DS will get serious about challenging the German premium brands next year when it launches an Audi Q5 rival — its first SUV in Europe.
It is also preparing to launch a smaller Audi Q2 rival and other distinctively styled mainstream models in quick succession.
The Q5 rival is likely to be revealed at the Geneva motor show in March before sales begin in early 2018. Its success is seen as crucial to DS’s goal of taking on the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. DS plans to offer an alternative take on luxury by drawing on the heritage and reputation of French craftsmanship and fashion leadership.
DS showed a striking SUV concept called the Wild Rubis at the Shanghai motor show in 2013 and has sold the more conventional DS 6 SUV in China since 2014. However, the Q5 rival is said to be an all-new design, with some styling influences from the Wild Rubis.
Sitting on the PSA Group’s EMP2 platform, the SUV will be the halo model in DS’s line-up and introduce a different design theme from the brand’s current 3, 4 and 5 range. It will feature sharper exterior styling and upgraded interior quality that bosses believe will shine a spotlight on DS’s emerging characteristics.
“Avant-garde styling is one of the key pillars of the DS brand,” DS boss Yves Bonnefont told Autocar. “Combine that with benchmark technology and connectivity, faultless quality and refinement and dynamics attuned to a comforting balance between sport and serenity and you have our DNA. Our rivals are at least 25 years old. We want to be born modern and arrive with the very latest technologies.”
The new SUV is expected to be a technology standard bearer for PSA. It will be the first car sold with the group’s new 1.5-litre diesel DVR engine and its first plug-in hybrid powertrain, as well as other mainstream petrol and diesel units. A range-topping petrolpowered Performance model with about 240bhp is expected.
The DVR diesel will replace PSA’s 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre diesels. It will be offered with power outputs of up to 130bhp and be notable for its emissions reduction technology. It is expected to be sold with the option of an allnew, ultra-efficient eight-speed automatic transmission.
Company bosses have long hinted that DS will be the first PSA brand to offer plug-in and fully electric technology. All-electric drivetrains are expected to be launched with the next-generation 3 and its equivalent SUV, which will be the first PSA models to sit on the new CMP platform that has been co-developed with Chinese partner and partowner Dongfeng.
DS has seen its market share in Europe slip slightly since it formally split from Citroën in 2015, although accounting is difficult due to the non-separation of sales prior to the separation. Likewise, it has lost some ground in China, although this is largely in line with changing market trends and rising demand for home-built SUVs.
“We are not worried by selling fewer cars, as long as profits are rising,” said PSA chief Carlos Tavares. “You cannot build a premium brand overnight and you cannot build it by selling high volumes of cars at high discounts. We have a job to do, and if that means reducing volumes slightly, that is okay.”
Later next year, DS will launch a smaller SUV with even more dramatic styling than that of the Q5 rival, followed by a revamped 3, 4 and 5 range. A large GT in the vein of the 2014 Numero 9 concept is also possible before the end of the decade in order to build brand cachet.