It is not every day that a concept car down the street and mingles with the traffic. Even less so for a journalist to be invited to the lead. Yet this is what it comes to happen with the DS X E-Tense. The French have been able to see it at the last Mondial de l’automobile. You have admired in the newspapers. We have the lead. The experiment took place on an open road, in the valley of Chevreuse. It gave rise to scenes of burlesque and unusual, either when crossing villages or on the road, in the open countryside. The appearance of the DS X E-Tense has brought out the customers of a cafe in the street; a baker was believed to be the victim of a hallucination. Even the conveyors of an armoured vehicle, have forgotten the space of a judgment in their security to capture the scene on their smartphones.

lines asymmetric

The lines of the concept DS carry us in the future. Francois Cap/François Bouchon / Le Figaro

The thick fog, which nappait its white mantle the paris region on the day of our test, added a mystical dimension. I must admit that the DS-X-E-Tense, it’s a ufo that landed on our planet. The craft looks like nothing that existed. If the forms are all reminiscent of anything known, the shape exalts the codes of the fun car and the tray of course. This vehicle non-standard and free from any contingency propels us into the future, and it is the vision of the designers to 2035. “The initial idea was to perform a side-car,” says Thierry Metroz, head of design for the brand. The concept takes the fundamental with the driver in free air and the passenger is housed in a transparent capsule.

As before, the back presents an asymmetry, but on the side reversed. FRANCOIS CAP/François Bouchon / Le Figaro

The vision of the face of the machine does not lack of surprise. Something is wrong but we do not know how to explain it all away. The car is traviole? Optical Illusion or sight deficient? Nothing of all this. The concept presents an asymmetrical aesthetic. The small grille is not positioned in the center of the front, but moved to left side. The band navy blue linking the cockpit to the front grille and slim fit but also the midrib of hood right side emphasize the asymmetry. The concept seems to have been drawn according to a X, because, in a perfect opposition, the back ends in a point on the right side. In fact, the flat surface behind the driver is especially large. The different sizes of the light beams to LED, which pierce through the weave diamond DS also carries the dichotomy of forms.

The passenger space very luxurious, is distinguished by its floor transparent allowing to see the road. Francois Cap/François Bouchon / Le Figaro

A Formula E recarrossée

The structure was conditioned in large part on the volumes and the architecture of a concept imposing. It borrows its chassis and its technology to the car electric DS engage successfully in the world championship of Formula E. For season 5 which starts in a few weeks, the French manufacturer will bear the number 1 on the flanks of the car of the world champion Jean-Eric Vergne he has recovered by partnering with the team Techeetah. The length is similar to that of a road (4.75 m) but the width of 2.10 metres belongs to the realm of prototypes and requires to be extra cautious on the road will be open. As to the height of 1.20 meter, it refers to a supercar.

The view from the passenger seat. Francois Cap/François Bouchon / Le Figaro

The DS X E-Tense offers two cars in one. Left side, found the cockpit of a single-seater. Access is by deploying the door in a wing of 1.60 meter in length. The bucket in leather wife, the morphology of the driver and is adjusted electrically. If the steering wheel in the form of tulip seems to be a legacy of the american 1950s, the buttons controlling the various functions of the vehicle, refer to the DS7 Crossback. They are distributed at the top of the two sidewalls of the cockpit. Right-hand side, we find the switches of management of the transmission (D, N, R). Those on the left side control the lighting and the electric hand brake.

While the driver is exposed to all winds, the passenger is sheltered under a transparent bubble, forming a single block with the door. His form has been the subject of many discussions. In the end, a shroud, and angular has been withheld, performed in three parts. A single piece of glass was not an option. The door opening action butterfly is not less than 2.16 metres long! The bucket leather fixed perfectly adapts to the structure of the car. It puts you in a position of semi-recumbent and allows to lengthen her legs. In front of you, a small bucket, taking the form of a pouf when it is folded allows you to sit a child.

The steering wheel tulip refers to another time. Francois Cap/François Bouchon / Le Figaro

The atmosphere is deliberately more cozy. The beach at the rear and the left wall are covered with real duck feathers from the maison Lemarié, feather-renowned. This is the first time that a manufacturer uses this material being worked by the great houses of fashion. This source of inspiration symbolized the French luxury that DS claims to convey. “We have seen in the feather of the duck proximity to the carbon at the level of glare. And the feathers that we have worked into a rhombus as the frame DS, impart an impression of motion,” says Vincent Lobry, head of Color and Material concepts DS.

At the front of the passenger space, the board is covered with sycamore flamed, a species of maple. “This wood used by the luthiers resonates with the hi-fi system developed by the house Focal”, he continues. But don’t look for in the choice of the blue tint of duck’s a link with the feathers. This hue provides a link with the color of the launch of the DS3 Crossback. We will see later, this makes the originality of this space is the floor made of transparent glass. This idea, defended by Tony Brigas, responsible for the design of the prototypes of the living room, allows you to see the road and be closer to the elements.

the fashion world has inspired the decor duck feather made by maison Lemarié. Francois Cap/François Bouchon / Le Figaro

The design team invited me to take a seat in the cockpit. It sits low to the ground, as in a single-seater. A driving position that does not tame easily the template of the machine, and in particular the distance which separates you from the right edge of the road. It serves as the buttocks each time you meet a vehicle. Drive Mode engaged, the DS leaves its location in the buzzing characteristic of shas electric propulsion. Of the FE, this concept also borrows its technology.

The DS delivers a power of 180 kW. (240 hp). Francois Cap/François Bouchon / Le Figaro

The engine delivers 180 kW, the power in the race last year. To facilitate the support of the hands, the experts of DS Performance have blocked it on the mode “road”, impeding his speed to 90 km/h. But each franche acceleration on wet road results in a primer of figure skating. It is so much less tried to drive sportingly as the brake pedal, hard as a piece of wood, slows down more than it slows down the vehicle. And with the speed and the mercury does not exceed 6 degrees, the vision of the landscape is quickly blurred while the cold lash at the front. The jumps-wind is free, and a helmet would have been the solution if the dew is not covered, not the visor. At each speed bump, stop to raise the height of the box.

At the option of kilometres, there are the sensations experienced at the wheel of the Formula E. Hair swept by the wind, intoxicated by the sucking noise of the electric machine, we discover a new form of intoxication. The DS X E-Tense testimony that the thrill may be at the wheel of an electric vehicle. And perhaps even more so on the passenger side, where see the road under his feet is an incredible experience.

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