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Taking inspiration from the massive success of France’s luxury brands, Citroën created the DS brand in 2009 to “express French style and luxury with beautiful details and exceptional quality". The brand was intended to be more upmarket than mass-market, if not a direct competitor to Mercedes and BMW. The DS 5 tested here completes the initial incarnation of the DS line. The crossover hatchback is also interesting because, while the link is unacknowledged by Citroën, this may be the closest thing to the original DS that France's famous double-chevron has produced in almost 40 years. The first modern Citroën DS was, by contrast to that 1955 technological and stylistic trailblazer, more of an urban fashion hatchback than an expression of French luxury. Nevertheless, the Mini-like DS 3 quickly became a success following its launch in 2010, becoming Citroën UK’s best-selling model in the process. Next along was the slightly underwhelming DS 4 crossover, which then led to the more rugged DS 4 Crossback. The dramatically styled DS 5 is an intriguing mix of high-roofed hatchback, coupé and sports estate, the result of the mounting pressure on the traditional D-segment family saloon in Europe. It’s still an important sector, but selling cars in it is not as simple now as it once was. Roll back the clock a decade or so and if you wanted a full-size car of moderate price, there was little alternative. However, the birth of MPVs, compact SUVs and crossovers, combined with the solid residuals of otherwise more expensive compact executive cars, means that things are no longer so simple. There is now plenty of choice and, as Renault has already discovered to the Laguna’s cost, you’ve got to give customers a damned good reason to buy a relatively ordinary traditional family car. That’s why the likes of the DS 5 now exist, crafting together several different styles of cars into a package you won’t find anywhere else. As with its other DS models, Citroën’s intention in the big-family sector is to offer a sense of high design and desirability that traditional models cannot deliver. Citroën itself says the DS 5 is pitched somewhere between the traditional Volkswagon Passat saloon and its natty CC derivative. Or between, say, the Vauxhall Insignia and Audi A4. Square where you might expect it, in other words. To a man, everyone who came into contact with the DS 5 thought Citroën had hit the styling nail square on the head. The DS5 has a tasty portion of aggression and dynamism in its styling and balanced, taut surfaces, but avoids occupying unequivocally the realm of the quirky. If a road test was judged on a car maker’s efforts with a pen, we could all go home. But there is still more to learn. While Citroën’s other DS models have arrived pretty much at the same time as their non-DS sister models, the DS 5 is a diversion from that pattern, and in more ways than one. While the DS 3 is effectively a C3 variant and the DS 4 is based on the C4, the DS 5 is not based on the C5, introduced in 2008, whose numeral it shares. Instead, the DS 5 sits on the same PF2 platform as the Peugeot 3008 and Citroën C4/DS 4/Picasso, thus rendering it shorter overall than the C5. At 4530mm, the DS 5 is some 249mm shorter than the 4779mm C5. The PF2 basis means that most DS 5s do without an independent multi-link rear suspension system, instead making do with a torsion beam, with MacPherson struts at the front. There are three diesel powertrains offered, a 1.6-litre HDI with 118bhp and 148bhp and 178bhp variants of the 2.0-litre turbodiesel, the latter of which is offered with six-speed automatic transmission. There is two variants of Citroën's venerable 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol developing 160bhp and 205bhp respectively. Curiously the former is only available with a six-speed automatic gearbox while the latter comes with a six-speed manual. The range was once topped by the a hybrid model, which DS cut from the range at the end of 2016 after the French manufacturer announced only 3 percent of DS 5s sold were Hybrid4 models.
