Not sure about the looks? You can’t argue with the sentiment
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The Top Gear car review:DS 7 Crossback
For:Committed cabin style, relaxed chassis, it's not the usual premium-brand suspects.
Against:The outside's not so distinctive, noisy 2.0 diesel, no 4WD yet, it's not the usual premium-brand suspects.
What is it?
A few years ago the French conglomerate decided to spin DS off into a separate brand. A simple alliteration explains why: premium players pocket the plumpest profits. But up to now DS has been selling only facelifted versions of the cars that were born as Citroen DSs. The 7 is the first DS that was conceived from the word go to be a DS, meaning to be premium.
DS says it’s avant-garde. But don’t get carried away with the idea it’ll spit out a string of originals along the lines of the oddball DS 5, or indeed game-changing 1955 Citroen DS.
Actually, about the least original thing you could possibly do in early 2018 is launch a compact premium crossover. Jaguar just did with the E-Pace, Volvo with the XC40, all rallied up against the X1, Q3 and GLA. The DS 7’s basic sheetmetal is very normal indeed. A Lexus NX is far kookier.
Top Gear has spent hours arguing the toss with DS management about how this drearily conformist direction can possibly square with their claim to be revolutionary? Why not do something as out-there as the Citroen C6, or the DS 5? They just smile. Everyone says they love the look of those two cars, but no-one bought them. People, in their sheep-like millions, buy normal-looking crossovers.
OK, so what in this car does answer to the claim of avant-garde? Inside, the trims and materials and switches are in places a bit bling, in others rather gorgeous. Materials are fine: leather, metal, hi-res widescreens. The whole confection somehow has the air of a self-consciously designed boutique hotel bar. Or maybe bathroom. Minus the porcelain.
Some unique tech comes along too. So the top-end 7s get a suspension system that continually adapts the dampers according to the road ahead as seen by a windscreen camera. That’s a world-first (at least using dampers; Mercedes has an even more elaborate one with active springs too). Each headlamp contains three ice-cube like LED blocks that rotate and pivot in a sequential dance when you unlock. The first DS of course, gave us hydropneumatic suspension and swivelling headlamps, so there’s resonance here.
Night vision is on the menu – and unavailable on any rival. So’s a near-piloted motorway driving system much like Volvo’s and Mercedes’s. But this one works better in our experience.
There’s also a 4x4 plug-in version coming in mid-2019, with a big enough battery to give it 30 miles’ real-world electric range and 300bhp if petrol and e-power are combined. It’s a petrol engine and motor at the front, and motor-only at the back. Which, they’ll tell you, is a nice segue into the DS-branded Formula E racers.
Forget the race-car. DS isn’t at all about sportiness. It’s a comfort thing. That squishy road-reading chassis, the driver aids, the plush cabin, a longer wheelbase than the class norm to get more back-seat space. You get the picture. Deep breath… et relaxer.