DS – A Luxury Brand Recreated
Depending on the way you look at DS, the brand is still a baby. But that’s just the prestige version belonging to Groupe PSA. The other is a memory – a name from yesteryear.
Let me explain. Citroen DS was around between 1955 and 1975. The DS 19 was ushered in during October 1955 after years of cloak-and-dagger development. It was the replacement for Citroen’s Traction Avant.
It proved a popular model – with 12,000 orders taken the first day the wraps were taken off it. The car was a front-wheel-drive, front-engined executive model that later came in saloon, estate and convertible forms. All in all, Citroen flogged 1,455,746 of them – not bad, eh?
Today, and as mentioned, DS is the flagship brand of Groupe PSA. PSA encompasses Citroen and Peugeot, but it also retails Vauxhall and Opel.
The concept for DS was sparked after the French firm wanted a premium marque to add to its armour. While it had attempted distinguishing its different brands by cost, like Audi and VW, Groupe PSA didn’t have the cachet to garner premium pricing.
The solution lay in emulating Lexus – the highfalutin make of affordable brand Toyota. Yep, that’s right; it dawned on the Gallic multinational automaker that all it had to do was the same –make DS a separate product. And why DS, I hear you ask? Well, Groupe PSA wanted to make the most out of the heritage and legendary status the Citroen DS name had once earned itself.
The first ‘new era’ DS model was the Citroen DS 3 in 2010. It was an instant winner and sold by the bucket-load. The same year, the DS 4 was launched. The bigger car was well-liked, and by 2012, 65,000 DS 4s had rolled off the production line.
Then the Citroen DS 5 kicked in during 2011, going on to be relaunched as the DS 5 in 2015 after Citroen re-named the DS models.
There is a DS 6, but we don’t have it in Europe. It’s made in China, and you’ll only see it in Asia. Launched in 2014, it was the second model to be produced under the DS name without the Citroen logo.
Yes, before you ask, there is a DS 7. And this is the first European SUV from the premium brand. The DS 7 Crossback was unveiled in 2017 and has been on sale in the UK since the beginning of 2018. The President of France, Emmanuel Macron liked it so much he selected it to be his presidential car.
As alluded to, up until 2015 DS was part of Citroen. It was only after 2015 that the Citroen branding was kicked to the kerb and DS became a marque in its own right.
So what next for DS? Well, it has just launched the new DS 3 Crossback. Like its bigger sibling, the DS 7, the DS 3 gets the Crossback moniker to highlight the fact it’s an SUV. The compact car is longer than the popular DS 3 hatch it supersedes – but it gets a bunch of tech and rear doors.
As you may have guessed, the new models are the beginning of a product offensive that Groupe PSA hopes will position DS against premium adversaries such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Will it manage it? Only time will tell.
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