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MotorBar - New Car Reviews
DS 7 Crossback Performance Line PureTech 225

Click to view picture gallery“Fancy some ooh la-la to brighten
  up your driving day? Then what you
  need is a Crossback, from DS...”


AVANT-GARDE is definitely on the menu with the new Crossback from French carmaker DS. If you don't know the shorthand, then Crossback stands for 'compact SUV'
and it could be just what you crave.

In case you hadn't heard, DS is a stand-alone luxury brand spun off from the Peugeot-Citroen Group, so no surprise that the DS 7 sits on the same platform used by one of Peugeot's best crossovers and that power comes from PSA engines — in the case of the Performance Line DS 7, that means a PureTech 225hp (221bhp) turbocharged petrol engine.

Looks-wise the Crossback stands out proudly in a market sector already crowded with premium British, Swedish and German SUVs. The DS 7 is a bigger than normal 'compact' SUV with a similar body mass to an Audi Q5, but bold design flourishes guarantee that the DS is more distinctive than its classmates: touches such as individual LED elements within the lights that rotate sequentially and glow purple as the car is unlocked plus, providing extra visual interest at at the tail, glistening 3D-style diamond-pattern LED rear light clusters — all these dandy design tweaks are brought into focus by the bodyshell's smooth and delightfully UN-sculptured surfacing.

That old American
saying about there being
no substitute for
horsepower proves true
with the pokiest
powerplant currently available in the DS 7,
the range-topping
221bhp 1.6-litre turboed
petrol unit — and it
makes quick work of
bread-and-butter driving
chores such as
overtaking and joining
motorways...”
Fronting the DS 7 is an imposing hexagonal grille flanked by slim light units that bleed into the upper front wings above vertical 'strip' daytime running lights. Along the DS 7's clean flanks a high beltline is capped by a sleek glasshouse, while black wheelarch cladding is a token reminder of its SUV DNA. Dramatic 20-inch diamond-cut black alloy wheels finish off the ensemble.

That old American saying about there being 'no substitute for horsepower' proves true with the pokiest powerplant currently available in the DS 7 — the range-topping 221bhp 1.6-litre turboed petrol unit that also generates a muscular 221lb ft of torque. Other engine-bay options are a 181hp 1.6 petrol and two diesels; 130hp 1.5-litre and 180hp 2.0-litre. More power (and four-wheel drive) is due in 2019 when a 300bhp E-Tense plug-in hybrid version reaches the showrooms.

The 221bhp petrol-drinker is a sweet-revving inline four-pot; work it hard and it stays smooth, staying audibly in the background even under strong acceleration and only really becoming noticeable at the upper end of the rev range. Throttle response is good and it always feels willing, making quick work of bread-and-butter driving chores such as overtaking and joining motorways.

The eight-speed autobox is also a polished operator, shifting ratios both up and down in a fluent manner. Should you wish to take full control of the change points there's a manual mode using paddles-shifters. Overall the 221bhp DS 7 has a confident and relaxed gait although you do need to watch the digital speed read-out as it's all too easy to think you're not travelling as fast as you actually are. Zero to 62mph is done and dusted in a brisk 8.3 seconds and maxed out you'll see 141mph.

The surprise is the highly respectable 44.7mpg (the official combined cycle figure is 47.9mpg) we recorded at the end of a hard week's driving. With its 14.53-gallon fuel tank, this DS 7 is good for a convenient 650-mile range between fill-ups.

While DS offers a high-tech ride-enhancing suspension it's not standard-fit on the 221bhp Performance Line model. Not a problem because, even rolling on 20-inch alloy wheels, our test car served up a comfortable and relaxing ride. The driver can also choose from three drive modes: Eco, Normal, and Sport.

The front-wheel drive
set-up sends enough feel
to the helm to keep the
high-riding and relatively
softly sprung DS 7
honest; it can be
cornered quite keenly
and tidily even though
comfort is clearly its
primary mission
statement. Suffice to say
that it
s happy to be
hustled along when the
call comes...”
The front-wheel drive set-up sends enough feel to the helm to keep the high-riding and relatively softly sprung DS 7 honest; it can be cornered quite keenly and tidily even though comfort is clearly its primary mission statement. Suffice to say that it's happy to be hustled along when the call comes. The brakes, too, are reassuring — discs (ventilated at the front) at each corner ensure all slowing and stopping is managed without any drama, the car remaining reassuringly composed no matter how hard you stamp the pedal.

Diamonds, they say, are a girl's best friend, and you'll find plenty of them — well, diamond-shapes actually — in the DS 7's upscale cabin where they're a recurring theme; there's diamond-shaped switchgear, virtual dials and screen graphics. Fortunately, the DS's stylists knew where to draw the line and they've kept it all very chic and not at all blingy.

There's the expected infotainment and navigation touchscreen dominating the centre of the dash — a crystal clear 12-inch widescreen HD display (with five easily-switched themes: driving, active navigation 3D mapping, personal, minimal, and just 'dials') through which most of the DS 7's features, including the climate, are easily controlled; underscoring it is a row of touch-sensitive menu shortcut buttons. Navigation is foolproof and much appreciated are the timely audible and visual speed camera warnings alerts.

The multifunction controls and knurled roller switches on the flat-bottomed steering wheel are beautifully finished and ensure you rarely need to take your hands off the perforated leather rim when driving.

