behind the wheel of the powerful DS electric concept

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A French electric supercar? DS follows the path, but the road is still very long. For now, we take control of the prototype.

Gregory Lenormand/DPPI


DS invited us to test their 815 hp DS E-Tense Performance concept. In addition to its lightning acceleration, this prototype is above all a technological laboratory for the brand’s future electric cars.

Have you seen this concept before? It’s not fake, as the carbon casing is that of the 2016 E-Tense concept, on which DS has grafted new front and rear faces that herald the styling and light signatures of its future models. But by taking the name Performance, this concept has changed above all its underside: gears, electric motors and innovative battery, everything is new. “Many mechanical elements come from our Formula E and our experience in this electric single-seater championship now benefits this prototype.”, tells us Thomas Chevaucher, director of DS Performance.

Before entering the small cockpit of the prototype on the runway at Le Castellet (Var) airfield, we get to know its technological content better. Electric motors are therefore those found in Formula E (FE). The 250 kW (340 hp) front is that of the current FEs and the 350 kW (475 hp) rear is a new generation block that will power the FE Gen 3 next year. Total power reaches 815 hp and the DS does 0-100 km/h in just 2 seconds, which is quite a feat when you consider that a Bugatti Chiron does this exercise in 2.5 seconds and that ‘at this level of performance every tenth gained requires colossal work. But, information taken, those famous 2 seconds are at the moment theoretical, the prototype never ran at full power (it’s still in development).

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It was in a hangar at the Le Castellet aerodrome that we got to know the DS E-Tense Performance concept.

Gregory Lenormand/DPPI

In addition to sheer performance, it is the technological laboratory that is interesting and particularly the innovative battery developed by Saft for DS Performance. The brand does not say much about the chemistry of this new generation battery, but one of its innovations is that it is completely immersed (cells + electronics) in a so-called electrical fluid that regulates its temperature. This immersive cooling system and the piece of software that DS Performance developed with its Formula E engineers contribute to the overall efficiency and allow you to limit the battery’s capacity to 25 kWh. This low power (not even half of a Renault Zoé battery!) is compensated by the high regeneration capacity to guarantee a range of around 250 km.

During the braking phases, the battery actually regenerates up to 600 kW, that is, six times the power of a good electric car today. This is also the axis of development of the DS: limiting the size of the battery to limit its weight and working on strong regeneration power to extend autonomy. As a result, the battery weighs just 250 kg and allows the prototype to display a total weight of 1,250 kg. This controlled mass and the concept’s aerodynamics generate an average consumption of 10 kWh per 100 km according to DS Performance, a value that no production electric vehicle can achieve. But many manufacturers are working on this efficiency, like Mercedes with its EQXX concept that we tested. Finally, on the charging side, the 800 V on-board network allows for a power of 350 kW in direct current. Theoretically, we can therefore fill with watts in just 5 minutes!

After using advice from the engineers at DS Performance, it’s time to get on board with the concept. The cockpit atmosphere is a mixture of supercar for its narrowness and racing car for its raw materials.. There are also two screens, one as a counter, the other for the multimedia system. The steering wheel is that of a Formula E with its forest of buttons to secure the settings. We will be happy with a button and paddles to switch to Drive mode and perform launch control. If an electric car is silent, this is not the case here. From the start, electric motors whistle, drum and create an atmosphere of competition. The full carbon bucket seats, in which you sit on the floor with your legs stretched out towards two large pedals, confirm that the decor is unusual.

Le Castellet airfield runway as a playground

The Paul Ricard circuit nearby would have been an ideal playground for testing the DS concept, but the test protocol provided by the brand is two acceleration runs on the airfield track and power is limited to around 650 channels for our test of this model. exclusive. After a first hard acceleration that propels the prototype without delay to 180 km/h with a thrust that we don’t know in a production thermal vehicle, I position myself at the end of the runway for Launch Control. When I let go of the paddle, I make the mistake of lifting the throttle for a split second (probably the stress of leaving my stomach at the starting line), but that doesn’t stop the DS prototype from going off like a catapultwell helped by four-wheel drive and Michelin tires that bite through the bitumen.

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ds concept performance and tensa 2022

The racing equipment and many parts of the concept come from the DS Formula E team.

Gregory Lenormand/DPPI

The speed of 100 km/h is reached in a short moment that is difficult to quantify, the contraction in the body is what you feel in the craziest races… and my stomach was on the starting line. The thrust hardly doubles up to the top speed of 228 km/h which is materialized by the lights on the steering wheel, a speed at which the car lacks a bit of stability (you have to be very gentle with the steering wheel!). Surprisingly, there is almost no engine braking when I release the throttle, contrary to what one might think for regeneration. It is in fact in contact with the brakes that the recovery is triggered. This choice of freewheeling mode is identical to that of DS team drivers in Formula E during races, but the regeneration force remains configurable.

Some handling exercises on the return show that the prototype lies flat and that its agility is encouraged by its very incisive steering, its low center of gravity (the battery is installed in the rear center position) and its Torque Vectoring. To be honest, this test is too short to explore the dynamics of the concept. On the other hand, Carlos Tavares, the general manager of Stellantis, pushed him a little further by doing two laps of the Monaco circuit behind his wheel (video below)

DS E-Tense performance test results

This concept confirms that the instantaneous impulse of the electric goes beyond what we know with thermal models. But this DS prototype is above all a laboratory that serves as a communication vector for the brand to show its involvement in the electric car, now that it has announced that all its new models from 2024 will be battery-powered cars. A sacred commercial as well as technological bet because at the moment DS only has an electric model with the DS3 Crossback E-Tense whose autonomy is not up to competitors and customer expectations.

The innovative battery of the E-Tense concept doesn’t look ready to go to market for at least 5 years, so DS, and more generally the Stellantis group, must quickly press other levers to face the competition. in their production models. The future electric DS4, slated for 2024 with an unprecedented Saft battery made by Total Energie, will provide an initial answer. As for the arrival of the E-Tense Performance concept to the range, nothing has yet been decided on the part of DS management and, above all, the work to be done to develop the first French electric supercar in series is colossal.

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ds concept performance and tensa 2022

Who wants to see this concept go to the series? We, but the DS brand’s priorities are elsewhere at the moment.

Gregory Lenormand/DPPI

DS E-Tense Performance Concept Fact Sheet

  • Length: 4.70m
  • Width: 1.95m
  • Height: 1.28m
  • Weight: 1250kg
  • Electric motors: 250 kW front and 350 kW rear
  • Total power: 815 hp
  • Gearbox: no
  • Transmission: four wheels
  • Battery Capacity: 25kWh
  • DC charging power: 350 kW
  • Regeneration power: 600 kW
  • 0 to 100 km/h: 2 seconds (estimated)

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