[This article was first published on oneshift.com]
After fielding a number of Citroen-badged cars with DS badging, and later on dropping of all Citroen references; DS now truly has a car of its own. The new marque has been a standalone brand for a while now, there was always that question if they were truly serious in building on the DS name… And they have.
The all new DS 7 Crossback is their very first “true” DS car, and the French manufacturer has in their sights cars like the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5 and even Infiniti’s innovative QX50.
The “wow factor” in the car is truly in the little details. Chrome plating is used to good measure in the front and rear, including head and tail light internals; and the DS 7 Crossback easily makes a bold statement with its large criss-crossed grille, emblazoned with a large DS logo. Chrome trim grille surrounds are flanked by triple fancy swivel LED headlamps, which are a nod to the original DS 19… And yes! They even perform a little shimmy shimmy for you, when you unlock the vehicle.
Tail lamps too have not been left out from fancy design treatment, with a diamond-themed assembly, encased in transparent covers; quite bold a move, since the decorative-reflective chrome trim aids with enhancing its illumination. Below the boot door, a pair of more conventional “regulatory” tail lights are placed to provide for rear-ward illumination when the door (with its lights) is open; perhaps the only element seemingly out-of-place in the Crossback’s design.
The DS 7 is marginally smaller than the competition, sitting on a wheelbase of 2,738mm (the Audi Q5 benefits from 2,819mm, while the larger Infiniti QX50 is at 2,880mm). But while it is smaller, it is proportionately flared at the wheel arches and its slim horizontal tail lamps, together with the car’s “bling” frontal styling, visually adds “size” to a car seemingly larger-than-life. The top-level trim DS 7 is equipped with 20” rims while lower trim models make do with 18” units.
French brands have a tendency to build cars a little poor in fit when it comes to their interiors, and the more complex the combination of materials and designs are, the greater the inconsistencies become.
DS on the other hand seems to have no issue with this on their Crossback. On the contrary, they seem to have done quite an excellent job. Our ‘Opera’ trim test car is equipped with a leather-covered dash and door cards, intricately threaded with what DS calls “Pearl Stitching”.
Art Black Nappa Basalt leather lines the seats, and features unique watch strap design, which contributes a little more to how supple the seats already are. Those in the front also benefit from ventilated seats and five different massage modes (the Cat Paw massage mode seems rather fun). Rear passengers have access to their own air-conditioning vents, complete with fan speed and thermostat controls. Rear seats are electrically reclineable from between 23 to 32 degrees for a touch of added comfort.
The dash is a celebration of luxurious textures and materials, with the car’s diamond theme further interpreted onto its 12” HD touchscreen and 121.3” digital instrument display. In-between the central air-conditioning vents, a B.R.M R180 timepiece sits proud, revealing itself when you start up the car.
Connectivity to mobile devices through Android Auto and Apple CarPLay is available, and so is wireless charging for mobile devices. Adding to the luxurious in-car experience, the flagship variant is equipped with a specially built 14-speaker FOCAL Electra premium sound system.
While there is plenty of brand-defining form, one cannot escape components from the common PSA parts bin, the easiest to point out being its banana-shaped gearshift lever.
An automated rear tailgate reveals a large 555 litre boot, 5 litres more than most cars in its class, though the Infiniti QX50 does take the prize with 881 litres to bost.
A high-powered 1.6 litre turbocharged engine, mounted in transverse style; pumps out 221bhp, and 300Nm from 2,750rpm, and drives the front wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. 0-100km/h takes in 8.9 seconds, which is respectable.
The delivery of its drive is impressively smooth; part of this is attributed to the DS 7’s Active Scan Suspension which works in tandem with a windscreen-mounted camera to scan the terrain ahead; and which in-turn utilises an array of four height sensors and three accelerometers, to monitor vehicle speed, steering angle, and braking to help determine how much it should adjust the suspension’s level of damping. The system “spiritually” takes over the ride smoothening duties of the hydropneumatic suspensions which were equipped in Citroen vehicles of the yesteryears.
There is only minimal road noise from the wheels seeping into the cabin, thanks to some good noise insulation.
Drive the car in a spritted manner, and DS 7 Crossback makes it clear that it is not intended to be a driver’s car, although that trick suspension keeps the wheels well-planted.
One major gripe we have is the reverse camera, which does not provide a clear picture of what is behind the car, and the slight delay in projecting the image on screen, would mean that if you need to be camera-dependent during reverse parking, accuracy in backing in can only be best described as vague.
There are a good number of hits and misses with the DS 7 Crossback. For one, it is loaded with features, especially given its price. Interior quality and the level of comfort makes the DS a great place to be in, especially during long journeys. Stylistic-but-functional elements like its swivel headlamps, adds to the allure of this premium SUV. However, equipment like its reverse camera are a letdown, especially if you are building a car to compete in such a segment.
Take the frilly features away, and you will in essence, have yourself a Peugeot 3008 or an Opel Grandland. But what PSA had done in building the DS on the very same architecture is truly quite remarkable.
Build quality (I dare say it this time), Comfort, Creature spoils, Bold aesthetics
Reverse camera is a huge letdown, lots of nooks and crannies within the dash and centre console to clean
A very good attempt by the DS brand, perhaps they should have more autonomy in the future from their Peugeot parent, so that we can once again see cars which are truly special
[Source article: oneshift.com/car-reviews/11806/ds-7-crossback-puretech-225-2019]