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New French luxury SUV looks derivative but is refined and fairly lavish. It's appealing in its way but lacks the completeness to easily justify its price
  • First Drive

    DS 7 Crossback 2018 review

    New French luxury SUV looks derivative but is refined and fairly lavish. It's appealing in its way but lacks the completeness to easily justify its price

What is it?

The DS 7 Crossback signals an apparent change in philosophy for the PSA Group’s fledgling luxury brand.

This is a car that’s ‘avant-garde’ in some of its details and features only. Otherwise, it’s a fundamentally – almost tediously – familiar sort of offering: yet another upmarket compact SUV among the rash of them introduced over the last couple of years seemingly by every European car maker with ambitions of growth. As such, this upmarket SUV, and the shift in thinking it represents, could prove to be the making or the undoing of DS Automobiles.

If things go well, of course, the 7 Crossback will be the Jaguar E-Pace-rival that will spearhead its maker’s transformation from relative obscurity to established global market success. Having tested the water with a couple of genuinely interesting, if troubled, introductions that have largely fallen on deaf wallets so far this decade (think the 5 and 4 Crossback), DS appears to have concluded that its customers don’t actually want innovative cars at all; rather, largely conventional ones with some innovative features, made with just a dash of identifying flourish.

As much as fans of a varied car market may regret it, that's what the new 7 Crossback amounts to. It’s a car which, you couldn’t fail to conclude, owes far too great a debt to the styling of Audi’s smaller Q-badged models to be considered original, but one which does have plenty of remarkable technological and material lures about it and does rolling refinement and material richness as well as any big French car of the last decade.

What's it like?

Built in the same factory as the Peugeot 3008 and on the same EMP2 model platform, the 7 Crossback is a front-wheel-drive SUV available with a choice of 1.5 and 2.0-litre diesel engines or a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol. A range-topping petrol-electric plug-in hybrid version with 296bhp and four-wheel drive will join the range in 2019.

But it’s what’s in the 7 Crossback's cabin, and what’s going on inside its wheel arches, that DS makes its boldest claims about. Designed with more style than that of any existing compact premium-branded SUV and appointed with greater lavishness than most, the car's interior can come upholstered in nappa leather or Alcantara depending on trim level, and with massager seats and colour-adjustable ambient lighting. Adaptive LED headlights are standard on all but the entry-level model, a night vision camera is an option and a full suite of active safety systems is available.

DS’s big push is clearly to give this car a distinguishing, tech-rich kind of luxury appeal. It’s an effort crowned by a segment-first active suspension system (standard on high-end trim levels and optional elsewhere) that combines a forward-facing camera with adaptive dampers to perfectly adjust the car’s suspension for the road surface it’s about to cover.

This DS Active Scan Suspension system is only truly active when you’re in the car’s Comfort driving mode, and it was much more effective on the test cars we drove when combined with 19in, rather than 20in, alloy wheels. But at its best, it gives the 7 Crossback a particularly supple and absorptive ride that’s also quiet.

The 7 Crossback handles very competently, too, even in Comfort mode, with decent grip, steering precision and lateral body control.

Our BlueHDI 180 diesel test car’s engine is fairly muted and torquey at low and middling revs, becoming more loud and coarse above 3500rpm. Its transmission works quite well in laid-back mode, but less well – and with the odd hint of shunt – when hurried. The performance level is more than adequate but won’t be a selling point.

The interior, meanwhile, is one of the car's highlights and one of its low points. Where DS has put effort in – with the attractively stitched leathers, decorative switchgear and 12in widescreen colour infotainment system, for example – the 7 Crossback begins to justify the prices that are asked for it. But there are too many ordinary-looking and feeling mouldings used in places to see that process through.

Likewise, there are too many frustrations in the operating capacities of the driver assistance systems; too baffling an array of digital instrumentation layouts, most of them plainly preferring contrived style to legibility; and too slight a sense of spaciousness in the front seats.

