But now try to find the ‘engine start’ button; bet it takes you at least 30 seconds. The car’s digital instruments prioritise eye-catching style over easy legibility, and its infotainment system – while it’s impressive for screen size and display clarity – could be made a lot easier to navigate. The DS7’s interior would plainly rather have your attention, either for the right reasons or the wrong ones, than simply make your life easy.
Which is certainly not a charge you could level at the cabin of the quietly classy, cleverly spacious, intuitively laid-out, understated Tiguan.
And to drive? The Kuga’s handling is predictably keen and its body control atypically taut for a small SUV, but its steering has a disappointingly elastic feel to it and its powertrain is a touch noisy and clunky at times. It must fall first. Next to get swept away is the Q3, which has much better mechanical refinement than the Kuga but also a ride that doesn’t isolate its occupants from lumps and bumps too well (no doubt to do with those two-tone 20in alloys), and handling that doesn’t make a dynamic virtue of its compactness either.
The Tiguan comes closer than the DS7 Crossback to forcing its way into our final three shootout, since its driving experience shows the greater evidence of close developmental polish. Even though our test car was a manual, the Tiguan’s controls were more uniformly weighted, with more linear responses, than the DS7’s; it was an easier car to drive smoothly, and had better rolling refinement. The DS7’s steering lacked helpful weight in some of its driving modes, and both its ride and its automatic gearbox seemed a little bit short on sophistication.
Time to usher the also-rans to one side, then.
It’s an interesting SUV debut from DS, but if they would have worried a bit less about the ‘MyCashmere’ cabin ambience (whatever that is) and a bit more about the attention to detail of the driving experience, the DS7 might have survived to challenge the front runners.
As it is, best-of-the-rest billing goes to the Tiguan – a car that might not have missed the cut itself, I wouldn’t mind betting, in just the right engine, gearbox and optional suspension trim.
7th Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCI 180 Powershift AWD ST-Line X - Fussy looks, an uninviting cabin and a powertrain with rough edges. Chassis has some redeeming qualities
6th Audi Q3 2.0 TDI Quattro S tronic Black Edition - Impractical car with an interior that seems a decade old in places. Refined but bland to drive
5th DS7 Crossback BlueHDI 180 Automatic Performance Line - Plenty of space and quite lavish with it – though styling’s derivative in parts. Should be easier and smoother to drive