A refined, relaxing, luxurious-feeling driving experience would have been quite distinguishing for the DS 7 Crossback in a compact SUV segment made up of an increasingly high proportion of cars marketed for their relative handling dynamism.

It’s what you might expect of a big, premium-branded French family car and it’s also what the DS 7’s Active Scan camera-linked suspension seems to promise that you might get.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The Active Scan suspension, which uses a camera mounted behind the windscreen and responds to the road ahead, didn’t improve ride comfort as much as expected

However, we should remember that DS Automobiles struggled to produce a distinguishing and laid-back ‘big French car’ dynamic vibe the last time it tried, with the DS 5. This time out, despite doing better than on that last occasion, it has faltered a little.

The ‘handshake’ of the DS 7’s driving experience – that impression it makes over the first 50 yards – is moderately promising. It steers with lightness but also fairly gentle gearing so the rack doesn’t feel too over-assisted, and those front driving wheels seem isolated but not discouragingly remote.

The DS 7 rides softly and with adequate comfort at low speeds. The car’s suspension conducts plenty of road noise into the cabin, however, and while it deals with bigger, softer-edged lumps and bumps well enough, it too often allowed the 19in wheels and 50-profile tyres of our test car to thump and crash a bit over sharper scars and imperfections.

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Given the technology they’re working through, the car’s adaptive dampers seem strangely ill-prepared for the rougher topography they’ll be asked to cope with in the UK, both around town and out of it. At this point, we should record, with some disappointment, that it’s only when you’ve selected the car’s Comfort driving mode that those dampers work in any ‘active’ capacity, using data from the forward-facing camera. Otherwise, the DS 7’s suspension reverts to either of a pair of adaptive control algorithms, depending on which driving mode you’ve selected using the car’s oversized tunnel-mounted toggle switch.

Sport mode firms up the car’s body control and steering a little, but not enough to cover for the overarching comfort tuning bias and to make it particularly composed or engaging to drive. Comfort mode suits the DS 7 better, without delivering the ride suppleness or isolation you’re hoping it might.

The presence of a Sport mode shouldn’t kid you into thinking this is a car that’s entirely at home with the idea of a more enthusiastic driving style.

The softer suspension set-up means it never really feels entirely settled or composed through the numerous crests and dips that lie along the Millbrook Hill Route, while the course’s many sharper corners further emphasise a sense of top-heaviness that other SUVs disguise more effectively.

While selecting the Crossback’s more aggressive driving mode does add some weight to the car’s steering rack, there’s no masking its relatively slow gearing. The action of turning into a bend therefore requires a touch more forethought and effort than you might otherwise like — and sticking to a fast, tight line is made tricky by a chassis that isn’t blessed with much outright grip.

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