DS7 Crossback is the first all-new car from DS Automobiles, the snappy intruder from PSA Peugeot Citroën. The brand began in 2009 with the seminal Citroën DS3, dripping with driver appeal and refinement. A cabriolet followed and in 2016, on the formation of DSA, the Citroën name was dropped.
Today there are many DS models, all based on PSA models. This DS7 is the first of six DS cars in the next six years. It is the first DS to make a credible pitch against brands like Audi and Jaguar. Its price band of £28,050 to £43,535 intersects with the entry prices of the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC, and is in the heartland of the Jaguar E Pace, Lexus NX and Volvo XC60. The Jag is several inches shorter, the others are a few inches longer than the DS7. Its nearest size equivalent in the PSA camp is Peugeot’s cheaper 5008 SUV.
DS7 is sort of SUV. There’s a lot of attention to natty detailing outside and in. The rear light units are cross-crossed into a jewelled pattern. The front lamps sparkle into life and then swivel into play when you unlock the car. Doors are uncluttered – the window switches are silvery insets either side of the gear lever. Start her up (DS’s name derives from goddess in French) using a button top dead centre of the panel and a bespoke, watch-sized BRM clock, made near Paris, rotates to face you. The French capital plays a large part in the stated inspiration for the DS7. Places such as Opera and Bastille name the “inspiration” additions you can add to the model line, from Elegance to Ultra Prestige.
You are going to have to sit down with your dealer or computer to work out a permutation to suit you. To get you started you can skip the base Elegance unless you are on a tight rein. It’s not what it’s got but what it hasn’t got that counts, such as navigation or heated front seats or any engine other than the 130 diesel with manual gears.
The Performance Line brings the nav and other extras (£31,435 for the 130ps diesel) but not the hot seats. To enjoy them you’ll need Prestige, from £34,435 for the 130ps unit. These two lines offer all three current engines.
These other engines are eight-speed automatics, an 180ps diesel and a 225ps petrol. An expensive 300ps petrol hybrid with 4x4 drive is on the way. Citroën sales recovered last month but DS was down 56 per cent. Diesel sales continue to plummet. Petrol and electric are rising.
Happily, PSA is now back in the black after looking doomed four years ago. It had a 15 per cent rise in world sales last year to 3.5 million, of which 45 per cent were outside Europe. Last year it bought Opel and Vauxhall and it can afford to put money and time into DS. It will hope to emulate Toyota’s Lexus and Nissan’s Infiniti – though their major revenue comes from outside Europe.
The DS7 Crossback is good enough. It has arrogance, flair, drives well, catches the eye, tugs at the emotions with its prettifying and primping and that oh-my face. Underneath it has a group platform used by, among others, the smaller Peugeot 3008 – and Vauxhalls.
Customers will not be assailed by this cultural contamination. The DS brand is moving into bespoke showrooms, called Stores or Salons, not necessarily cheek to cheek with Citroën. A luxury experience is promised for the browser, with a “virtual vision” headset to view the options. It looks like a gas mask.
Anyway, having spent just an hour apiece in the Ultra Prestige 180 (£43,535) and the Prestige 130, the main question was whether I’d pass up membership of the established image enhancing brands for life with this gallic show pony.
I’d need more time to decide but I know which car would turn heads – and it’s French.
High end options new to DS include night vision which uses infra red to give a greyish view on the car’s instrument display, picking out pedestrians and animals which may not have been visible in the headlamps. It costs £1,100 to £1,600 (depending on the model). Another piece of kit, a £1,000 option with the 180 engine, scans the road and pre-sets the suspension for a nicer ride. Hard to tell.
The UK media debut was in Sunningdale at the immaculate Coworth Park. The route was notable for fabulous property and stacks of speed cameras to keep the locals at heel. The navigation screen helpfully showed them all in a file on the screen.
Both cars got round. Phew. Neither is a racer. The 180 has a 0-62 time of 9.9 seconds – not a pace by which your Q5 chap will be impressed. The 130 is a second slower.
Listed eco info is 57.6mpg and 128g for the 180 and 68.9mpg and 107g for the 130. The car computer showed a thirsty 35mpg for the 180 and a happier 55mpg for the 130.
Verdict: You are gorgeous. Let’s meet up in the Bois de Boulogne.