DS 7 Crossback E-TENSE 4×4: a worthy German rival?

GUS likes fashionable French design, and SUVs are all the rage at the moment, so combining the two in the DS 7 Crossback should make it the darling of the large SUV sector.

The car market is rather different to the fashion world, though – especially with those German premium brands winning over so many buyers. So the DS 7 Crossback’s mission is to convince us it’s as good as anything Audi, BMW and Mercedes can build.

To be honest, things didn’t get off to a great start. When the original DS cars were released in 2016, it was hard to figure out what their unique selling points were because they were often rebadged Citroën models.

After a bit of a rethink, DS is taking lessons from haute couture when it comes to crafting its interiors. It is also offering a number of high-end features, including active suspension and adaptive headlights (which come as standard on more expensive models), to try to push the DS 7 into the upper echelons of the large SUV category.

That’s not all. The DS 7 Crossback also makes use of a big, distinctive front grille, wide air intakes and a high waistline on the outside to give it a dominating aesthetic.

Well, the comfort theme continues with huge leather-coated armchairs and plenty of space. The all-out diamond look won’t be for everyone though, and DS has shoved every single feature into the 12-inch infotainment screen… The touchscreen features shortcut buttons underneath, which is good, but you still have to go into the touchscreen to change any cabin climate settings, which results in more button-pressing than is ideal.

The information in the digital instruments in front of the driver can be changed by scrolling a rotary button on the steering wheel, and you can view satnav information between the dials. controls for the electric windows are in the centre of car rather than in the doors, which isn’t particularly intuitive, and fitting an Isofix car seat in the rear seat is a real struggle. DS 7 E-TENSE 4×4 is available in all three trim levels: Performance Line, Prestige and Ultra Prestige.

It does all look very premium, though, and it’s pretty practical with a 628-litre boot and plenty of space in the rear seats.

Well, it’s a good one with its 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to two electric motors (one front, one rear) and a 13.2kWh battery. All-electric range is around 55 km at speeds of up to 130km/h.

That means it does have a fair turn of pace. DS quotes a 0-100 km/h time of 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 240km/h. As it’s a plug-in hybrid, they also quote between 166 and 235mpg, as well as between 33 and 37g/km of CO2. Efficient. Charging the battery takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes from a 7.2kW wall box.

The premise is that the car monitors the road ahead and can individually prepare each wheel to deal with approaching imperfections. It’s genuinely floaty – perhaps a little too much in Comfort mode – but in all other modes it’s supremely well composed, even with 20-inch wheels. That does mean it rolls through corners, but you’re never encouraged to drive the DS 7 in that manner. At motorway speeds there’s a real lack of wind or road noise too. It’s impressively insulated.

In 4WD mode it’ll manage a bit of basic off roading too, although don’t expect full-on overlanding capabilities.

The headline is that the DS 7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4X4 is good to drive. It feels like a quality product, it’s quiet, refined, comfortable, and there’s decent performance. This applies when driving using the petrol engine, but even more so when driving on electric power.

And it’s good to know that the car can be capable off-road if fitted with the appropriate rubber. You can also drive in 4WD using just electric power.

There is a number of drive modes to choose from: Electric, Comfort, Hybrid, Sport and 4WD.

DS Night Vision, one of the options on our test car, uses the infrared camera in the radiator grille to improve visibility during the night. The technology is able to identify pedestrians and animals over 50cm tall up to a distance of 100m. The DS 7 CROSSBACK is the first vehicle in the C-SUV segment with this technology.

The DS 7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE looks good on the outside and in the interior. It’s an SUV, so it’s practical with decent amounts of space. This is DS’s first plug-in hybrid, but, price apart, the E-Tense is now the pick of the DS 7 Crossback range. It’s swift, smooth enough, and the Active Scan suspension seems to work better here than in the standard car.

DS7 E-TENSE 4X4 

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