Like many concept cars we saw in Beijing, the DS Numero 9 didn’t have an interior. Why? We’re not sure. Possibly politics, because Citroën as a French firm needs to hold something back for its "home" motor show in Paris in September. Possibly there was a lack of time or money (concept cars are fearsomely expensive to make).
But nevertheless the Numero 9 is worth a moment’s attention because it signals big things for Citroën’s upmarket DS brand. After the production DS3, 4 and 5, this concept indicates that there’s a big, flagship DS car on the way.
If you’ve a fond history for big Citroëns of old, such as the SM and CX, this will probably excite you.
That face - the front of the car - with the grille extending into the lamps, the wraparound day-time running light graphic and the Citroën badge behind a glazed element - is the face of all future DS cars. And there’s more. We were invited to an inclusive evening dinner with Citroën’s CEO, and the car’s designers, where they told us that the plan is to separate DS from Citroën all together - even the double chevron Citroën badge will go, leaving only DS branding on the cars. And three new DS cars are coming in total – a C4/Golf-sized saloon, an SUV and a large flagship car – and feedback from this Numero 9 will be used to inform the design of that car.
It also gives us further clues to what future DS cars will look like. Look closely and you can see there’s a floating roof, something designer Carlo Bonzanigo told us all DSs will have. There are also huge chunks of chrome and the little DS motif diamond fading out from the back of the roof.
It’s a polarising aesthetic, but personally we think it looks great. It’s believably expensive-looking and most of all it’s different. As Citroën CEO Frederic Banzet told us “We have to offer something different. So in the future we will play to our French strengths - fashion, artisan creativity and so on. We will offer something very different from the Germans.”
As we said in our review of the DS4, that probably won’t be to everyone’s tastes and it won’t be the safe option. But we always like having a choice, particularly if that choice is dripping with French flair.