In the last five weeks, I have reviewed almost one million pounds of luxury cars with a history of over 100 years of history behind them. It would seem obscenely impossible and borderline insane for DS Automobiles to try and even compete as a new luxury car brand. The trend now is electric and therefore all car markets are competing to enter this race. The marketing and creative challenge for any luxury car company now is to find the balance of either playing it safe as an existing car brand or gamble and revolutionize an electric car as never seen before.

DS Automobiles Paris MenStyleFashion Crossback SUV (7)

Why would DS Automobiles come in so late into the luxury SUV market and presume they can take on the likes of SUV gurus, Audi, Jaguar, Porsche, BMW let alone Range Rover.

“Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

DS Automobiles is not lemon let alone Citroën, it is a completely new team with a new car SUV luxury brand. Caution, if flying croissants or baguettes are not what you want to be been thrown at you, then don’t mention the word Citroën.

I have never experienced the DS Automobiles brand and I was going to find out more about it on a trip from the UK to Paris to watch the Formula E. On the drive over and back I would experience the  DS 7 CROSSBACK & DS 3 CROSSBACK

DS Automobiles Paris MenStyleFashion Crossback SUV (7)

Haute Couture

DS Automobiles DNA is Haute Couture on wheels, bringing fashion, lifestyle and everything Avant Garde into this SUV market. I would define them as a Parisian car company with an off  the wall ambition. Historically the French are known to thrive in revolutions. Therefore it comes to no surprise these Parisians have created at their own leisure and with an ambitious and revolutionary SUV concept.

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

In speaking to Global & Marketing Communications Director and DS VP Arnaud Ribault at the Formula E – Prix race in Paris we talk about the up and coming DS 7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE  hybrid and DS 3 CROSSBACK  E-TENSE full electric and why it is called Haute Couture Electric.

DS Auto Formula E

In 2019 DS Automobiles is launching the DS 7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4×4 a Plug-in hybrid Premium SUV and the DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE fully electric Premium Compact SUV. The model range will now be extended to petrol, diesel, and “Haute Couture Electric” choices.

Whilst driving in Paris I opened the sunroof in the DS 7 CROSSBACK and took this shot of the Triumphal Arch of the Star which is one of the most famous monuments in Paris.

Triumphal Arch of the Star) is one of the most famous monuments in Paris, France, standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées at the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly named Place de l’Étoile.

I have just driven several of DS Automobiles’ competitors latest SUV’s that are still fresh in my mind. Therefore my mind was in Haute Couture MODE and keen to test the DS 7 Crossback in Ultra Prestige trim level (top-of-the-range). What more than in Avant-Garde Mode than to drive from the United Kingdom, famous for London Fashion Week, to Paris for the Formula E race, the future is electric after all. My review will be on the Avant-Garde interior and not so much on the DS 7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4×4 model, as I did not get a chance to drive it (but one did chase me around the E-Prix circuit at one point).

Formula E

I have been attending fashion weeks around the globe since 2012, when it comes to Haute Couture and everything fashion, Paris is still leading the way globally.

Could Haute Couture history repeat itself regarding DS AutoMobiles? It is certainly in their DNA to succeed just think, Coco Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, and YSL

Unique excellence with French know-how is why this DS AutoMobiles will redefine the Haute Couture SUV market.

Gracie Opulanza Formula e

DS Avant-Garde Technology

When I saw the DS 7 CROSSBACK for the first time in Ashford Kent, it was dark. What instantly caught my Italian Avant-Garde eyes was the DS Wings that surround the grille and blend seamlessly into the DS ACTIVE LED VISION headlights.

Holy mother of diamonds, what the hell was I looking at? This is like finding a rare jewel in the Seine river captivating a rare visual pleasure and very Avant-Garde. 

The headlights were resembling faceted jewels, the LED modules once unlocked, were pivoting progressively by 180 degrees. These lights technology didn’t blind nor drivers who were trying to remain calm when they saw me in my Byzantin Gold Avante  Garde DS 7 CROSSBACK SUV. The DS 3 CROSSBACK  also had very cool looking lights with a purple tinted background when revealed.

Opening a car door these days has turned into a work of art and the DS 3 CROSSBACK model even has, flush fitting door handles. Very La Croix, I just like the word but the point I am making here is that DS AutoMobiles is bringing out my theatrical Italian personality here.