Conventional 5-door hatchback looks to expand China-only DS range; will be offered as petrol automatic only Fresh details on the new DS 4S has been unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show, as the new model expands the French brand’s line-up in its most crucial market to four vehicles. The DS 4S is a conventional five-door hatchback, and it looks like a cross between Citroen’s existing C4 and the Peugeot 308. It’ll be built in China, at PSA’s joint venture factory in Shenzen, and will be offered with a choice of turbocharged petrol engines - a three-cyilnder PureTech unit with 129bhp, and a 1.8-litre THP motor producing either 158bhp or 197bhp. Due to customer tastes in China, the only transmission on offer will be a six-speed automatic. DS says the car will feature a dashboard clad in hand-crafted leather and a range of six exterior paint finishes. It’ll be sold through the company’s expanding dealer network in China, which now stretches to 100 stores in 60 cities. The 4S will slot into the bottom of DS’s line-up in China, below the DS 5 hatchback, the DS 5 LS saloon and the DS 6 SUV. It is not expected to be sold outside of China.
The DX7 is a compact SUV built by Soueast Motor on basis of the R7 concept unveiled at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show. The production model was launched at the 2014 Guangzhou Motor Show, where it was named “Bolang” in Chinese. With a 2700mm wheelbase, it is 4537mm long, 1900mm wide, and 1700mm tall. A turbo 1.5L or turbo 2.0L will be employed. The DX7 is designed by Pininfarina.
This blue barge is the new Zotye Traum Meet 3, and isn’t that a great name for a vehicle? “I have a Meet 3”. “Wow cool!” Traum is a new brand under Zotye Auto, the name means dream in German. The Traum brand is aimed at young and cool people, folks who dig a name like Meet 3. The Chinese name has nothing with dreams of Germany; Junma (君马) is best translated as Supreme Horse. The English slogan is Driven by Dreams. The Chinese slogan, translated, Dream for a Horse. It all makes so much sense, as usual, at Zotye. Interestingly, the Traum-branded cars are manufactured by Jiangnan Auto, a subsidiary of Zotye most famous for building China’s cheapest car; the Jinan Alto, a continuation of the ancient second generation Suzuki Alto. The Meet 3 is based on the Zotye SR7. To turn the SR7 into the Meet 3 Zotye changed the front, the rear, the badges, and added some chrome bits. And tadaa!, a new car was born. It is so easy. The engine of the Meet 3 comes straight out if the SR7 too: a 1.5 turbo with 152 hp and 195 Nm, mated to a 5-speed manual or a CVT. With a blue Traum badge. The Meet 3 will hit the Chinese car market in January 2018 for about 70.000 yuan or $10.600. Not too much for a dream that is also a horse and also a car!
The 2018 SouEast DX3 has been launched on the Chinese auto market, and the Pininfarina designed compact SUV has become quite a fine looking car. It comes with a black roof, proper roof rails, mean looking lights, a sculpted bonnet, a small grille, and a racy lower bumper. The floating roof D-pillar design is ultra fashionable at the moment, almost every Chinese automaker is having it on their own SUVs. Roof rails in silver contrast nicely with black roof. The DX3 is the production version of the SouEast DX Concept. It is positioned below the equally good looking SouEast DX7. Price for all this pretty starts at 72.900 yuan and ends at 99.900 yuan. There are two Mitsubishi-sourced engines available: a 1.5 with 120hp and 143nm, and a 1.5 turbo with 150hp and 220nm. The 1.5 is mated to a five-speed manual, the 1.5 turbo to a CVT. The engines and ‘boxes are made by the Shenyang-Mitsubishi engine-making joint venture, a company that supplies basically every Chinese automaker with 1.5, 1.5 turbo, and 2.0 turbo engines. Earlier today we saw the launch of the Beijing Auto BJ20, which has the exact same 1.5 turbo-CVT unit under the bonnet. Size: 4354/1840/1654, and wheelbase is 2610. The interior is not as good as the exterior. SouEast is really trying hard to make it hip, with red bits on the seats and steering wheel and with cool looking vents. But there is just too much cheap looking gray plastic around. The touch screen sits too low and is a bit on the small side for November 2016. And it seems they didn’t even try to put some design in the center tunnel, just a gear lever and a handbrake in gray panels. Nothing pretty there! Check the plastics. But! The DX3 has one very interesting feature. The start button is located on the left-side of the steering wheel, very close to the door. Not sure whether this is another shot at being hip or an engineering necessity. Special nevertheless. Shiny edge around the screen. There is nothing really bad with it, but it just doesn’t look very well fitted and finished. Compare for example with its main competitor the BYD Yuan, its dash has a very busy design but it fits together properly. The infotainment system has Bluetooth connectivity and he usual stuff like GPS, radio, and a reverse-parking camera.
