DS 7 Crossback 2.0 BlueHDi 2018 Road Test

You could never accuse the DS 7 Crossback of lacking in ambition. This new SUV is aiming to compete with the likes of the Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Lexus and Mercedes. That’s to say nothing of rivals from Ford, Honda, Mazda, Volvo and many more. So, what makes DS Automobiles think its car stands out?

There are certainly plenty of details to take in, such as the diamond pattern theme that runs throughout and is used on the grille, side badges and even the rear lights. However, take these away and the DS 7’s shape and styling are somewhat derivative, even if all but the base model comes with a high level of techy kit.

Step over the entry-point Elegance version and the DS 7 comes with Active LED Vision. This uses three rotating LED lights that swivel as they’re turned on as a nod to later generations of the DS saloon from the 1960s. It provides five separate lighting patterns depending on the driving conditions to give the best spread of light possible and assist with vision. In the cars we tried, it works well, but the auto dimming from main beam was too sluggish and resulted in being flashed by oncoming cars several times.

The other big ticket item of technical equipment is DS Active Scan Suspension that’s standard with models fitted with the 180PS 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine. It uses a number of sensors to read the road ahead, as well as gauging speed, steering inputs and braking. The result is each wheel can react independently to the surface conditions to give the best possible ride when the system is in Comfort mode.

DS 7 Crossback (4)

That’s the theory and in practice the DS7 deals with most roads in a controlled, supple manner. At higher speeds, though, there was some patter from the suspension in the car’s we tried, which can partly be attributed to 20-inch wheels. However, in the Normal setting, the suspension felt more composed, which brings into question the need for this scanning system that’s a first for a car in this class.

The variable drive modes also have a bearing on the DS7’s steering feel if you choose the 225PS 1.6-litre turbo petrol model. Select the Sport option in this car and the steering takes on a weight that’s akin to turning the release on a rusty submarine’s escape hatch. It’s way to hefty and spoils a car that’s otherwise competent and able along twisty roads.

Staying with the petrol engine, it’s the quickest of the bunch at launch. However, 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds hardly warrants a postcard to the folks back home. It comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard that works its way through the ratios smoothly and the motor is generally refined. Combined fuel economy of 47.9mpg is decent too, while company drivers will be more interested in the 135g/km CO2 figure.

Of the three engines available at launch, DS reckons most buyers will choose the 180PS 2.0-litre BlueHDi. It deals with 0-62mph in a perfunctory 9.9 seconds and shares the same eight-speed auto as the petrol. Go easy and the offiial combined consumption is 57.6mpg.

It’s not the most refined engine, unfortunately, as there’s always an awareness of its diesel fuelling. Press harder on the throttle and that becomes all too obvious compared to the best in class. Also, in Sport mode, it makes a tuneless artificial drone in an attempt to convince you of its athletic ability. In a car trying to emphasise its luxury credentials, it’s at odds with the overall feel of the DS7.

DS 7 Crossback (3)

The other engine option is a 1.5-litre BlueHDi with 130PS which averages a claimed 68.9mpg.In time, there will be other choices, including a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid with 300PS and all-wheel drive.

Inside, there’s plenty of space for the driver and front and rear passengers. Even with the panoramic sunroof fitted, there is ample rear headroom. The only downside is the centre seat in the back is narrower and thinly padded, so it’s not made for long distance comfort. As for the boot, it’s on a par with the class best and the 60/40 split rear seats are easy to fold.

The base model does without the 12.3-inch colour dash display that’s worth paying the extra for. The diamond-shaped dials you’re presented with are a bit contrived, but it’s easy to scroll through different functions on-screen using the steering wheel buttons. This display can also be used with the optional Night Vision Pack that picks out hazards and alerts the driver with visible and audible warnings if it senses imminent danger.

The central 12-inch touchscreen that’s standard on every version except the Elegance is less impressive. As with other Citroen and Peugeot models that use this set-up, its onscreen buttons are a fraction slow to react to the driver’s finger and you have to switch between menus when all you want to do is adjust the heating. Compared to a Mazda CX-5, it’s too fussy, and some of the interior detailing also strays into chintzy excess.

In a class that includes so many stylish and effortlessly cool cars, this is where the DS7 comes up short. In every area, it’s trying just a little too hard to deliver the Gallic otherworldliness that made the original DS a superstar. While there’s much to like about the DS7, there’s more to admire in its key rivals.

The DS 7 Crossback is on sale in the UK from mid-February 2018.

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