One of the exciting challenges for me in any new car brand is to find the start button of the DS CROSSBACK 7. After a while, it occurred to me that these Parisians like to do things a tad differently. I sat back and thought to think outside the box, where on earth could this most important button be?

DS AutoMobiles Crossback - Formula E Attack Mode Mission

Yes it is not the stop-start of a timer clock, this is the stop-start.

DS Formula E

Distinctive Styling – La Premiere

I am all about distinctive styling, as an Italian blooded woman it runs in my DNA. I have always been known to push the boundaries when it comes to unveiling new fashion trends. So when I stepped into the DS 7 CROSSBACK I felt I had met my match. Its exclusive styling OPERA Art black Basalt Nappa leather found on the dashboard and door panels, certainly caught my attention.

But what intrigued me more was the feel and look of the French tradition called pearl top-stitching an embroidery technique used in Haute Couture to produce highly sophisticated details. I don’t say this lightly because I just handed back a brand new SUV worth £198,000, where the brand is famously known for its leather interiors.

DS AutoMobiles Crossback - Formula E Attack Mode Mission

Regarding the interior, this had a wow factor on me. The toggle switches on the chrome finished central console feature a Clous de Paris guilloche trim finish, was something I had not seen before and could not get enough of.

The diamond shaped buttons throughout the car were superb and throughout the DS range, this is one of my favourite interior designs to date regarding SUV’s. The attention to detail in the interior is endless, an example of this was the matt black ventilator grill with chrome highlights. Honestly, who does this in cars today, welcome to the world of DS Automobiles Haute Couture.

I love gear selector design, and they are important because as a driver we use them all the time. For me, gear selectors are the core personality of the car. The design was so very French and the leather felt warm, posh and overall very easy to use.

DS AutoMobiles Crossback - Formula E Attack Mode Mission

Every luxury car has a watchmaking feature and this retro looking timepiece draws from the 16th-century skill called guillochage was yet another example of DS attention to detail.  This is an example of bespoke craftsmanship in a car, with perceived values at £6,000 plus with the skills required to create this clock has to match the price.

DS AutoMobiles Crossback - Formula E Attack Mode Mission

Relax Let DS Drive Me

DS Connected Pilot makes it possible to delegate driving and regain control at any time, it is another step towards autonomous driving. I drove on the highway towards Paris testing this function to every possible extreme. The vehicle precision adjusting the speed with respect to the car in front of me was where DS 7 CROSSBACK admirable strength lied, it was brilliant. I had to switch from MPH to kilometres and to avoid a speeding ticket this safety feature and efficiency gave me peace of mind at the wheel. I also could talk to my co-driver about how excited I was to be heading to Formula E and got him to explain the rules of this new and innovative racing sport.

DS AutoMobiles Crossback - Formula E Attack Mode Mission

The mirrors on the DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE. No, it is not snakeskin, but it looks so fashionable.

DS Active Scan Suspension

DS Active Scan Suspension is a technology to anticipate the road ahead to the camera placed behind the windscreen and linked electronically to the front and rear axles to adjust the suspension. My long drive was as comfortable as possible and this combined with an unexpected wide choice of massage chair modes – which was fantastic.

To add to my driving long distance comfort, a high-quality sounding stereo is important to me. The FOCAL High-End Sound system blew me away, I was so impressed with this. I did not expect the 12 speakers, a subwoofer and 515-watt amplifier in this DS 7 CROSSBACK to sound so good. Listening to French rap made it sound even better. Recently in other SUV’s I have reviewed the stereo systems and the overall experience have not been this good.

Couture Cockpit

I depend on the GPS so much and recently in a very expensive SUV I could not read the navigation lines, as the contrast was not strong enough. So I am proud to say the GPS was responsive, easy to use and the 10.3 touchscreen size was a huge plus for me. I am a big fan of the Head-Up display with clear navigation displayed, for me very important when I was driving to Paris.

DS AutoMobiles Crossback - Formula E Attack Mode MissionDS Automobiles Paris MenStyleFashion Crossback SUV (7)

Names also play a part with me regarding innovative features and driving fun factor. I laughed when I read the two choices of graphics display modes: Champagne Mode which has white tones for a soothing atmosphere, and PERFORMANCE Line which has Carmine Red, white and gold (themed with purpose – Carmine for passion, white for purity (electrification and fairness) and gold striving to win). I chose Champagne of course, which matched my luxurious destination as we were heading to Paris after all.