The DS 6 is the DS brand's first foray into the SUV market - destined only for China. Is it any good?
Citroen’s DS brand has its first proper stab at an SUV - and it's attractive, roomy and surprisingly tasteful given that that DS 6’s only market is China. Petrol-only power won’t suit diesel-loving SUV buyers this side of the world, but the quality, equipment and mature road manners certainly would. After the disappointment of the bigger cars in Citroen’s DS range, it’s a shame this much better example is staying in China.
The best French SUV on sale right now isn’t available here. It’s not even on sale in France. In fact, the DS 6 can only be bought in China. The newcomer, also built in China, is pitched as an affordable alternative to smaller premium models such as the Range Rover Evoque (Aurora in China) and gives Citroen’s upmarket DS brand its first SUV contender.
One of the first things you notice is the lack of any Citroen badges. The DS signature is used liberally, but all traces of its less grand parents have been removed to better position DS as a standalone brand in the country.
The car certainly wouldn’t look out of place in the UK. The chunky profile would give any potential Volvo XC60 or Nissan Qashqai buyer pause for thought, and the chrome detailing beloved of Chinese owners has been given a more tasteful matt finish in details like the roof rails that carry on down the rear pillar.
Inside there’s certainly more leather you’d find in an equivalent UK car, extending to the dash board and door cappings in this top-of-the-range Prestige edition. It’s all good quality though, as are the buttons and also the rubber-edged dials that operate the temperature controls. The only duff note comes when you have to rest your hand on the dubious-quality fake wood while operating the 7-inch touch screen it surrounds.
Far more Chinese is the choice of powertrain. There’s no diesel option – instead the DS 6 comes with Peugeot Citroen’s 1.6-litre petrol turbo with either 158bhp or 197bhp mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox.
There’s no four-wheel-drive either – instead electronic ‘Grip Control’ is said to optimize front-wheel traction on different terrains. You can even indicate which terrain you’re about to tackle via a Land Rover-inspired centre-mounted dial, but we doubt there’ll be much call for the ‘cactus’ setting…
We drove the 158bhp version and discovered the engine was the weak link. Cars of the DS 6’s 4.5-metre length and 1.5-tonne weight cry out for a torquey diesel and that proved true here too. Overstretched, the four-cylinder unit becomes too vocal.
Everything else is much better. There’s a nice heft to the steering and the roll is well contained in the corners. We can thank the DS’s German rivals for conditioning Chinese buyers into liking a more European driving experience, and it showed here. As far as we could tell on the newly paved roads, the DS 6 rides well too. There was no heavy lurching under braking for example, something that would indicate it was sprung too softly.
Price-wise the DS 6 is good value starting from the equivalent of £20,142, compared to £37,170 for the Audi Q5. Generous equipment includes leather seats, satellite navigation, keyless entry and tyre pressure monitoring on four of the six models. Our £28,350 car also came with a rear-view camera, electric boot opening and even a massage function on the front seats.
Chinese owners demand good rear-seat space, even when driving themselves, and the DS 6 certainly delivers this. There’s also a generous 500-litre boot, even if ours was dominated by a Denon-branded sub-woofer for the premium stereo.
Citroen says there’s no chance of the car coming here, which is a shame – bigger DS cars have been disappointing in the main, but this one is an exception. Let’s hope we’re in line for the DS 6 Mk2.