DS 7 SUV review
“France’s take on the luxury SUV does have its merits, but German rivals surpass it in almost every area”
- Avant-garde styling
- Low running costs
- Plenty of standard kit
- Wallowy handling
- Gutless diesel model
Verdict - Is the DS 7 a good car?
The DS 7 has been given a thorough makeover, and now feels more upmarket than ever. Its luxurious interior has a more characterful feel than most rivals and there’s enough space inside for most families. Engine options include a small diesel engine we think will appeal to private buyers, but doesn’t scream opulence, while the entry-level plug-in hybrid E-Tense 225 powertrain ticks the box for company car drivers. Stick with the Performance Line trim and the DS 7 makes a sensible alternative to German rivals.
DS 7 models, specs and alternatives
In the past, DS models were based on cars made by Citroen, but the DS 7 – previously called the DS 7 Crossback – was the first new DS model that was exclusive to the brand. The DS 7 also has the honour of being the first French luxury SUV, plunging it into a market with a lot of established and popular rivals.
DS is aiming to become an upmarket luxury brand, appealing to fashion and design-conscious buyers, and the DS 7 has been 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.
However, an update for 2022 seeks to remedy this with a refreshed exterior design – including some striking new LED running lights – as well as a host of mechanical upgrades intended to bring the French SUV in-line with its German rivals.
On the inside, the DS 7’s 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. To make the cabin as serene as possible, DS has fitted the car with a special acoustic windscreen which blocks out unwanted outside noise.
DS has slimmed the 7's engine range down to just three models: a diesel and three plug-in hybrids. The 1.5-litre diesel engine produces just 128bhp and is too slow for what is supposed to be a luxury-focused model – 0-62mph takes around eleven seconds. On a brighter note, the diesel DS 7 comes as standard with a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox and should be able to return well over 50mpg during normal driving.
If you can afford it or you’re a company car driver, the E-Tense plug-in hybrids are a much better choice. Buyers can choose from three versions: the front-wheel drive E-Tense 225, the all-wheel drive E-Tense 4x4 300 and the range-topping E-Tense 4x4 360. They all feel much punchier than the diesel thanks to the added power, with the 4x4 300 getting from 0-62mph in just 5.9 seconds. We think the E-Tense 225 should suit most buyers best, however.
The update for 2022 also introduced a larger battery for hybrid models, meaning the DS 7 E-Tense is now capable of travelling up to 43 miles on electric power alone.
The original Citroen DS was renowned for its sophisticated suspension technology; unfortunately, the DS 7 is not quite as successful in this department. It’s obvious the car has been set up for comfort, with all plug-in hybrid models getting what the brand has dubbed ‘Active Scan Suspension’. This is supposed to observe the road ahead and soften the dampers over bumps to improve comfort. Unfortunately, this added refinement doesn’t ever seem to materialise and the overly soft setup means the car tends to feel rather unsettled over even the smallest of bumps.
Trim levels used to be called Elegance, Performance Line, Prestige and Ultra Prestige. However, the recent update saw these changed to Performance Line, Performance Line+, Rivoli and Opera, plus a limited-edition ‘Louvre’ that lets you see works of art from the museum on the car’s touchscreen, which has now been replaced. 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 is yet to take the class by storm.
Which Is Best?
- Name1.5 BlueHDi Performance Line 5dr EAT8
- Gearbox typeSemi-auto
- Name1.6 E-TENSE Performance Line 5dr EAT8
- Gearbox typeSemi-auto
- Name1.6 E-TENSE 4X4 360 Perform Line + 5dr EAT8 [Pan]
- Gearbox typeSemi-auto