Road test: DS drives desire for exclusivity with new SUV

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The DS 7 Crossback


It may be no coincidence that there’s a touch of Lexus about the new DS 7 Crossback.

You could certainly mistake it for one with its gaping grille and glitzy touches. And now DS
Automobiles, as the marque has become, is taking the exclusivity a stage further with the Lexus approach to marketing.

Being a Citroen dealer (Citroen is the parent brand from which DS has been split) will no longer automatically make you a DS dealer. From July, there will be 30 DS outlets in the UK, rising to about 60 in the autumn and maybe a few more next year – the network culminates in DS World in the heart of the Paris fashion district.

The brand is all about letting people know you’ve arrived.

So what a coup for DS when Emanuel Macron, for his first outing as French president last summer, chose to poke his upper half through the sunroof of a specially adapted DS 7 and cruise the streets of Paris.

The DS 7 Crossback is quite possibly worth all the hype. It’s a much-needed refresh for a tiring brand and certainly a stylish way to get about although you won’t want to off road it, despite the SUV tag.

Putting on your glad rags is almost de rigueur if you want to feel at home in the car, and enveloped by a luxurious home is definitely where you feel in seats upholstered with Nappa leather that offer multiple ways of massaging yourself on a trip.

There are various different levels of opulence and our car brought a touch of the sophisticated to the Hardy household with its Opera badging. Not that we suddenly got the urge to dash to Covent Garden, although if we had it would have been a very comfortable way to get there.

Instead we were possibly a little more downmarket, depending on your tastes, because we went with friends Maggie and Bob to see a group called Flats and Sharps who produce a perfect blend of bluegrass, folk, and country music. We wafted in luxury just a few miles to our local theatre; they had come hundreds of miles by van from Penzance so we literally got all the pleasure from the event.

Maggie and Bob bought Citroens for years and were impressed by the DS 7. It was a cold night though and they did discover one of the drawbacks; the stylish metal switches for controls such as the windows are difficult to find in the dark and that also meant they failed to notice the controls for the heated rear seats that would have been the final warming touch to the trip home.

Like many modern SUVs, the DS 7 is actually all about interior space rather than heading off into the wilds. With the raised hip height seating, making the car much easier to use, and great view out it’s actually quite liberating and you can see why cars like this have become so popular. Half the cars supplied by Motability, the charity scheme that keeps disabled people on the move, are SUVs which speaks volumes for their advantages.

One of the most obvious things about the car is the reliance on diamond motifs to bring a bit of glitz – they seem to be just about everywhere, even influencing the instrument screen when you call up functions. The instruments themselves are also arranged as angled bars from the sides of a diamond but are awkward to read. Thank heavens for the digital speedo in the middle of the display, its saving grace.

There’s also a screen in the centre to control the essential functions but DS has seen fit to give the options of physical buttons, too, maybe because they recognise that it’s currently older people, technophobes if you like, who will be able to afford the car for the foreseeable future as they have more spare cash! Keen eyes are needed to find the silver metallic Stop/Start button which lurks beneath the central swivelling clock.

Under the bonnet it’s all traditional, a two litre 180 PS diesel engine but coupled to the latest eight speed automatic gearbox. It endowed the car with an average 42 mpg despite the bluff front with a huge grille and it glided between ratios smoothly for most of the time but we were on main roads for the majority of the test. We have replaced the DS with the latest version of the Peugeot 5008 with the same engine/transmission combination and it will be interesting to see how it performs over a longer period with more switchback routes.

Maurice and Annette Hardy

Car: DS 7 Crossback Ultra Prestige BlueHDI 180 EAT8

Does it fit your ego…
0-62 mph: 9.9 secs
Top speed: 134 mph
PS: 180 @ 3750 rpm
Torque: 400 Nm @ 2000 rpm

…and your wallet…
Price: £43,580
Combined: 57.6 mpg
CO2 emissions: 128 g/km

Best bits: brings DS bang up to date

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