DS 7 Crossback SUV - Engines, drive & performance
DS 7 Crossback diesel and petrol engines are decent, but the plug-in hybrid could be the one to go for if you can afford it
The DS 7 is the first luxury SUV from a French manufacturer and while it clearly needs to handle sharply enough to compete with rivals, DS has also made comfort a priority. To this end, most versions are fitted with Active Scan Suspension – a technology only seen before in models like the Mercedes S-Class luxury saloon. Cameras constantly monitor the road ahead, adjusting the stiffness of the suspension if you’re about to hit a pothole or bump.
It’s a clever system and for the most part the DS 7 does ride more comfortably than the Peugeot 3008 that shares the same basic underpinnings. It's not infallible, though, and doesn't seem to make a huge difference until you reach 40mph. Urban potholes can still unsettle the car if 19 or 20-inch wheels are fitted, too.
Of its four driving modes to choose from, the Active Scan only functions in Comfort mode. The other modes include Eco, Normal and Sport, altering the response of the engine, steering and suspension depending on which you choose, but none can give the DS 7 anything like the sharp reflexes of the BMW X3. The driving experience of the DS 7 is quite forgettable, and verges on disappointing if you’ve driven an X3 or a Jaguar E-Pace.
It's easy to drive, though – the steering is a little numb, but you can rely on its accuracy and it weights up progressively in corners. Body lean doesn’t get too exaggerated and the eight-speed automatic gearbox dispatches gears without too much fuss. It’s also fairly free from wind and tyre noise but the discontinued 2.0-litre diesel was quite noisy.
DS 7 Crossback diesel engines
The current DS 7 gets a 1.5-litre BlueHDi 130 engine with 128bhp but the older 2.0-litre BlueHDi 180 with 178bhp is worth considering too for used buyers. Both come with an eight-speed automatic, although a manual was previously available with the 130 engine. The BlueHDi 180 takes 9.4 seconds to get from 0-62mph; the surviving BlueHDI 130 manages the same feat in 10.7 seconds. That’s fine in a family hatchback, but doesn’t feel quick enough in a SUV with premium aspirations.
Choosing Sport mode also pumps an artificial engine sound through the speakers as you accelerate, which is a bit at odds with the car and can’t fully mask the somewhat strained sound of the diesel. Some customers in rural areas may also be surprised to find there’s currently no four-wheel-drive option besides the most expensive and most powerful plug-in hybrid.
The DS 7 is available with two petrol engines: at the start of the range, there's a 1.2-litre turbocharged engine with 128bhp. Above that is a powerful and very smooth 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol producing 178bhp. A version of this engine, making 222bhp, has been offered in the past. The 178bhp engine gets the DS 7 from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds, which reduces slightly to 8.3 seconds for the 222bhp one.
Like the top diesel, power is fed to an eight-speed automatic gearbox that supplies just the front wheels. The cheapest engine is available on all but the top trim levels, and it’s good to see that all trim levels can be ordered with a plug-in hybrid engine.
With close to 300bhp from its 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and dual electric motors, the DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4 300 is an unlikely performance car, doing 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds. In reality, the extra power of the hybrid helps the car stand toe-to-toe with upmarket German rivals, including the hybrid BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC.
A smooth eight-speed automatic transmission makes sure there's no problem smoothly overtaking slower traffic or powering on to a motorway. A more affordable 222bhp version with front-wheel drive is also available, and it's likely to be a sweet spot in the range, with enough performance for most SUV drivers. Its acceleration time matches the 178bhp petrol at 8.9 seconds.
The added weight of a battery pack isn't usually a positive attribute but here it does at least help settle the DS 7's suspension, which can be unsettled in the regular car.