How Reliable are DS Cars? An Honest Assessment of the DS Brand

DS Cars struck out on their own in 2014, distancing themselves from other Citroen models. They’ve produced some very appealing cars since their independence, from the suave DS 4 Hatchback to the cute DS 3 city car.

But how reliable are they?  

As the luxury arm of Citroen, it’s easy to expect luxury-levels of reliability – DS Cars, after all, are aiming their models at BMW and Audi buyers. However, they’re still new, and still firmly related to the hit-and-miss Citroen brand.

OSV finds out how reliable DS cars are so that you can make a more informed buying decision.

How reliable are DS cars?

The Telegraph were pretty scathing when they reviewed the DS 4 in 2016, calling it the “worst car on sale.” However, one of its few shots of redemption was its reliability, with The Telegraph scoring it 7/7 on this front.

The thing is that DS cars are still fairly new, and haven’t yet featured in any reliability surveys. This makes their dependability hard to measure. However, because their cars are so mechanically similar to the Citroen models on which they are based, we can take a look at their French sibling to gauge how reliable DS cars are – just like the Telegraph did. In the 2017 J.D. Power dependability study, 148 problems per 100 Citroen vehicles were recorded. This is above the industry average of 131, and indeed Citroen were the sixth most unreliable car of 2017. Only Dacia, Fiat, Land Rover, Audi and BMW reported more problems per vehicles.

In CarBuyer’s 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, the Citroen C4 – which is almost mechanically identical to the DS 4 – came 139th out of 150. That compares unfavourably with one of its key rivals, the VW Golf, which came 27th. A year later in the same survey, Citroen were one of the worst performing brands, coming 26th out of 27, with 12.8% of buyers saying their car had at least one fault during the first year of ownership.

The problem isn’t necessarily just Citroen’s – French cars in general have historically been plagued with problems. In the 2017 J.D. Power dependability study, 138 problems per 100 Renault vehicles were recorded, which is also above the industry average.

Why are DS Cars unreliable?

That seems like an unfair question for a brand that’s in its infancy. The hope is that, because DS is still a new brand that hasn’t featured in any legit customer satisfaction surveys yet (simply because not enough DS owners are participating) they will eventually evolve and mature as a manufacturer that solves the unreliability issue.

Because of their newness, and the fact that the company is getting to grips with lots of new tech, there will naturally be some problems that DS needs to take the time to iron out. While some may argue that they are made the same way as the other Groupe PSA models, they are still a separate entity. The PSA CEO has even said that DS will distinguish itself from Citroen by using;

“Separate manufacturing and engineering standards”

However, we don’t think it will be long before these teething problems are solved, and there is nothing to say they won’t become more reliable in the future.  

Moreover, no significant issues have been widely reported with any DS models. There are glitches – such as the DS 3 Diesel suffering from filter blockage if not driven longer distances regularly – but this is a problem common to many modern diesels.

All you need to do is step inside a DS model – especially the latest DS 5 – to see that the materials of a high quality and everything feels solid and built to last. The fundamental question is whether the tech underneath holds out.

How reliable are consumer surveys?

Consumer surveys are meant to be a pretty accurate way of determining how reliable a car is. They ask those that are driving the models to rank their car for reliability. This means you get quite a good view of what the people who drive the car every day think of its dependability – in theory, at least.

Different survey methods often produce wildly varying results. For example, The Telegraph put Citroen 13th in their Reliability Survey in 2017, while in the same year Citroen were one of the worst performing brands in CarBuyer’s Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. Moreover, Consumer Reports have this to say on their website:

“Consumer Reports’ expert team of statisticians and automotive engineers used the survey data to predict reliability of new 2012 models. Predicted reliability is Consumer Reports’ forecast of how well models currently on sale are likely to hold up.”

This suggests that what Consumer Reports do is offer a prediction instead of an actual study.

Furthermore, when you take a look at a survey, you need to remember that car manufacturers are constantly responding to feedback and making tweaks. For example, it can be one thing to say that Citroen had a few faults with their cars in 2016, but what a survey won’t show you is that those same faults were amended that year.

DS Cars vs. Peugeot vs. Citroen; Which is more reliable?

All are owned by Groupe PSA, all are French, but all have different manufacturing and engineering standards, so which one is more reliable? The Telegraph put Citroen 13th in their Reliability Survey in 2017. The quirky French brand had a reported 115 problems per 100 vehicles. Reliability Index put the Citroen C1 as the 9th most reliable car to own, with a reliability index of just 15 (the lower the reliability index the better). They also put Citroen 20th for reliability with an overall index of 112, which is just above the industry average. Peugeot scored even better, however. They did considerably better in the Telegraph survey, coming 5th for reliability with just 92 problems per 100 vehicles. Their Partner Tepee came 15th on the Reliability Index table and the 107 came 18th, with reliability index scores of 20 and 21 respectively.

Peugeot also came 14th overall in the Reliability Index table with a reliability index of 96, which is above the industry average.

It’s safe to say that both Citroen and Peugeot are getting better and better where reliability is concerned. So far, DS owners have not reported many significant issues, and this bodes well, too.

At the moment, it’s harsh to compare the DS brand versus Peugeot. Peugeot is a brand that’s been around for years, and it’s a name that people trust. DS Cars, on the other hand, is still in its infancy, and because it hasn’t appeared in any customer satisfaction surveys, we have to look at Citroen’s performances in such surveys to determine its own likely reliability – and this seems like an unfair thing to do.

As the premium arm of Groupe PSA, DS are producing some solid cars at the moment. The DS 3 has an owners rating of 4.2 on CarBuyer (out of 133), and it’s also the top-rated DS or Citroen model in their latest Driver Power survey.

The conclusion?  DS are still a new brand that have a few minor problems – and they’re a brand to watch. Once the glitches are ironed out, DS cars could, in a few years time, produce some really reliable and very appealing vehicles. 

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