DS E-Tense Performance: The E study beats the F1 in the sprint

You know those catapult roller coasters where you’re shot forward at full speed, so fast, so suddenly, so jerkily, you’re gasping for breath? 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.

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I’m sitting in the DS E-Tense Performance. an 815-hp-Electro Monster. A motor pulls with 250 kW (339 hp) on the front axle, one pushes with 350 kW (475 hp) from behind. 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. Formula E is one reason why this sports car exists at all.
DS E-Tense Performance

Bianca and the Beast: Reporter Garloff is allowed to drive the brute DS E-Tense Performance – anticipation and respect are great.

DS Automobiles, the luxury offshoot of Citroën, 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.
DS E-Tense Performance

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

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.

Experiences from Formula E for the series

“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.

DS E-Tense Performance

Incredible performance data: 815 hp and 8000 Nm bring the E-Tense to 100 km/h in a smooth two 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 are from Formula E. The result: 815 hp and 8,000 Newton meters of torque enable the courageous sprint from 0 to 100 in 2.0 seconds. For comparison: Formula 1 needs about 2.5 seconds for this.

DS E-Tense Performance

The E-Tense Performance recuperates with an incredible 600 kW. This makes the mechanical brake almost superfluous.

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

A mechanical brake just for safety

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.

The acceleration takes your breath away

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 sweet spot of the tires live.” So the moment of the 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 Performance

All in black: How To Cars reporter Garloff has taken a seat in the bucket seat with black leather inserts.

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: 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!

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