DS 7 E-Tense Review & Prices

The DS 7 offers a trio of plug-in hybrid models that can be very cheap to run, but they need to be plugged in frequently to make the most of that efficiency

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RRP £46,700 - £59,300 Avg. Carwow saving £2,575 off RRP
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Reviewed by Carwow after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Lovely cabin quality
  • Practical cabin and boot
  • Can spend a lot of time in electric mode

What's not so good

  • Uncomfortable on poor roads
  • Expensive in higher trims
  • Not as refined as an Audi or Mercedes

Find out more about the DS 7 E-Tense

Is the DS 7 E-Tense a good car?

To answer that question, you have to realise that we’re actually talking about three different cars here. The DS 7 E-Tense is one of the few models around that offers not just a plug-in hybrid version, but three distinctly different plug-in options, all under the E-Tense brand, which signifies an electric or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) DS model. There’s also a separate diesel DS 7 model, too.

With its combination of French luxury and (half) electric power, maybe it’s a road-going version of the famous TGV train? Well, the most powerful 355hp version might be…

All are based around the same 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which by itself has 177hp. The entry-level DS 7 PHEV sticks with front-wheel drive and gets 225hp, so even the basic plug-in is pretty quick — it’ll scamper to 60mph from rest in less than nine seconds.

The other two are both four-wheel drive versions, which make 296hp and 355hp, the latter of which will go from 0-60mph in about five seconds. That’s quick for an economical family SUV.

Of course, that’s not the point. The point is to plug in and charge up the battery as much as possible and do lots of your driving on electric power. Fully charged, all promise about 40 miles of electric-only range, although that’s a bit of an optimistic figure.

You can charge the battery from a three-pin socket at home, which takes around six hours, or plug it into a 7kW car charger, which cuts the battery top-up time to under four hours for the base version, or under two hours for the four-wheel drive versions. Sadly, DS doesn’t offer a rapid DC charging option for the DS 7, meaning that topping up the battery when you’re out and about is slower.

The DS 7 looks great on the outside but the interior is a bit fussy. It’s very practical and feels well-made, though

Officially, the front-wheel drive DS 7 PHEV is meant to offer 250mpg, and the more powerful models aren’t far off that. This is potentially achievable if you’re sticking to shorter journeys and can charge the car regularly to maximise your time on electric power; the DS 7 has a decent range, and if you put it in electric mode it resists the urge to call on petrol power more than most, helping to keep running costs down.

However, those who typically do longer journeys that drain the battery might be better off with the diesel.

Around town, The DS has the ability of all plug-in hybrids to cruise silently on its electric power, but there are some drawbacks. It has a clever adaptive suspension with a camera that can spot bumps and prepare the car to soften them up, but sometimes it misses them and doesn’t feel as relaxing as the simpler diesel version. It just fidgets a bit more over rough road surfaces.

That comfort level increases at higher speeds, although there’s more wind and road noise than you get in an Audi or Mercedes. It’s not much fun in corners, either. Although this is a quick car, it doesn’t have much grip so you can’t make the most of it.

On the upside, the cabin is very well put together and practical, and the 555-litre boot isn’t affected by the position of the hybrid battery (not something you can say for the likes of the Mercedes GLA, where there’s a big drop in boot space on the PHEV). Downsides are a fussy cabin layout, with confusing buttons, and that the air conditioning controls are on the touchscreen rather than separate buttons.

It’s a handsome thing though. At the rear you have new spangly 3D-effect taillights with the 2022 revision, while up front there’s a bigger grille that’s flanked by cool daytime running lights. The headlights are now narrower and you get Matrix LED lights as standard.

Want to find the best bargains on the entire DS range? Then check out carwow’s best DS 7 E-Tense deals, and on every DS. Or have a browse through the latest used DS models available through carwow, and if you’ve got something you need to part with, you can sell your car through carwow too.

How much is the DS 7 E-Tense?