We tested out many of the advanced driver assistance systems that DS uses to distinguish the 7 Crossback from its competitors but weren’t particularly impressed with any of them. The car’s ‘piloted’ lane-keeping assist system is unhelpfully fussy about keeping the car dead-centre in its lane; its adaptive cruise control offers no option to automatically adjust your cruising speed as posted limits change (whereas others do) and won’t automatically stop short of undertaking traffic in an outside lane (where others will); and the graphical resolution of the various parking and night vision cameras can be surprisingly poor.

In the 7 Crossback’s defence, it offers better second-row passenger space than many of its opponents, and boot space is a useful 555 litres. But anyone paying a premium-level price has a right to expect much more from the interior than that, and better seating comfort than the slightly flat and hard-cushioned front seats provide.

Should I buy one?

It’s been a very busy year for the new cars like this, and our first impression is that there are probably now several more consistently classy, premium-worthy small SUVs among the 2017 crop than this, as well as more attractively priced leftfield alternatives to the obvious German picks.

The 7 Crossback’s fresh take on modern metropolitan SUV luxury is appealing in its way, but its scope of originality is disappointingly limited, and it remains to be seen how many customers will be willing to stump up Range Rover Evoque-level cash in return for it.

You sense the DS brand’s search for its lasting identity and proper place in the modern car market won’t end here. 

DS7 Crossback BlueHDI 180 auto

Where Paris, France On sale March 2018 Price from £36,355 Engine 4cyls inline, 1997cc, turbodiesel Power 178bhp at 3750rpm Torque 295lb ft at 2000rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerbweight 1535kg Top speed 134mph 0-62mph 9.9sec Fuel economy 57.6mpg CO2 rating 128g/km Rivals BMW X1 20d, Jaguar E-Pace D180

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Comments
16

6 December 2017

This needed to do a bit better really as the DS3, 4 and 5 are now falling the rivals and are certainly knocking on a bit, no replacement in sight either. On the plus side it does look nice inside from the drivers point of view.

Citroen might rue the day they set this off-shoot up.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

6 December 2017

the DS7 starts at £28k not the £36 as stated in the review, £36k is for the top of the range version, however even the entry level is very well equipped as standard. 

6 December 2017

That pulls a face just like that ridiculous grille...

Steam cars are due a revival.

6 December 2017

What a great looking car - the negativity for this car starts straight away with the article is written from the beginning. 

I cant see any Audi Q styling in this at all and looks far nicer than any Q Audi on sale.

The interior looks great as well, for comparison a £36k VW Tiguan comes with completely solid plastic on the rear doors of the scratchiest plastic but you never see that mentioned..

Doomed from the start because of the badge it wears! 

6 December 2017

This thrashes the smaller E-Pace for value and emissions, and hence tax bill. Its sized between the E-Pace and the F-Pace but AC don't want to go near comparing it to that (no surprise!) When the Hybrid comes along it will be epic. I wish they had spent less time on gadgets to be honest and more on getting the powertrains on sale.

6 December 2017

You can ladle as much tech on top as you want - it's still a creaking mid-market hatchback underneath. Premium? Don't think so.

6 December 2017

Comfortable, roomy, gadget-laden. And a bargain at £36,000, when you look at other SUVs. So why only 3 stars? Well, when was the last time you saw a PSA advert in Autocar? That says it all!

6 December 2017

Not surprising is it,if you were in charge of PSA marketing would you waste your advertising budget on a publication that lavishes praise on BMW/Mercedes/VAG products regardless of their merit. 

 

6 December 2017
From £36k?

Just not true.

From £28k.

Autocar is particularly bad attend how it relays prices.

6 December 2017

don't you get bored of saying the same thing? this is built on emp2, launched in 2013 (vw MQB launched in 2012), uses high-strength steels, aluminum and magnesium alloys, and composites. it isn't a paugoet 206. have you actually looked at how much of the car it comprises? it's the floorpan, front bulkhead, front&rear crash structure, that's it. there's still a lot of car to design.

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