Most testers agreed that this new DS 7 Crossback is a handsome car – but, underneath some eye-catching window dressing, at least, it’s certainly not an original-looking one. You’d hope a brand that places so much importance on being different could have come up with a design that’s a bit more adventurous and mould-breaking than what amounts to a facsimile of an Audi Q5 after a change of war paint.
Designers may only have so much opportunity to innovate when creating boxy, practical SUVs and there are recognisable elements of the striking DS Divine concept car present here, particularly at the front. But for a car that’s supposed to truly establish DS as a standout brand in a busy market, there’s a bit too much that’s pedestrian and derivative about the way the new Crossback looks.
Size-wise, it sits towards the larger end of the compact SUV pack, measuring 4570mm in length. That makes it bigger than a Volkswagen Tiguan, Audi Q3, Seat Ateca and BMW X1 (which should bode well when it comes to the amount of space on offer in the cabin), and closer on overall length, in fact, to SUVs from the class above.
Peeling away that exterior reveals some familiar hardware. The DS 7 Crossback is based on PSA’s EMP2 architecture, which also underpins the Peugeot 3008 and 5008 and the Vauxhall Grandland X. In the case of our test car, power comes from a transversely mounted 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol four-pot. This develops 221bhp at 5500rpm and 221lb ft from 1900rpm.
All that is deployed to the road through an eight-speed automatic ’box and the front wheels. The DS 7 Crossback is due to be the first car on the EMP2 platform to get PSA’s new plug-in hybrid powertrain next year, but that will be the only version of the car with four-wheel drive.
While there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about the DS 7 Crossback’s suspension configuration – MacPherson struts up front, with a multi-link arrangement at the rear – DS has rolled out a new piece of tech that should pay dividends when it comes to the way it rides.
Called DS Active Scan suspension, this system uses a camera mounted behind the windscreen to analyse the road ahead up to a distance of 20 metres. Depending on the topography about to be crossed, this will firm up or slacken off the dampers to suit, theoretically keeping the car level and composed over any lumps or bumps. It isn’t standard fit on every DS 7 Crossback but our Prestige-trim test car was equipped with it.