DS E-Tense Performance: French Revolution

Do you know those catapult roller coasters? In which you are shot forward at full speed, so fast, so suddenly, so jerkily that you gasp? Then you can guess what I’m writing about now. The big difference: I have full control over the catapult and have to give the command to launch it myself.

I’m sitting in the DS E-Tense Performance. An 815 hp electric monster. One motor pulls with 250 kW (339 hp) on the front axle, one pushes with 350 kW (475 hp) from the rear. Our test track: Le Castellet airport in southern France. The 1.7-kilometre runway lies in front of me – and I have a Formula E steering wheel in my hands.
DS E Tense

The slim daytime running lights consist of 800 LEDs and two cameras.

Formula E is one reason why this sports car exists at all. DS Automobiles, the Parisian luxury offshoot of the Stellantis group, has been active in the electric formula since 2015. And successful. The French were champions four times, twice with the drivers Jean-Éric Vergne and António Félix da Costa, twice as a team. In anticipation of the 2023 season, in which the engines will be revved up from 250 to 350 kW, the engineers have built this concept study.

Carbon shell, bucket seats, elegant black leather interior. Strapped in with a four-point belt, I flip the start switch on the right above my head. The electric beast silently comes to life. Put your left foot on the brake and pull the right paddle shifter to engage first gear. Gently step on the gas with your right foot. The E-Tense rolls off.

DS E Tense

Futuristic cockpit: The DS E-Tense Performance is controlled with a Formula E steering wheel.

“Our goal is to incorporate the experience gained in Formula E and the know-how from our titles into a project that shows the high-performance electric car of tomorrow,” explains DS Performance Director Thomas Chevaucher. At the same time, the technicians want to test components that will be used in Formula E from 2023.

From 0 to 100 in 2.0 seconds

That’s why the E-Tense Performance has two (current, but partly pimped) motors from the electric racing series. The inverter, the drive shafts, the transmission, even the dampers come from Formula E. The result: 815 hp and 8000 Newton meters of torque allow the courageous sprint from 0 to 100 in 2.0 seconds. For comparison: Formula 1 needs about 2.5 seconds for this.

But first I accelerate from my slow speed to 230 km/h. The car hums along the runway as if pulled by a string.

DS E Tense

The body is painted in a color that looks different depending on the viewing angle.

The DS feeling also electrifies me, the driver. The windsock, my braking point, is approaching faster than expected. My left foot is pressing on the brake pedal. The sports car decelerates evenly and in good time, but with almost no feedback on the ball of my foot.

The reason: The mechanical brake is only installed for safety purposes. Deceleration is provided by a brake-by-wire system that brakes via the two motor-generator units and recuperates with an unprecedented 600 kW. It’s no wonder that the battery from partner Total Energies, which is slumbering in a shell made of carbon-aluminium composite material behind the seats, needs to be cooled after every journey. Capacity of the innovative battery with “immersive” cooling system? Will not reveal DS. Just this much: I could idly press the stamp for around 15 minutes – including the brake pads, of course.

From 2024 every new DS model will be electric

Back to the catapult cockpit. Preparing for takeoff with launch control system. “It’s every engineer’s dream,” says Thomas Chevaucher. “Because it learns the tire’s sweet spot live.” In other words, the moment of perfect grip. Spinning wheels? none. Let’s go: pull the paddle on the left behind the steering wheel, step on the gas, take a deep breath, conquer doubts, let go of the paddle.
DS E Tense

Electro beast: The DS E-Tense Performance races down the runway with our reporter at the controls.

Then the 21-inch tires grab it. My head is snapped back by gravity, my features slipping. Only when I can breathe again after what feels like 30 seconds do I yell a swear word into the helmet. What was that? Afterwards I find out that it took me 1.5 seconds to go from zero to 50 km/h. At Tempo 75 I lifted. As far as I can remember, my stomach was still on the starting line and has meanwhile been replaced by butterflies. So I had to wait for him. Understandable, right?

At least now I know: e-mobility is electrifying. The E-Tense Performance will remain a study. But a foretaste of what is possible if every new DS model is electric from 2024.

Live la France!


engine Two electric motors
perfomance 250 kW front, 350 kW rear
system performance 600 kW (815 hp)
Max. Torque 8000 Nm (at the wheel)
drive four wheel drive
0-100km/h 2.0s
Price not specified (prototype)

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