If you thought French automotive brand DS got weird with the cascading lizard scales of the 2014 Divine or 2016 E-Tense concepts, you haven't seen anything yet. DS takes that weirdness to a new level in exploring what automotive luxury might look like in the year 2035 – it might look like the X E-Tense concept, but it probably won't. This unique "object of desire" blurs the lines between roadster and sedan, between relaxed autonomy and invigorating track driving, between man and machine.
The X E-Tense has very little in common with the 2016 E-Tense, save for eccentric design and electric power. An object of contrasts and asymmetries, the X is an explorative exercise in creative thinking.
"The concept cars we have seen at motor shows in recent years haven't really moved us," says DS design director Thierry Metroz. "They give the impression that the notion of pleasure has been sacrificed in the new generation of electric and/or autonomous concept cars, which tend to immerse occupants in a bubble packed with display screens and synthetic seats."
DS, instead, creates a passive/aggressive dichotomy within its concept car – a feral beast from behind the wheel, a nurturing mother on the passenger side. Split clean down the middle, the X puts the driver in a race-inspired, open-air cockpit and the passengers in a cozy, full-roofed sedan. Described as a "sensuous capsule" below a clear glass canopy, the passenger cabin offers a particularly roomy space for one passenger, with the option of deploying a second seat for another.
To emphasize the two different sides of this four-wheeled coin, DS designers have woven contrasting visuals throughout, creating a sculpture of intersecting planes, creases and recesses. Your eyes bounce from neatly creased bulges, to flat planes, to dark voids; from open, wind-funneling front fenders to closed, wheel-swallowing rear fenders; and from a powerful hood mass to a low, tiny cabin area.
The DS team has also blown up the usual headlight fixtures, letting light leak out onto the body surfaces. The front lights swoop down from the hood to fill in those massive intakes, wrapping out around the bumper and up the wings. The wavelike red glow of the rear lights fills in recesses, adding brightness to the skeletal rear structure.
The lights, the bulging fenders, the diffuser – every element at the rear adds up to a powerful force about to surge forward violently. With up to 1,360 hp (1,014 kW) on tap, the X E-Tense is most definitely that. Only the journey doesn't start at the rear as the car pulls off the line under power from two front-wheel motors.
The full megawatt of power is only available in "circuit mode," under which it's accompanied by a traction, grip and deceleration management system that actively adjusts to the road surface and performance demands. A Formula E-inspired suspension with torsion bars and springs connects the wheels to the carbon fiber chassis.
In standard road mode, the motors are capped at 540 hp (403 kW). There's also a fully autonomous mode that lets the driver hand the reins over to technology while enjoying the embrace of the passenger capsule.
DS has stripped the passenger cabin of the usual digital displays, instead using the glass of the canopy as a surface to show projected content. Or passengers can opt to watch the show of fast-moving ground through the electro-chromatic glass floor. The wooden dashboard is actually something of a speaker housing, developed in cooperation with Focal to work as a sound bar. A built-in coffeemaker serves up steaming beverages, and an air purification system fills the cabin with filtered, scented air.
The driver's side is much simpler, designed around the singular focus of spirited driving. The seat fits the driver like a glove and faces a steering wheel of wood, metal and leather. The seat is integrated into the greater structure of the car and positioned to keep center of gravity low.
With all that's going on between the doors of the X E-Tense, it's good to have a personal assistant named IRIS to help driver and passengers get the most out of it. The configurable, cloud-connected hologram can float between the passenger cocoon and driver cockpit to assist with the car's various features and functions.
More than just a weird concept car, the X E-Tense stands as a promise to keep a healthy focus on driving passion in the fast-changing automotive landscape.
"We have no intention whatsoever of being perceived as a mere purveyor of mobility and X E-Tense wasn't conceived for car sharing," promises Éric Apode, DS' senior VP of products and business development. "Our intention is to address those who are passionate about automobile culture and history, who are proud to own and cherish their car, who want to experience extreme sensations and feel a sense of luxury."
You'll have to take DS's word on interior design, as none of the pictures released with the announcement really dive in behind the doors. But you can see more of the out-of-box exterior styling in the equally out-of-box video clip below.
Source: DS Automobiles
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