Overall the well-fitted and smartly-appointed cabin exudes a premium Gallic charm, enhanced as it is by the tasteful deployment of luxurious suede — cladding the fascia, central console, doors and seating — further embellished by stylised metal finishings. The shapely and well padded front seats both feature quick-acting three-stage heating and look seriously inviting.

Another big 'plus' is the abundance of inner space: knee-room is very generous (plus there's extending under-knee support and powered lumber adjustment), and there's plenty of headroom too; better still, if you're the one driving you won't be banging elbows with whoever's riding shotgun.

The DS 7s well-fitted
and smartly-appointed
cabin exudes a premium
Gallic charm, enhanced
as it is by the tasteful
deployment of luxurious
suede cladding the
fascia, central console,
doors and seating,
all further
embellished by stylised
metal finishings...
Pressing the Start button (intelligently sited top-dead-centre of the dash) not only fires up the engine but activates the 'easy entry and exit' seat action, powering it forward several inches to its last used position (there's a two-setting driver's seat and mirror memory recall). The driver sits commandingly tall in the saddle and enjoys an excellent view of the road ahead.

Equally satisfying is the Star Trek-style selector lever. It's set at just the right angle and is foolproof to use with a Manual mode and paddle-shifters close to the wheel rim. There's also an easy finger-operated electric parking brake and a left-foot rest set at a restful angle — particularly useful in an automatic, and not just when cruising.

In-cabin storage is plentiful with a very accommodating 'box' under pop-up split centre armrest sections and a good-sized lift-out top tray, air-conditioned glovebox and practical door bins, siamesed dual-use cupholders, and a deep tray ahead of the selector lever along with a drop-down sunglasses case above the driver's door.

With its gloss black grille and blacked-out exterior trim the Performance Line is the sportiest-looking Crossback in the DS 7 line-up. Slotting in above the entry-level 28K Elegance, it comes very well appointed and with plenty of premium kit including the 12-inch Infotainment and SatNav HD touchscreen, 12.3-inch customisable digital instrument panel, voice recognition, Bluetooth handsfree, MirrorScreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB digital radio with eight speakers, and emergency and assistance systems.

You also get BI-zone automatic AirCon, keyless start, Alcantara upholstery, heated front seats, dark-tinted rear windows, aluminium sport pedals with a matching left-foot rest, rear parking sensors, one-shot power windows (all four), defrosting and powerfolding door mirrors (on demand and auto on locking and leaving), frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror, electric parking brake, adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, acoustic tinted and heated windscreens, automatic drive-away door locking, and a set of 19-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels.

Within its 4.5-metre
length the DS 7
fits in a longer
wheelbase than many of
its competitors so
passengers travelling in
the back benefit from
decent amounts of
legroom; even a third
adult sitting between the
two outer passengers
will be able to relax,
and the flat rear floor
means playing footsie
is optional,
not compulsory!”
Safety kicks off from the high ground with a full five-star EuroNCAP rating and core safety and assist systems such as automatic emergency braking, Lane Departure warning, Speed Limit Recognition warning, and Driver Attention warning. DS active LED headlights (multi-mode adaptive lighting with automatic switching between town, country, motorway, and adverse weather condition settings) with high beam assist, LED daytime running lights, LED front fog lights with cornering function, and 3D LED rear lights. Added to that is an electronic stability programme, Trailer Stability Control, Hill Start assist, tyre pressure monitoring and a full suite of airbags front and rear plus height-adjustable front seatbelts.

Optional 'extras' number headline features such as Night Vision (the DS 7 is the first compact SUV to offer this), DS Active Scan Suspension, a clever ride-enhancing suspension feature that uses a camera to analyse the road up to a twenty metres ahead of the car and then adjusts the dampers (stiffer or softer) to best accommodate the surface the wheels are about to roll over. And then there's a semi-autonomous motorway driving system that lets you 'drive or be driven' on tiresome motorway trips as well as an Advanced Traction Control system for getting to grips with snow, mud and sand.

Within its 4,570mm overall length the DS 7 incorporates a longer wheelbase — 2,740mm — than many of its competitors so passengers travelling in the back benefit from loads of leg and foot room with more than a fist of headroom; even a third adult sitting between the two outer passengers will be able to relax, and the flat rear floor means playing footsie is optional, not compulsory. The deep windows are fitted with privacy glass and there are dedicated air vents, two USB ports, usable door pockets, mesh magazine pouches, and two cupholders built into the comfy central armrest. Getting in and out is easy and parents will be glad of the Isofix child seat mounting points and driver-operated childproof door and window locks. All in all the rear cabin is very restful and comfortable, especially on long trips.

Access to the deep boot is though a wide opening; there's a lift-up rear shelf that rises with the tailgate to cover the luggage instead of a roller blind, an arrangement many owners prefer. The DS 7's generous 618-litre boot trumps those of a number of its rivals and it also features a useful ski-hatch. Folding the rear row's 60:40-split backrests (they fold perfectly level) creates a versatile 1,752-litre loadbay. For those with a need to tow, the 221bhp DS 7 will haul an unbraked 1,550kg.

Desirable and stylish, the charmingly laid-back DS 7 is as satisfying to own and live with as it is to drive and comes well specced with all the important kit and useful driver assists plus, of course, that informal elan that the French have made their own. ~ MotorBar
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DS 7 Crossback Performance Line PureTech 225 | 34,990
Maximum speed: 141mph | 0-62mph: 8.3 seconds | Test Average: 44.7mpg
Power: 221bhp | Torque: 221lb ft | CO2: 134g/km

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