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In-depth reviews

DS 7 SUV - Engines, drive & performance

The diesel DS 7 feels underpowered, but the more-expensive plug-in hybrid is a solid choice

Carbuyer Rating

4.0 out of 5

Owners Rating

2.7 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.0 out of 5

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 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.

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While this seems like a clever system on paper, the DS 7 is less refined out on the road than you might think. The overly soft suspension setup tends to make the car jiggle around over bumps, especially those at lower speeds. Things do improve when on the motorway, however, and opting for smaller alloy wheels does help the ride somewhat.

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.

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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, helped by an insulated windscreen.

Hybrid engines

The most affordable 222bhp plug-in hybrid with front-wheel drive is the sweet spot in the range, with enough performance for most SUV drivers. Its acceleration time matches the now-discontinued 178bhp petrol at 8.9 seconds. A smooth eight-speed automatic transmission makes sure there's no problem smoothly overtaking slower traffic or powering onto a motorway.

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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, accelerating from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds. This extra power of the hybrid helps the car stand toe-to-toe with upmarket German rivals, including the hybrid BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC. And there’s now an even faster E-Tense 4x4 360 version, with 355bhp for an even quicker 5.6-second sprint – although we wouldn’t recommend either of these options for most buyers.

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 rather fidgety in the diesel car.

DS 7 SUV 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.

Petrol engines

The DS 7 is no longer available with a traditional petrol engine. The range once consisted of a 1.2-litre turbocharged engine with 128bhp, alongside a more-powerful 1.6-litre turbocharged unit producing 178bhp. The latter feels punchy and smooth, and is a great choice for low-mileage used buyers. Like the diesels, power is fed to an eight-speed automatic gearbox that supplies just the front wheels.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.5 BlueHDi Performance Line + 5dr EAT8 [Pan Roof]
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £39,225

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.6 E-TENSE Performance Line + 5dr EAT8 [Pan Roof]
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £46,700

Fastest

  • Name
    1.6 E-TENSE 4X4 360 Perform Line + 5dr EAT8 [Pan]
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £55,795

Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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