback to tell you when sir is getting a little carried away.

Despite the DS 5’s chunky dimensions it’s a fairly easy car to maneuver – helped by a host of technology, including (for the first time) a new blind-spot monitoring system. This is a useful tool as, despite its seemingly endless windows, there does seem to be a number of chunky blindspots in the DS 5.

Is the DS 5 a genuine BMW 3 Series rival?

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What the DS 5 excels at is feeling properly premium. This doesn’t feel like a car that’s been designed by accountants. Every little details is well-made and has been given a lot of thought.

One in five buyers of the current model opt for the ‘watchstrap’ leather seats of our test cars – as well as being good quality leather, they look the part, while feeling comfortable. The price? That’ll be £1,390 on the Prestige. £2,690 on the Elegance. Gulp.

Still, you get what you pay for. Everything you touch in the DS 5 feels upmarket. So many manufacturers are satisfied by a bit of flimsy plastic for things like the cubby box handle, that it’s a nice surprise when a carmaker has invested some time and money into giving some minor details such thought.

The technology is equally luxurious. Ambient lighting and a quality sound system are further minor touches to show where you’re money’s gone. A new seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav is standard on all models, and easy to operate. It’s also decluttered the dash, which now sports 12 fewer buttons than its predecessor.

Not only can mainstream brands such as Ford learn a lot from DS when it comes to make a car feel premium (ahem… Vignale). Even German brands, while exuding quality, don’t feel quite as special inside.

Verdict: DS 5 (2015)

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It’s a bold move buying a new DS 5. The manufacturer admits that it’ll take about 15 years to truly establish itself as a premium player. For the time being, it lacks the brand image most people would want if they were to spend around £30,000 on a car.

Even if you’re not so bothered about the badge yourself, the vast majority of people are, meaning poor residual values could make the DS 5 hard to justify on paper.

If you can, or you’re reading this a few years down the line and looking at one as a secondhand purchase, we salute you for daring to be different. Numbers and badge snobbery aside, the DS 5 feels totally luxurious, and will stand out in a sea of bland, German saloons. For that, we like it a lot.

Rivals: DS 5

  • Audi A4
  • BMW 3 Series
  • Lexus IS 300h
  • Skoda Superb
  • Volkswagen Passat

On paper, the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series make a lot more sense than the DS 5. They’re dynamically stronger, too, the BMW in particular. But while they’re well-made, they lack that pizzazz of the DS. The Lexus is a strong rival to the hybrid DS 5, while the Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Passat have both been replaced recently and are now very strong contenders in this class.

Specification: DS 5

Engine 1.6-2.0-litre diesel, 1.6-litre petrol, hybrid

Gearbox 6-speed auto, 6-speed manual, CVT

Power 120 – 200hp

Torque 177lb/ft – 295lb/ft

0-62mph 9.3 – 12.7 seconds

Top speed 119 – 137mph

MPG 47.9 – 72.4

CO2 103 – 136g/km