Fashionable French flair makes DS 7 Crossover stand out
DS Automobiles breaks out from Citroen’s shadow with its eye-catching DS 7 Crossback designed to stand out in the premium SUV sector. Motoring editor Andy Russell samples its quirky Gallic charm.
It’s four years since DS Automobiles became a standalone brand but it needed something special to break the Citroen link and make it stand out with its own identity.
Enter the flagship DS 7 Crossback – a family SUV full of French savoir faire, fashion and luxury – the first of a new generation of DS models.
Looks and image
The DS 7 is loaded with style, technology, gadgets and gizmos with diamond-based design cues and interior ‘inspirations’ themes named after Paris landmarks.
It’s another big-grilled SUV but DS’s French flair makes it stand out, just as the original DS did in 1955.
DS Active LED Vision, on all but entry model, has six lighting modes to adapt to conditions, and each headlight’s three jewel-like modules turn purple on unlocking before pivoting through 180 degrees – gimmicky but a joy to behold. The rear lights, made up of illuminated scales, are a work of art.
Under the bonnet
Initial powertrains are 225hp 1.6-litre turbo petrol automatic and 130hp 1.5-litre manual and 180hp 2.0-litre automatic turbo diesel. A 180hp turbo petrol arrives in June and further transmission combinations.
The new 1.5-litre BlueHDi is more refined than the bigger diesel and, while the manual shift cannot be rushed, I preferred it to the new eight-speed automatic’s smooth, but ponderous, low-speed shifts.
The smaller engine has adequate performance but the bigger one is the better bet if you regularly travel well loaded.
How it drives
The DS 7 is built for comfort and test-drive models had DS Active Scan Suspension. Available with the more powerful engines, on all but entry model, in comfort mode its uses a camera to check the road ahead and adjust the damping to each wheel for road conditions, speed, wheel angle and braking. It soaks up rough roads well but can feel soft and floaty at speed.
It corners competently but with more body roll than some rivals, but it’s never alarming, and the steering lacks feel. Better to take it easy and just enjoy the ride.
There’s no four-wheel drive but advanced traction control is optional. It also features driving aids to maintain distance, speed, keep in lane and self parking as the next step towards autonomous driving.
Space and comfort
Four six-foot plus passengers won’t moan about leg or headroom while stretching out in comfort in the spacious cabin’s supportive seats.
It hasn’t been at the expense of luggage space with a 555-litre boot and a twin-level floor panel, optional or standard depending on model. Rear seat backs split 60/40 and fold flat, flush with the floor panel in its raised sill-level slot, to give a 1,752-litre load bay.
At the wheel
Each trim has its own interior ‘inspiration’ – Elegance gets Bastille, Performance Line oddly is also Performance Line, Prestige is Rivoli and Ultra Prestige Opera – some rather fussy for my taste, especially when the diamond theme extends to seats, fascia and door panels.
The overall look is eye-catching, with smart toggle switches, also with a diamond theme, different trim finishes, a big touchscreen for most functions and, on the top two models, a BRM analogue clock which swivels from the fascia.
All but entry Elegance have two 12in screens for infotainment and digital instrument clusters, the latter can be filled with the sat-nav map or optional Night Vision to warn of pedestrians and animals in the dark up to 100m away and improves overall visibility ahead up to 300m but it’s not cheap at £1,100 to £1,600.
The distinctive DS 7 comes with lots of kit but, unfortunately, many desirable features are only on higher-spec models which go head-to-head on price with German and Swedish rivals likely to hold their value better. But, if you like to be different and buy with your heart, the DS 7 is a welcome alternative.
SPEC AND TECH
DS 7 CROSSBACK 1.5 BlueHDi 130
Engine: 1,499cc, 130hp, four-cylinder turbo diesel with six-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 10.8 seconds; top speed 121mph
MPG: Urban 61.4; extra urban 74.3; combined 68.9
CO2 emissions: 107g/km
DS 7 CROSSBACK 2.0 BlueHDi 180
Engine: 1,997cc, four-cylinder turbo diesel with eight-speed automatic
Performance: 0-62mph 9.4 seconds; top speed 134mph
MPG: Urban 50.4; extra urban 64.2; combined 57.6
CO2 emissions: 128g/km
Price: £28,050 to £43,535
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,570mm; W (including door mirrors) 1,895mm; H 1,625m