31.10.2018DS 7 Crossback BlueHDi 180 review
The DS 7 Crossback is a completely new model for the relatively fledgling brand, and looks to bring in buyers from a fiercely competitive market; those looking for premium SUVs. This one is powered by a diesel engine, though petrols are available too and a plug-in hybrid is confirmed for production in future. NGC takes the premium French SUV for a spin.
Review by Chris Lilly
Aiming to cover a number of buyers' needs, DS offers a wide range of engines with its DS 7 Crossback. Petrol units are offered with 130hp, 180hp, or 225hp, while diesel options are made up of a 130hp or 180hp units. It is the last of these engines tested here - the DS 7 Crossback BlueHDi 180 automatic. The 180hp is complemented by 400 Nm of torque, with everything going through an eight-speed automatic gearbox to the front wheels. Performance figures are rated at a 9.4 second 0-62mph time and a top speed of 134mph. The DS 7 Crossback isn't the most performance-focused SUV, with even the range-topping 225hp petrol unit taking 8.4 seconds for the conventional sprint time. Instead, this diesel-powered version relies on big slugs of torque for in-gear acceleration, and it it's a consummate motorway machine. The gearbox isn't the fastest to change, but with eight ratios to choose from, it's rarely caught in the wrong gear. There are paddles to take control should you feel the need to preempt the gearbox too. Performance is brisk then, if not electric, and it works well in most situations.
As a brand inspired by Citroen's legendary DS, the DS 7 Crossback should eschew the sportier set-ups of many SUVs in this market and focus on comfort. Thankfully, it does. The DS tested featured the company's Active Scan Suspension, which 'reads' the road ahead, adjusting the spring settings accordingly to deal with what's coming up. It sounds very high-tech but in reality, it doesn't feel much different to a well engineered set of springs on rival models. That may be a complement or a criticism, I'm not sure, though I suspect the latter. Regardless of the impact of the car's trick set-up, the DS 7 Crossback rides well on just about all surfaces. Harsh lumps and bumps in the road's surface get transmitted through to the cabin, but most imperfections are smoothed away. Despite a 'sport' setting available, the DS 7 Crossback doesn't offer a sporty drive, with more lean while cornering than rival offerings. There's no issue though, and it matches the engine's strengths, with a more relaxed drive suiting the DS rather than a spirited one. That said, when you need to get a lick on, the DS 7 Crossback is highly capable, with accurate if light steering allowing the driver to pilot a precise line. It's well suited to town work and motorways, and although an open road isn't it's natural habitat, the DS will cope well.
There's no denying the DS 7 Crossback's style, with a number of features that help it stand out from the crowd. This is the first model of a new generation of cars from DS, which move away from largely re-badged Citroen products to ones developed specifically for the brand. The DS 7 Crossback sits on a shared platform, but the look and set-up is distinctly DS. The chevron-inspired triangle/diamond theme that DS uses is present across the model inside and out, and the DS 7 Crossback's design works well in a crowded market - one where it competes with Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes Benz, and Volvo. It has its own identity, and goes about things with a touch of Gallic flair. In terms of practicality, the DS 7 Crossback performs fairly well, with a large boot to tempt buyers in with a practical focus. It's wide, with a flat floor, and stretches a fair way back to the rear seats, though it's not particularly deep. It will still swallow a large amount of kit, and there's a spacious section of underfloor storage to stash bits and pieces away. Leg and head room in the rear is comfortable even for tall adults, and those up front have a huge amount of space.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The DS 7 Crossback's seats are very comfortable, even considering the car's in a class that has traditional seat market leaders Volvo and Lexus. There's plenty of support and plushness on offer, and a set of four adults will have no complaints at being carted even long distances. They set a tone for an interior that is clearly aiming at the top end of the market - though one that could do with a little more colour in my opinion. The model tested was the DS 7 Crossback Ultra Prestige Opera which had a dark exterior to match the black paint outside, so it's easy enough to inject a little extra colour inside - it was just the car on review. What the dark surfaces do highlight are the chrome detailing inside and out. The controls are