DS 7 Crossback SUV review
“The DS 7 Crossback is the first French luxury SUV, with suspension that looks out for bumps, and even night vision. It’s also economical and practical”
- Suspension that reads the road
- Affordable running costs
- Plentiful equipment
- Relatively unknown brand
- Top versions are expensive
- Some cheap-feeling materials
In the past, DS models were based on cars made by Citroen, but the DS 7 Crossback is at the head of a queue of new DS models that are exclusive to the brand. The DS 7 Crossback also has the honour of being the first French luxury SUV, plunging it into a market with a lot of established and popular rivals.
The compact premium SUV class is one of the most hotly contested in the car market. The DS 7 Crossback goes up against models including the Jaguar E-Pace, Volvo XC40, BMW X1, Audi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque.
DS is aiming to become an upmarket luxury brand, appealing to fashion and design-conscious buyers, and the DS 7 Crossback is a vitally important car in helping to establish the marque’s place in the market. So far, it has seemingly struggled to compete with its more well-known rivals.
Designers at DS have included many of the successful SUV styling features we’ve grown accustomed to, from a large front grille with chrome surround, to angular LED headlights and big, bold alloy wheels.
Seats are upholstered in upmarket fabrics like Alcantara and leather, and in top-spec models, the dashboard and door trims also get these luxurious finishes, too. A trick suspension system can sense upcoming bumps in the road ahead and adapt to keep the car as comfortable as possible, while a special acoustic windscreen maintains a feeling of serenity at high speeds.
The 178bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine has now been withdrawn but a more economical 128bhp 1.5-litre diesel is still available – it’s cheaper to buy and offers decent claimed fuel economy of up to 53.3mpg. It’s too slow for a luxury-focused model, though, and while the plug-in hybrid is a great alternative, it is rather more expensive to buy.
The petrol range starts with a 1.2-litre PureTech turbocharged engine with 128bhp and a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine with either 178bhp or 222bhp sits above that; the latter is the fastest non-hybrid DS 7 (0-62mph takes 8.3 seconds) and promises fuel consumption of 36.2mpg. The 222bhp engine is also no longer available, like the 178bhp diesel. All DS 7s come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
For company-car drivers especially, the E-Tense plug-in hybrid is a better option if your budget can stretch to the higher asking price. It’s available with either 222bhp or 297bhp, an all-electric range of up to 36 miles, and it's both faster and cheaper to run than petrol variants. It shares its powertrain with the plug-in hybrid Peugeot 3008 and Vauxhall Grandland.
On the road, the DS 7 feels stable and doesn’t suffer from too much body lean, but the steering is somewhat numb. It’s not as engaging as the Jaguar E-Pace, then, but it does have a trick up its sleeve in the form of Active Scan Suspension. Cameras monitor the road surface for bumps and adjust the suspension to try and soak them up, providing a plush ride. In practice it’s not perfect and works best at cruising speeds, but it gives the DS 7 Crossback’s ride quality an edge over the Peugeot 3008 with similar underpinnings.
Trim levels used to be called Elegance, Performance Line, Prestige and Ultra Prestige. However a recent update saw these changed to Performance Line, Performance Line+, Rivoli and Opera, plus a limited-edition Le Louvre that lets you see works of art from the museum on the car’s touchscreen. Performance Line models are well kitted out, with 19-inch alloys and a 12-inch touchscreen with DS Connected Nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto among the desirable list of features. The range-topping Opera model has 20-inch alloy wheels, a Nappa leather interior and DS Connected Pilot - a suite of semi-autonomous driver aids including Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Positioning Assist.
Until the DS 7 features in our annual Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, it's premature to judge it for reliability. Safety is more clear-cut, though – a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test result means it’s among the safest cars in the class.
Overall, the DS 7 appeals for its individual nature and interesting design, but can't beat rivals for comfort, driver appeal, technology or value. It's an interesting alternative to the premium SUV establishment, but hasn't taken the class by storm.