One car does not make a car company, but the buzz at the launch of the new DS 7 Crossback today was palpable. This is a company that has spent the past two years planning and is now – finally – rolling out the first fruits of its labours, which will be followed by five more all-new cars over the next five years.

The first results are fascinating. The exterior of the 7 Crossback strikes me as too conservative for a brand selling itself as avant-garde, but it is in keeping with where the fulcrum of the market, the Audi Q5, sits. It’s unlikely to offend, at least, and it provides a decent canvas for some of the technological highlights, such as the stunningly complex and captivating front and rear light graphics, and the striking grille design.

In contrast, the interior is mostly a tour de force to my eyes, albeit one with so many layers of difference from ‘normal’ that it takes quite some getting used to. The materials, fit and finish ooze premium quality; the use of woods and other fabrics is truly innovative; and some of the switchgear is wilfully challenging to eyes used to Germanic order and all the better for it. The pop-up digital clock, designed by French luxury watch maker BRM with an analogue face, was less convincing, but I’m no connoisseur of timepieces.