While DS has been back in business for a few years now the DS 7 Crossback is the first machine that has been designed from the ground up to represent what the company stands for – charismatic design, French luxury and advanced technology. It might look pretty similar to a horde of other smaller SUVs but DS is hoping it has enough bespoke design cues to draw customers away from rivals such as BMW’s X1, Audi’s Q3, the Volvo XC40 and the Range Rover Evoque.
While DS says it designed the car very much with that set of competitors in mind it’s worth noting that it’s a little larger than most of them, certainly in terms of rear seat accommodation and boot capacity, so it starts out on a good footing when trying to appeal to family buyers. All but the entry-level models pack quite a high level of specification and have enough showroom appeal with their luxurious interiors to potentially steal customers from the more established brands.
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However, if those potential buyers have even a modicum of driver involvement in mind from their SUV they may well be disappointed with the DS 7 Crossback. Yes, it has a comfortable ride but the engines aren’t desperately inspiring and their performance isn’t on a par with the majority of their rivals. There’s not much reward to be had from trying to hustle one along a back road as it’s just rather dull from a driver’s perspective. A more powerful PHEV model with four-wheel drive and a claimed 300bhp is coming in 2019 but it’ll need to have a thoroughly revised chassis if it’s to endow the DS 7 with an enthralling driving experience.
In the meantime, those after a small sporty (ish) SUV should look elsewhere.
DS7 Crossback in detail
> Performance and 0-60 time – DS 7 Crossback acceleration figures won’t set the world on fire and lag behind rivals with the 2-litre diesel’s nigh-on 10-second 0-62mph time looking tardy these days.
> Engine and gearbox – Three engines are offered, two diesels and one petrol with outputs ranging from 128bhp to 222bhp. Transmissions are a six-speed manual or a new eight-speed auto for the 180 and 225 models.
> Ride and handling – Clever Active Scan suspension endows DS7 with a decent ride in Comfort mode. Driving modes frustratingly do not offer the option of personalizing them.
> MPG and running costs – Smaller-engined diesel promises nigh-on 70mpg while more powerful models are said to do high-50s.
> Interior and tech – Style and luxury are the watchwords for the DS7’s interior and it certainly comes with plenty of Gallic flair. Lots of gadgets and gizmos to play with, and plenty of space, too.
> Design – The DS7 tries to stand out from its rivals with some neat detailing like the LED rear light clusters and the jewel-like rotating headlights.
Prices, specs and rivals
DS is pitching the DS 7 Crossback into a very crowded SUV marketplace and says it sees the BMW X1, Audi Q3, Volvo XC40, Jaguar E-Pace and Range Rover Evoque as key rivals. But can the DS 7 hope to compete with these established premium players?
The initial launch line up comprises two diesels, BlueHDi 130 (manual only) and BlueHDi180 (auto only) and one petrol, the PureTech 225 (again, auto only). Three trim levels are offered, Elegance (BlueHDi 130 only), Performance Line and Prestige (all three engines) and Ultra Prestige (180 and 225 only). Prices start at a palatable £28,050 for the Elegance and rise to a pretty stratospheric £43k for the two Ultra Prestige models. Yes, you do get a lot of kit for your money with these latter two, but when a BMW X1 20d xLine costs £35k, the DS 7 looks rather expensive. The BMW’s significantly quicker too, even if it doesn’t have quite so much standard equipment.
In terms of equipment Elegance comes with cloth seats, 18-inch alloys, cruise control, lane departure warning and two-zone air con while Performance Line models gain 19s, an Alcantara-clad interior, Active Scan suspension (180 and 225 only), LED headlights and a navigation system. The two top end models really are very well kitted out and just about the only option of note that can be fitted to the Ultra Prestige model is Night Vision.
The compact SUV market is tough though and while the DS might not have the established players licked for driver appeal it does offer an alternative to them with its Gallic style, luxury bent and quirky appeal.