I was in the fortunate position before Christmas to spend a week with the impressively styled DS4, a car reviewed on MotorMartin under the heading: DS4 Prestige THP 210 S&S 6-speed manual: Race With The Devil. A car, I think it’s fair to say, that looks simply incredible. What was more impressive though, was how DS spent time referencing their own history when discussing the DS4 with MotorMartin, forging links between the old and the new. Respecting their heritage, moving their products forwards whilst still keeping an eye on their own history. A rare treat in these days of permanently looking forward and assuming that innovation is a modern invention.
The DS story started way back on 6th October 1955 in Paris with the show stopping introduction of their first car, the imaginatively titled DS. A revelation in style and technology that, when unveiled to the expectant crowds, caused quite a stir. And incredibly, one that you can still watch today on the short film below, kindly donated to MotorMartin from DS’s own official YouTube channel.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that the DS had it easy back in Paris as the competition was incredible. Think BMW 507, Chrysler ST Special and Facel-Vega and that’s just scratching the surface, all of which are cars that still look superb today, even at 61 years old. Rather incredibly, especially for the time was the performance of the DS at the Paris Motor Show as the DS was displayed with hydropneumatic suspension and hydraulic assistance which, when combined with the truly original and futuristic styling, the all new Citroën gained 750 sales in 45 minutes, 12,000 in just one day and almost 80,000 by the end of the show. A quite phenomenal performance at the time and one that remains impressive even today.
So what was it that made the Citroën DS stand out from the crowd and get noticed and can we see and feel any of that all important DS DNA coursing through the modern range produced today?
DS themselves state that their all new DS 4 is: characterised by its distinctive, purposeful shape. This elegantly cloaks a car that’s rewarding to drive but still comfortable. Its luxurious interior is hand-built by skilled craftsmen yet packed with the latest in-car technology. It demonstrates our philosophy of meticulously matching design and technology with comfort. And it’s here that we get perhaps the first clue as to how the modern cars produced by DS Automobiles today are related all the way back to that original model first shown in 1955. DS have always put much emphasis on the ride quality and styling of their cars with each model over the years designed with innovative suspension designs and extravagant exteriors, features that are still important and feature prominently in the current DS range with their superb ride quality and looks.
DS were famous throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s for their use of a variety of innovative hydraulic components such as, hydropneumatic suspension, hydraulic high pressure brakes, operated by a small mushroom shaped “pedal”, hydraulic power steering and a hydraulically operated semi-automatic gear box + clutch. All of which were designed to provide the driver and their passengers with a sophisticated and unique vehicle that was comfortable to travel distance in, one that Citroën felt was on the more luxurious side of the fence from that of the competition.
And although DS Automobiles of today do not put quite so much faith in the hydraulic side of car development, their commitment to quality is not in doubt. DS themselves, state that: Every piece of leather used inside New DS 4 and DS 4 Crossback goes through a painstaking 21-hour process to look, smell and feel just right. It’s one example of how far we go to ensure each car meets our exacting standards of comfort and refinement and you can imagine the very same working practices going on over the years regarding the same commitment to quality and refinement synonymous with DS.
Looking back on the original Paris launch, it’s clear to MotorMartin that this futuristic car must have shaken the more traditional manufacturers and consumers out of their 1950s stupor. With its original and distinctive styling, the original DS still creates an unmistakable silhouette, if you’re lucky enough to see one on the road today that is and if you look at the all new DS5, I think that it creates almost the same effect in 2017 as the original did all those years ago.
DS Automobiles are still referencing their original model 61 years later and you know what? There’s something refreshing about that.
Where will you go?