largely sited on the high centre console, putting them in easy reach for users. There is a large touchscreen system that controls a number of features, tidying the dashboard up. It's not a bad unit, but behind those from the likes of Volvo and Audi. The graphics are a little simple - though of high enough quality - it's not the fastest to respond, and some functions require you to dig through screens to get to. It's intuitive to use though, and there are some shortcut buttons available. The driver gets a large digital screen for the instruments, which will be familiar to those that have used Peugeot's i-Cockpit system. It allows for customisable views and different lay-outs. Again, where the system - though visually different - on the Peugeot is a class leading set-up, in this more prestigious company, it's not as good as rival versions. There are a number of nice little details about the cabin which help the DS 7 Crossback's premium credentials. A B.R.M R180 analogue clock revolves out of the dash for a touch of class, and there is a roller-selector beneath the wide touchscreen system for certain systems.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
DS Automobiles lists the model tested as returning 42.7 MPG and emitting 128 g/km CO2. During testing, the DS 7 Crossback showed an average of 39.7 MPG for the most part, and that's a good figure to aim for. It's also pretty close to the official figure, indicating that the 180hp diesel unit deals well with the DS 7 Crossback's bulk. After a trip where I was in a particular hurry, the average fuel economy figure was 34.4 MPG, though this should be a worst case scenario for many potential buyers. VED can cost £205 for the first year, and then £140 for the Standard Rate thereafter. Buyers towards the top end of the model range - including those looking at the Ultra Prestige model tested - need to take care though since some versions that will cost more than the £40,000 Premium Rate threshold, taking VED for years 2-6 up to £450.
One of the key elements available to drivers to maximise efficiency in the DS 7 Crossback is the drive mode select, which offers an Eco option. This reduces throttle response, set the gearbox to change up sooner, and reduces the drain on power from auxiliary systems. The BlueHDi engine is an efficient one in the market, making good use of turbocharging technology and advanced materials to maximise fuel economy. The EAT8 transmission is one that has been designed with efficiency in mind too, while manual models get a gear change indicator. Auto stop/start is fitted as standard. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 45.
Trim levels are spread out across Elegance, Performance Line, Prestige, and Ultra Prestige for the DS 7 Crossback. Entry level Elegance trim includes features such as 18-inch alloys, leather steering wheel and gear knob, LED rear lights, automatic wipers and lights, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, rear parking sensors, cruise control, comfort seat pack, keyless start, and DAB, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto media system. Performance Line adds 19-inch alloys, DS Adaptive Scan Suspension, DS Performance-inspired trim details, 12-inch DS Connect Nav touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, Alcantara dash trim, DS Active LED Vision - a nice touch that sees three modules in each headlight rotate round on start and shut-down - 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and LED cornering front fog lights. Prestige offers similar levels of kit but with a more luxurious focus, rather than a sporty one. Included are front parking sensors with reversing camera, wireless phone charging, Advanced Safety Pack, leather seats and dashboard trim, and crystal controls. Ultra Prestige with DS Inspiration Opera pack tested adds Focal Electra audio system, 20-inch alloys, DS Connected Pilot driver assist systems, electric opening panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and start, ventilated & massage front seats, and Nappa leather seats & dashboard panels.
The DS 7 Crossback is a good premium SUV, though flawed in some areas. It competes well with rivals in a number of categories, but requires a bit more time and effort from this still young brand to prove a true competitor. However, it's a characterful model, one that is comfortable to drive, well equipped, fairly frugal, and great to look at. The DS 7 Crossback is a car that gets under your skin and proves rather likeable.
Model tested: DS 7 Crossback BlueHDi 180 Ultra Prestige Opera EAT8
Body-style: Premium SUV
Engine / CO2: 2.0 litre diesel / 128 g/km
Trim grades: Elegance, Performance, Prestige, Ultra Prestige
On-road price: Range from £28,140. Price as tested £45,975
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars