From £28,0956
New petrol engine and top-end Ultra Prestige spec help broaden the Crossback's appeal, but do little to help it stand out in a crowded market

What is it?

This is the first petrol-powered variant of DS Automobile’s ‘avant-garde’ 7 Crossback; the first all-new car to be launched under the flagship brand since it split from Citroën in 2014.

While we’re already well acquainted with its oil-burning sibling, which participated in our compact SUV mega test earlier this year, this is the first time we’ve had a go in the petrol-engined model.

Under the bonnet you’ll find PSA Group’s familiar 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder motor, which in this application produces 222bhp and 221lb ft, all of which is sent to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Later this year, a lesser 178bhp version of the same engine will also be made available.

The 222bhp petrol engine is available on all trim levels apart from the entry-level Elegance model. Prices for variants equipped with this engine start at £34,990 for the Performance Line model and rise to £43,190 for our top-of-the-range Ultra Prestige test car.

The latter is a fairly significant sum, but standard equipment is generous, with 20in alloys, a Focal premium hi-fi system, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, full leather upholstery and much more besides all included in the asking price.

Power plant aside, it’s all DS 7 Crossback business as usual. The exterior styling that - to this tester’s eyes, at least - is reminiscent of Audi’s Q-cars remains, as does the active suspension and plush interior.

What's it like?

On the whole, the new power plant suits the laid-back, cruisy character of the DS 7 Crossback well. Acceleration is smooth, though not particularly hurried, while the engine note is largely refined - until you stray above 4000rpm or so, at which point it does become fairly loud and intrusive.

However, as its 221lb ft is available from just 1900rpm, the occasions on which you’re required to really rev the engine out are limited mostly to overtaking manouvres and motorway slip-roads. Once you’re up to speed though, it returns to its default hushed setting.

The eight-speed transmission is for the most part smooth, although sudden throttle inputs can give way to a bit of shunt, particularly at low speeds. Fixed paddleshifters are mounted on the steering column and allow for manual gear changes; helpful when you’re travelling downhill and need to engine brake, although it’s unlikely you’d use them at any other time. The DS 7 just doesn’t feel as though it’s been set up to compliment a more enthusiastic driving style.

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That’s okay, though. It’s focus has always been more on comfort than outright dynamism, and as with the diesel-powered versions it fulfills this brief nicely. The ride is soft and cosseting - perhaps feeling slightly under-damped at times - but for the most part it irons out imperfections in the road surface nicely.

This is largely down to its active suspension, which, when set to ‘Comfort’ mode, uses a camera to analyse the road ahead and prep the dampers accordingly. While there is a degree of lateral roll through bends, as well as vertical travel over undulations, the DS 7 never feels particularly out of line or unbalanced, but it’s spongy nature will dissuade you from really hustling it along.

The steering rack, meanwhile, is relatively slow in its gearing - three turns lock-to-lock - but is precise enough, if lacking in feel.

As for the interior, it maintains its slightly odd blend of luxurious and not-so-luxurious materials, with attractive leather-upholstered and engraved surfaces contrasting against easy-to-find scratchy plastics. The seats are particularly notable for their sumptuousness, although they would benefit from a greater level of bolstering and vertical adjustability. You sit perched a touch too high even in their lowest setting.

Isolation is excellent, though; in our test car there was minimal wind noise, and the 20in alloys generated only a tiny amount of road roar. This may have been a product of the incredibly smooth roads that made up our French test route, though.

Cabin space, meanwhile, is impressive. Those sitting in the rear will find a comfortable amount of leg and headroom, while the DS 7’s generously sized 555-litre boot is easily accessible thanks to a large opening and negligible load lip. By comparison, the Volvo XC40 - our current class leader - offers 432 litres of boot space.

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Should I buy one?

The petrol-powered DS 7 Crossback certainly has its merits. The powertrain is smooth and mostly refined and with a claimed fuel consumption figure of 47.9mpg it’s economy is commendable, too. With CO2 emissions of 135g/km it also qualifies for a lower benefit-in-kind rating than the 178bhp diesel variant, standing at 26% as opposed to the oil-burner’s 27%.

However, in flagship Ultra Prestige trim, residuals forecasts aren’t promising, with our experts expecting the DS 7 Crossback to retain just 42% of its value after 36,000 miles and 36 months of ownership. A fully-loaded Volvo XC40 T5 in Inscription Pro specification will not only hold 53% over the same period, but is nearly £5000 cheaper in the first place. That the Volvo is more dynamically rewarding, not to mention a more well-rounded package, only serves as an added bonus.

So while the introduction of a petrol engine to the DS 7 Crossback line-up has had the effect of broadening its appeal, it hasn’t done so in a way that’s radical enough to make it the stand-out option in an already crowded market segment.

DS 7 Crossback PureTech 225 Ultra Prestige

Where France Price £43,190 On sale now Engine 1598cc, 4 cyls, turbo, petrol Power 222bhp at 5500rpm Torque 221lb ft at 1900rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 1425kg Top speed 141mph 0-62mph 8.3sec Fuel economy 47.9mpg CO2, tax band 135g/km, 26% Rivals Audi Q3, Jaguar E-Pace, Volvo XC40

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rdsreference 26 August 2018

Gambling

If you're interested in gambling with PSA,s money this is definitely one that'll fall at the first hurdle. Whoever decided this was a good idea certainly wouldn't be on my board of directors. They offer an awful lot for the money but it's not enough when you're competing with the established premiums, those conquest sales will be few for Citroen and cars will have to be heavily discounted a thing that Citroen were renowned for. PSA are very aware of this fact because this has been mentioned publicly by Carlos Tavarez. I really can't see this arm being profitable. Sub Brand? Na.
Yes,I do admire the idea but maybe we're all losing sight of why the DS7 exists. China.
rdsreference 28 May 2018

AN ACCIDENT

This car is doomed to fail at least in Europe. It probably has a future in China but I cant see for the life of me how this car can make a case for itself. It going head to head with established players who have more prestige, credibility, and residuals all in their favor. If the DS7 has any chance it would have to be cheap and loaded with toys. It would be interesting to see the feasibility survey conducted by PSA on this SUV. I could only surmise that it was a case of "Let's make a Bold looking SUV"  Sure all anybody wants these days is an SUV. You still have to admire Citroen for making it though. 

rdsreference 28 May 2018

AN ACCIDENT

This car is doomed to fail at least in Europe. It probably has a future in China but I cant see for the life of me how this car can make a case for itself. It going head to head with established players who have more prestige, credibility, and residuals all in their favor. If the DS7 has any chance it would have to be cheap and loaded with toys. It would be interesting to see the feasibility survey conducted by PSA on this SUV. I could only surmise that it was a case of "Let's make a Bold looking SUV"  Sure all anybody wants these days is an SUV. You still have to admire Citroen for making it though.