Driven: DS 7 Crossback

The DS 7 Crossback is the French firm’s stab at the premium SUV market; is it good enough to rival Jaguar, Audi, BMW and Mercedes? Carlton Boyce investigates.

Whereas previous DS models have been based on existing Citroen models, the new DS 7 Crossback has been designed from the ground up as a unique model. The first of six planned models, it success is crucial to the company’s plans to grow the brand.

The exterior is unoriginal to the point of anonymity, which is especially disappointing when you consider the extent to which they are leveraging the Citroen DS’s heritage. It’s not that it is an unattractive car – in fact, from some angles it is downright handsome – but it does feel like a bit of a missed opportunity.

Unlike the interior, in which the designers appear to have been given free rein. Too much perhaps, because it is so enthusiastically styled as to make it unintuitive to use. The logo on the switches for the electrically operated windows, for example, is hard to fathom; while I appreciate that familiarity would obviate that problem, surely good design should be intuitive. No-one has ever read an operating manual for an iPhone, have they?

So, parallelograms dominate with quilted leather vying with lozenge-shaped switches and diamond-shaped graphicsfor your attention. There’s quite a lot going on and it’s not easy on the eye.

While the interior of the original Citroen DS (sorry to go harping on about it but if you’re going to name an entire brand after one of the 20th century’s most iconic cars then I’m afraid that you’re going to have to live with it being referenced…) was idiosyncratic and quirky as a by-product of its ergonomic design, that of the DS 7 Crossback seems to be so as a matter of deliberation.

Which is a shame because the DS 7 Crossback drives very well indeed. It’s quiet and handles much better than anyone has any right to expect from an SUV. With a o-62mph time of 8.3 seconds its performance is brisk rather than fast, but that’s okay because no-one is going to buy one and expect anything more. The eight-speed automatic gearbox makes a decent fist of changing gears when you want it to, and the changes are nicely done and almost undetectable under normal driving and you should manage to eke out 35-40mpg without too much effort.

The ride is as smooth as the gearbox, with the emphasis being firmly on comfort. Again, while you might think you want a car that handles firmly, you really don’t; a good driver can drive anything quickly, and even the best of us spend far more time wafting around on part throttle than we do honing around the backroads – and when you do want to stretch its legs, Sport mode tightens things up quite nicely, even if you’re never going to make the mistake of thinking you’re behind the wheel of something like an Audi.

My test car cost almost £41,000, albeit that included £795 for metallic paint. That stuck me as quite a lot of money, even for a car as well equipped as this.

All-in-all, the DS 7 Crossback is a pleasant place to be, rather than a rewarding one. I found the interior a little busy for my tastes, but if you’re more avant-garde in your thinking then you might just love it; we motoring journalist-types are always complaining that no-one builds a distinctive car anymore, yet we moan like hell when someone launches something like the DS7 with its wacky interior…

 

Carlton Boyce @motoringjourno

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Happiest in the snow, Carlton is an ex-police officer and prison governor who has migrated to the world of adventure travel via motoring journalism. Carlton drives boats and pickups with more enthusiasm than skill, and is currently working on his first novel in addition to his prison memoirs.

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