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It was the source of transport for French president Emmanuel Macron's inauguration, but can the DS 7 Crossback stand out in a crowded compact SUV segment?

Our Verdict

Citroen CS7 Crossback 2018 front

New French luxury SUV looks derivative and lacks the completeness to easily justify its price. Despite that the DS7 Crossback is refined, fairly lavish and comes with some Gallic charm

31 January 2018

What is it?

This is the DS 7 Crossback – the almost inevitable assault by DS Automobiles on the compact SUV hierarchy.

You might have seen its global dynamic debut in the news, because it was via a bespoke DS7 Crossback that French president Emmanuel Macron made his way to the Champs-Élysées during his inauguration. We too have experienced this car before, but not on UK soil.

As a product of the luxury arm of PSA Group – comprising Peugeot and Citroën, along with DS itself – it’s aimed more squarely at the likes of the Range Rover Evoque, Jaguar E-Pace and Audi Q3, rather than your Nissan Qashqais, Seat Atecas and Renault Kadjars.

To help the 7 Crossback’s cause, DS has shoehorned in so many features that it’s difficult to know where to start. Alongside semi-autonomous driving programs, night-vision and aesthetic elements intended to capture French ‘savoir faire’ both inside and out, the 7 Crossback is also the first among its peers to use active suspension. The broad idea is that you’ll be tempted away from more established rivals by the car’s fresh take on combining old-school luxury with the latest technology.

Alas, for all the Breguet-inspired detailing and swivel-eyed LED headlights, this is a familiar product that's built on the same modular platform as the Peugeot 3008 and offers front-wheel drive with a choice of PSA’s existing turbocharged diesel and petrol engines.

Furthermore, the assertion that the 7 Crossback possesses a ‘unique personality’ lasts only as long as it takes to realise its general proportions, and particularly its deadpan front-end styling, closely mimic the Audi mentioned earlier. Is it handsome? In a square-jawed fashion, perhaps, but it relies heavily on jewellery in the form of three-dimensional LED lights and plenty of chrome – or gloss-black if you go for mid-ranking Performance Line trim.

In terms of hardware, an Aisin-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox is your only choice if you want the 222bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine or the 178bhp 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesel. There’s also a six-speed manual available for the 128bhp 1.5-litre diesel, and, during 2019, a 300bhp plug-in hybrid with four-wheel drive and an asking price of around £50,000 will arrive.

What's it like?

Given this is a car bearing a DS badge, we should first address ride quality, which is in general very good. Lateral body movements are nicely controlled and a sense of stability and competency pervades, but at the expense of agility (an attribute hardly helped by the oddly heavy steering).

Active suspension comes as standard (apart from the entry-level Elegance model) and isn’t as radical as the hydropneumatic technology not quite pioneered by the original DS of 1955. But it does work – superbly at times. It’s a predictive set-up with a road-scanning camera. Its lens is tucked behind the rear-view mirror and, along with various sensors and accelerometers, it feeds the ECU with data, allowing it to prepare the adaptive dampers for troublesome topography with as little as five metres warning.

Operational only in Comfort mode, it has a tendency to make the 7 Crossback feel under-damped on undulating roads but most of the time removes passengers from the road really rather neatly, both acoustically and physically. It’s certainly an option worth having.

The other prong of the DS attack is the luxury of its interior, which can be trimmed in either Alcantara or nappa leather depending on spec level and boasts a high, wide transmission tunnel and a deep curvature linking the doors to the bulkhead. A 12.3in touchscreen is standard on all but the lowest trim level and there are oversized toggle switches flanking the gearlever.

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

 

Join the debate

Comments
20

31 January 2018

As I said in a previous autocar review there's just too many reasons not to take the plunge and buy the DS7.

£50,000 before you get 4wd, bad or limited manual/engine combinations, tiny tiny touch screen buttons for the heating etc, and worst of all in this spec it’s £36,000 a XC40 or Q3 with some bling will probably be LESS!

On the plus side you do adaptive suspension.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

1 February 2018
PSA developed a quite good AWD system used all those years ago on the Peugeot 405 and it's sister car the Citroen BX. Of course the BX also came with proper hydropneumatic suspension. It beggars belief that they dropped all that tooling and engineering expertise for AWD and now can't use it on their own SUV. This, from the same company that brought us the faux-AWD Matra-Simca Rancho. Could they really be that stupid? Apparently so, yes they can. How can you have an Evoque competitor without it?

31 January 2018

I do like the stylin' over the usual German alternatives.  But that centre screen! Definately a case of the marketing department deciding a larger screen was needed AFTER they'd committed to the vehicle tooling!

 

 

 

31 January 2018
...to come up with a rubbish car, these days, but it seems that DS (or whatever they're called) have managed to pull it off.

Congratulations to all involved.

31 January 2018

Citroen cannot keep insulting the DS badge with these tarted up cars.

Please make a proper stylish, elegant, sumptous DS again Citroen and stop trying to be something you are not.

Get back to proper Citroen roots and make cars that are fun, smooth, comfortable and unique.

Steam cars are due a revival.

31 January 2018

Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Strip out all the crap, laser cannons, Knightrider vision, twinklies and on and on, being French its stuff that is only going to break anyway and destroys residual ratio. Just make a normal comfy car with the hybrid 4wd powertrain and get it on sale @ £35K and they will fly out the showroom. This is dead in the water before it gets off the transporter.

31 January 2018

Poor DS and PSA, I think we all know how this is going to go. They would have been better keeping DS as more stylish expensive Citroens and putting good design at the heart of things.

31 January 2018

Please PSA, if you aint gonna give us proper, innovative Citroens, put the marque (and its ridiculous spin-off brand DS) out of its misery and kill it(them), I cant bear to see the badge(s) ruined with the 20+ years of crap youve been churning out with them on.

XXXX just went POP.

31 January 2018

Difficult to belive that is the same company that produced the Traction Avant the DS/ID 2CV,GS,SM,CX & XM all cars that were years ahead of their time. What this is is a cynical marketing ploy to satisfy a transient craze for fake SUV's,sitting on a standard PSA platform. Not likely to be remembered as fondly as it's illustrious predecessors. 

31 January 2018
ianp55 wrote:

Difficult to belive that is the same company that produced the Traction Avant the DS/ID 2CV,GS,SM,CX & XM all cars that were years ahead of their time. What this is is a cynical marketing ploy to satisfy a transient craze for fake SUV's,sitting on a standard PSA platform. Not likely to be remembered as fondly as it's illustrious predecessors. 

 

Very true, very disappointingly so.

Citroëniste.

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