It’s an interior that exhibits some lovely touches – pearl stitching, guillochage engraving – but it can feel overwrought; in some ways, the cleaner architecture of a generously specified Peugeot 3008 is more authentic. There are also some suspect plastics that you’d have to search harder to find in most rivals.
Given the way the 7 Crossback cossets it occupants, you might think that it’s short on space. In fact, the opposite is true; there is unusually generous space for those on the rear bench and 555 litres of load capacity with all the seats up.
Ultimately, however, there remain too many compromises for a relatively expensive car. The entirely digital, matte-finished instrument binnacle looks fabulous but isn’t easily legible, the seats are sumptuously appointed but under-bolstered and this diesel engine pulls smoothly but is too present too much of the time. Worst of all, removing the bulk of the switchgear may have led to a pleasing aesthetic, but the touch-sensitive substitutions too often seem either overly sensitive or not sensitive enough.
These things aren't what you’d call terminal – they’re fodder for the facelift – but it’s frustrating nonetheless and hard to forgive at this level.
Should I buy one?
In some ways, DS has an impossible task. Of such a storied marque we demand innovation and originality, and yet deviating too far from the norm in this segment must seem outrageously foolhardy to the brand’s product planners. Remember, though, that the Range Rover Evoque and more recently the Volvo XC40 have each pulled off the same-but-different trick – and done it well.
To its detriment, the French car is very much priced to rival those cars. In the specification you’d want – with the automatic gearbox and in Performance Line, which, unlike Elegance, includes active suspension, adaptive headlights, digital instruments and the 12.3in touchscreen – the 7 Crossback will cost you at least £35,000.
If it was especially rewarding to drive, that might not seem such a large sum, especially taken alongside the practicality on offer and an undoubtedly plush interior. As it stands, however, the 7 Crossback is difficult to recommend in a fiercely competitive class.
Price £36,335; Engine 1997cc, 4 cyls, turbo, diesel; Power 295bhp @ 3750rpm; Torque 221lb ft @ 2000rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1535kg; Top speed 134mph; 0-62mph 9.4 seconds; Economy 57.6mpg; CO2 128g/km; Rivals Audi Q3, Jaguar E-Pace, BMW X2