PSA officially announced DS as a standalone brand in Europe at the 2015 Geneva motor show, with a new logo and a clear objective. Having shown the DS Divine concept at the 2014 Paris motor show, PSA’s premium division is now following up the avant-garde, design-led approach with an all-new concept coined the E-Tense – a play on the French word for ‘intense’.
Drawing attention to the company’s involvement in Formula E race series, the all-electric concept was created in just under a year. Exterior designer Bob Romkes told us how the forms and details of the exterior design were created to pay homage to the iconic Citroen DS, a design classic that was decades ahead of other cars in its technological innovation and form language.
The E-Tense builds on DS’s now-familiar themes. Sharp geometric forms contrast with voluptuous surfacing and fine details, with carbon fiber elements underpinning the body and fractal patterns repeated throughout the design and transposed into the interior.
The front lamps – long regarded as car design jewelry – swivel as they did on the classic DS, though the interpretation is thoroughly modern. The eight individual LED lights give the car an unmistakable, highly technical look that is emphasized by the thin lighting strips below. The high mounted rear indicators are also a nod to the company’s 1955 ancestor.
Chrome is used to great effect throughout the exterior design: under the lamp units at the front and as a center spine that divides the hood, carries over the roof and culminates in the rear camera that replaces the backlight and acts as a rear view mirror.
But perhaps the most interesting single element is the car’s grille, a wonderfully sculptural and intricate design that was created using a parametric algorithm before being 3D printed. It is a symbol not only of the DS brand’s avant-garde design identity, but also a signifier of technology and cutting edge methodology.
Adding to the forward-looking aesthetic of the concept’s design, the DS E-Tense is powered by an electric motor that develops 402hp and 381 lb-ft of torque. Its lithium-ion batteries are situated under the car’s carbon fiber chassis, which keeps the 1633kg car’s center of gravity low. And while it is nearly five meters long (4720mm) and over two meters wide (2080mm), it is only 1290mm tall. The proportions afforded by this package are seductive.
The two-passenger interior, led by Pascal Grappey, is a combination of technical patterns and opulent materials inspired in part by the fashion industry. The seats and instrument panel feature a watchstrap style design, while the latter also includes a steel element that acts as an arm to hold the central screen, which is angled toward the driver. It’s all very futuristic.
DS is also keen to tout its French roots and high fashion slant, which are exemplified by the brand’s partnerships with luxury brands such as bespoke luggage and leather goods maker Maison Moynat, watchmaker BRM Chronographes and high-end audio manufacturer Focal, all of which have partnered with the brand to create bespoke accessories for the E-Tense concept’s interior.
Since its launch as a premium offshoot, the DS brand has been on an upward trajectory. The brand is particularly successful amongst image-conscious buyers in China, the largest car market in the world, where it has been marketed on its own since 2012 and in its own retail stores since 2014. With this latest concept, the company is firmly planting a stake in the premium car field and forging ahead with a unique take on future luxury.
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