DS Automobiles Paris MenStyleFashion Crossback SUV (7)

Electric Innovation Formula E Track Experience

One of the most privileges is to be able to experience the track at Formula E, the exact same road as the driver’s race in Paris. This has to be one of the most stunning racing driving adventures ever for racing. It made perfect sense to give me a taste of the new stylish DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE 100% electric car on this track, in the hands of an experienced Formula E driver.

The DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE features a range of more than 200miles  (320km) and the ability to recharge 80% of the battery in just 30min at a 100KW charging port.

DS Automobiles Paris MenStyleFashion Crossback SUV 3

DS Automobiles Paris MenStyleFashion Crossback SUV 3 The shark fin exterior feature of the DS 3 CROSSBACK is super relevant to me being an Australian I could relate to this fin. It sure is distinctive and references the sister DS 3 premium 3-door hatchback model.

Formula E – DS Automobile Attack Mode

Words can’t describe coming into Formula E in 2019. I thrive on concepts that are in their infancy and teams who are trying to pioneer new and revolutionary ideas. Just like DS Automobiles pioneering a new and innovative way of driving against well-known races such as Formula One is no easy task. Next year big brands like Mercedes and Porsche will also join Formula E, racing in cities in all-electric race cars bring it closer to the audience and this is a game changer for all those involved.

Formula E Paris racing track DS Automobiles Electric cars (2)

The technology is behind the steering wheel and car

As electric cars will start to dominate our world, what better way to understand the concept than with Formula E. In the five years since Formula E has begun no driver has had to race in the rain let alone hail. As I was driven in the DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE (100% electric) around the Paris E-Prix circuit, I was in Pumped Up Mode. I noticed the DS Techeetah team members were very nervous about this unfamiliar rain. For this reason, I started trending the hashtag #CarnageMODE.

DS AutoMobiles Crossback - Formula E

This Formula E did not disappoint at all, especially the weather turned wet and very slippery and it was carnage from that moment forward. As a result of the rain and wet track, the cars were catapulting out of control and were smashing into walls. The biggest crash involved five cars at one point and we were all in #IncredibleMODE.

What has historically been deemed a race of silent and elegance turned into a very expensive data learning curve. Formula E is a sport that will continue to thrive off and on the grid and after this weekend this thrilling #carnageMODE has put Formula E that viewers can’t ignore any longer.

The DS Automobiles driver André Lotterer came in second place, which was impressive considering there were so many smashed up cars at the end of the race. If you want to understand the sport a little more, then listen to my interview. I had the privilege to meet André Lotterer racing driver for DS Techeetah in the FIA Formula E Championship.

DS AutoMobiles Crossback - Formula E Attack Mode Mission DS AutoMobiles Crossback - Formula E Attack Mode Mission

André Lotterer Techeetah in the FIA Formula E Championship

Listen to what André Lotterer had to say about Attack Mode and his review regarding DS Automobiles.

DS AutoMobiles Crossback - Formula E Attack Mode Andre Lottere

Attack Mode

In growing MenStyleFashion an unknown brand initially,  when it came to my competition AttackMODE mentality has got me to where I am today.

I am disruptive, innovative and well known for coming up with unexpected off the wall views, comments and marketing ideas.

I have been reviewing cars since 2015 the danger now for me is to be stuck in comfortMODE and take car brands for granted. In 2019 new luxury car brands have approached me to get frank and honest feedback regarding targeting a female market. Fashion and lifestyle is my passion, pioneering and marketing is my strength.

Thanks particularly to Mr Kevin Jones who was a perfect host and who has himself an unbelievable automotive history over  many years. He ablychauffeured me from Paris to Stanstead in the DS 3 CROSSBACK – in Ultra prestige trim level (top-of-the-range) and the miles just flew by and in great comfort.

The lasting question is, following my interview with Yves Bonnefont, CEO of DS Automobiles – whose long term ambition is to get DS Automobiles positioned (on the grid) in the top ten luxury brands of the world, is just how long that will take, but for sure DS Automobiles is heading in the right direction.

Thank you very much for one of the best racing weekends to date.

DS United Kingdom