This DS flagship is aimed at the Audi A4. At this rate, DS will be offering C-D class cars to compete with Audi’s A2 and BMWs 2-series.
DS are saying that “prestige” will have been reached when the DS9 can compete with not the A6, E-Class or 5-series but the Audi A4. That is quite a marked drop in expectations, n’est ce pas? If we are prepared to take it upon ourselves to gather all our strength and try honestly to consider the DS9 as a successor to Citroën’s most well-known range topper, then by rights the DS9 ought to be an alternative to at least an E-class.
In 1968 the DS21 cost almost the same as the Merdedes 220 (there was a 25% price difference). When the CX arrived things already dropped down a rung; the CX was a car that could range from being a Cortina competitor to whatever the heck the CX Prestige was an alternative for – maybe a base S-Class or a fully-specified Senator or Granada. It certainly matched a 5-series across much of its price range.
When the XM arrived in 1989 things still held steady, at least in the minds of journalists who thought the XM 3.0 V6 the equal of cars such as the Jaguar XJ6, the BMW 520i (or 525i) and lower-order E-classes. Now, of course few customers of the competitor cars really considered the XM to be a peer. Still, it was in the same price class and size range. The XM was not put up against Audi 80s and Ford Sierras or even the Mercedes 190E.
Moving forward to the C6, it was still seen as a contender in the executive saloon ranks even if it only really tried to pilfer sales from the Honda Accord and Peugeot 607 (really, it just satisfied a lingering cadre of Citroen die-hards). Still and all, nobody would say “Hmm, A4? Mondeo? C6? I can’t decide…” any more than someone would say “Hmmm… B&B fortnight in Malvern or two weeks in Cortina d’Ampezzo?”
Which brings us to the DS9, a car so very good that DS hopes customers from the lower premium C-D class will consider it. Is that not a fall from grace or a climb-down or a stumble of considerable proportions. In defense, the A4 is now a bloody huge car, just like the Mondeo and the Insignia are. So, in some ways the categories have moved down so a car as large as an XM (the DS’ predecessor is now 2020 Astra sized).
In counter-defense, DS have messed up by identifying their flagship with the bread and butter cars of Audi, Mercedes and BMW. They’ve cheapened the meaning of range topping. Over at Renault, the Espace is clearly a fine, big car to be considered in its own right. If you have an Espace I think few will say that the owner could have had a Five.
It seems so fundamentally different it is judged on its own terms. Damn those back seats – they are the deal breaker for me and the Espace. Most Espacers don’t give a care though and that’s quite okay. The point is, PSA have fielded a car comparable to cars it ought not to be compared to. That’s a deadly sin. You can’t prestige upwards.
If there is another DS9 will it aim perhaps to be the equal of the BMW 2-series and Mercedes B? If things keep on as they are, it will.