DS Automobiles has revealed its new flagship model, the DS9. A large executive sedan, the DS9 conveys a perfect blend of heritage, remarkable savoir-faire and cutting-edge technology; and it aims to be the benchmark in terms of elegance and sophistication, its maker says, adding that this is a car for global markets.

The DS9 sits on a new version of the PSA Group’s EMP2 (Efficient Modular Platform) architecture. The sweeping lines are of a body that’s 4.93 metres long and 1.85 metres wide. That’s around the size of the current W213 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, which is 4,923 mm long and 1,852 mm wide.

One chooses a DS for design flair and the DS9 is very flamboyant for its kind. This sedan has a steeply raked rear window, fastback style, and the French brand describes the face as “expressive”, which we agree. The fascia features the DS wings and a parametric design grille with a 3D diamond effect. There’s a Clous de Paris sabre on the bonnet, the first time this DS interior signature has been used outside the cockpit.

There’s also a nod to the iconic 1955 DS in the form of cone shapes at the outside edges of the roof. Here, the cones are lights, a quirky and cool touch. Speaking of lights, the rear ones have the effect of 3D scales, and the slim third brake light at the base of the rear window is almost full width. Another nice cue is the flush fitting door handles.

The launch powertrain is a new E-Tense plug-in hybrid comprising a PureTech turbocharged petrol engine, an electric motor and an 11.9 kWh battery. Combined, there’s 225 hp and zero emissions electric range of between 40 and 50 km in the WLTP cycle.

The e-motor, through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, can deploy 110 hp and 320 Nm of torque. It’s active when driving off from a standstill, boosting acceleration at any speed and for driving in zero emissions mode up to 135 km/h. Electric mode is the default on start-up, while the Hybrid mode leaves the e-motor-ICE balance for the car to figure out.

An E-Tense Sport mode combines the effort of both the motor and engine. It also adjusts the mapping of the accelerator pedal, gearbox, steering and active suspension. This mode “intensifies driver enjoyment and dynamics all with complete peace of mind,” DS says.

Back to the PHEV part. There’s a Braking function that enhances energy recovery and an E-Save function that guarantees selected levels of battery-stored energy to do chosen parts of the journey in EV mode – say, when the driver knows he’ll be heading into the city centre or designated low-emissions areas. The 7.4 kW on-board charger does its job in 1.5 hours.

DS says that the DS9 range will soon be topped by two more E-Tense PHEVs – the first with 250 hp and increased range, and the second with 360 hp and AWD. In China, the 250 hp E-Tense version will be offered from launch. A 225 hp regular PureTech engine model without the PHEV bits will also be available. All variants come with an eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox.

The DS Active Scan suspension employs a camera that scans the road, level sensors, accelerometers and drivetrain sensors to record movement and prepare the damping of each wheel for road imperfections. The French used to be suspension masters, and DS says that this “21st century DS suspension” combines the hushed comfort of a prestigious saloon with the dynamics of a grand touring coupe. Ride comfort without equal is the promise.

The French brand is highlighting the DS Lounge interior of the DS9, which boasts plenty of leather in various forms. The dashboard is fully covered in Nappa leather, the roof lining and sun visors are in Alcantara, and the door handles are hand-wrapped in leather. Other interesting cues are the watch bracelet design of the seats and crystal-shaped touch-sensitive buttons.

The sedan’s 2.90 metre wheelbase carves out decent rear room. The seats are heated, cooled and massaging, a first in the class. The rear central armrest has leather, storage areas with built-in USB ports, controls for the massaging seats and multi-coloured welcome lighting. In the sound department, there’s a 14-speaker Focal Electra sound system specially developed for the DS9.

There are a couple of DS Inspirations interior themes to choose from. Named after famous quarters in Paris, each has its own character with seats in leather or Alcantara. You get grained leather seats in “Bastille” or “Rivoli”, the Performance Line comes in black Alcantara, while the Art Rubis Nappa leather of the “Opera” comes in a watch strap design.

The latter is the range-topping spec and it also comes with adjustable multi-coloured ambient lighting and a steering wheel in Art Rubis leather.

The controls on the centre console are finished with the Clous de Paris guillochage, the signature of fine French watchmaking, reiterated by the 180 degree rotating B.R.M clock on the dashboard. It’s nice to see something different in one of the more formal car segments – what do you think of the DS9’s flair and fashion?