That the Formula E championship lacks the kudos, mass worldwide appeal and, significantly, the seemingly bottomless piggy bank of its Formula 1 counterpart, is an indisputable fact. However, the embryonic all-electric motorsport series, still only in its second season of competition, can claim to hold its own against Bernie Ecclestone’s sporting juggernaut in one key area; the development and enhancement of technologies that will one day benefit the average road user. This trickle-down effect from track to road has played a particularly key role in the advancement of hybrids and EVs over the past decade or so. It’s a trend that will inevitably continue.
Undoubtedly, DS’s shiny new toy, unveiled to the world this week at the Geneva Motor Show, would never have been a reality without the know-how gained by the French brand’s involvement in the world’s premier EV racing series. Presenting the all-electric, 402bhp concept that’s taking Geneva by storm; the DS E-Tense.
Barely a year after the official launch of the brand as a stand-alone entity, DS has created a high-performance electric GT car boasting performance figures that are as arresting as its uber-cool design. Silently producing 380lb/ft of instant torque and 402bhp from its chassis-mounted lithium-ion battery pack, the zero emissions GT glides serenely from 0 to 62mph in just 4.5 seconds up to a Tesla Model S-rivalling 155mph top speed. Though lacking the stamina of the Tesla, DS claim’s its concept EV will still muster an impressive 224 miles on a single charge, although more aggressive treatment of the throttle would clearly diminish this figure significantly.
At 4.72m long and 1.29m high, the E-Tense is a good deal shorter and lower than the Model S high performance electric coupé. Its streamlined grand tourer silhouette, intersected by a chrome-plated spine running the length of the bonnet and roof, slices through the air with integrated aero features such as a carbon fibre rear diffuser and flat undertray. Stowed just beneath the E-Tense’s carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, the lithium-ion battery pack’s low down position grants the GT EV a particularly low centre of gravity and an even torque distribution between the axles. As a result, handling and cornering is especially sharp and responsive.
Just a cursory glance is enough for the E-Tense to pull you under its spell. The concept’s brooding menace is perfectly accentuated by DS’s choice of metallic green as the body colour. A trademark feature is the pair of jewel-like headlamps that swoop down to bookend the low-slung meshed front grille.
The complete lack of a rear windscreen transforms the back view of the E-Tense. Its removal and replacement with digital rear vision cameras has afforded DS designers the licence to get creative. Lines and contours abound, whilst indicators integrated into the roof are inspired by the original 1955 DS. Dragon scale-like LED tail lights sit above the massive carbon-fibre diffuser to round off a seriously potent looking exterior package.
This painstaking attention to detail doesn’t stop on the outside. Climb aboard the E-Tense and you are greeted with a premium quality cabin space, supposedly the fruit 800 hours’ worth of labour by DS upholsters and interior designers. Particularly intricate in its conception is watchstrap style design that adorns both the seats and dashboard, which is itself finished in industrial cold steel. Also worthy of a mention is the novel, tulip-shaped 12-inch steering wheel. The E-Tense’s on-board infotainment tech is mostly concentrated in a 12-inch digital handset that is coupled with the 10-inch touchscreen.
The E-Tense concept EV is undoubtedly the biggest statement of intent from the fresh-faced DS stable yet. Together with its Formula E odyssey, the French brand is proving that it’s plugged in and feeling the pulse of the EV revolution.