The DS 7 E-Tense has a RRP range of £46,700 to £59,300. However, with Carwow you can save on average £2,575. Prices start at £44,413 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £660. The price of a used DS 7 E-Tense on Carwow starts at £32,495.

Our most popular versions of the DS 7 E-Tense are:

Model version Carwow price from
1.6 E-TENSE Opera 5dr EAT8 £48,061 Compare offers

The DS 7 range starts at around £37,000 for the diesel model, but you’re looking at prices from just over £40,000 for one of these E-Tense hybrid models. That’s about the same as a plug-in Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLA, a bit less than the Volvo XC40, and a touch more than a BMW X1 PHEV.

The entry Performance Line model is only available with the diesel or the lowest-powered hybrid. You get keyless entry, 19-inch alloy wheels and an Alcantara interior – though we prefer the leather upholstery found on other trims.

Higher-powered hybrids start with the Performance Line+ trim and hover around £50,000. You get heated front seats to warm your bottom in winter and a reversing camera to make parking easier.

There are six trims in total, with the highest-specification models getting loads of kit, but starting at a healthy £60,000. You get 21-inch alloy wheels that fill the arches nicely, lovely Nappa leather upholstery and night vision, because… well, why not? At this price, though, it’s hard to recommend the DS 7 over better overall cars like the Q3 and XC40.

Performance and drive comfort

The DS 7 is pretty comfortable to drive, but it’s not much fun in corners and can be quite noisy on the motorway

In town

The DS 7 E-Tense is generally well-suited to city life. For a start, its 40-mile electric range means that it’s easy to spend most of your time running without the petrol engine in town – even if that total figure is tough to achieve – helping bring fuel costs down and relaxing you with its silent operation.

Helping your relaxation is the clever camera-based suspension, which can spot bumps in the road and slacken the suspension so it softens off road imperfections. The problem is sometimes the camera misses hidden bumps and they send a real thwack through the cabin.

On top of this, the suspension is a bit firmer than the regular diesel model, which is a symptom of managing the extra weight of the batteries, so it’s not quite as composed and has a tendency to fidget over rough roads.

Positives? Visibility is pretty good, the steering is light to help low speed manoeuvres, and the brakes are much smoother than you get with most hybrids.

On the motorway

At higher speeds the power of the hybrid system makes itself known, because you can accelerate up to the motorway limit with little fuss. One cool feature is that if you put the car in electric-only mode, you can accelerate quite hard without the engine kicking in – you have to push past a switch on the pedal if you need the extra petrol power.

If you don’t, the DS 7 will happily sit at 70mph on electric, so if your commute is quite short but takes in faster roads, you’re not forced to use the petrol engine if you don’t want to. Not something that can be said for all plug-in hybrids.

In the hybrid mode, where the car decides between petrol and electric based on throttle inputs, the electric motors are very responsive and give you a decent surge of acceleration before the engine takes over. It’s not the smoothest transition, but the pair combine well so there are virtually no gaps in the power.

Unfortunately, once you’re up to speed, the DS 7 doesn’t feel quite as refined as some of its premium competition. There’s more wind and road noise than you will get in an Audi or Mercedes.

On a twisty road

While the firmer suspension can sometimes be annoying when you just want comfort around town, it does have the benefit of making the DS 7 feel more sporty in corners. Some SUVs feel like they are leaning over so much that you don’t have the confidence to have fun. The DS 7 actually corners quite flat, sort of like a sports car.

However, this being a comfort-focused family SUV means that’s not enough to make it as capable (nor fun) in corners as a sports car would be.

Despite this, if you go for the 4x4 models there’s no getting away from the fact that they have hot hatch power and are surprisingly quick, so it can be good fun accelerating between bends.

Space and practicality

The boot and cabin are really practical, but it will be a squeeze to fit three adults in the back seats

Front seat passengers will find it easy to get comfortable in the DS 7, thanks to lots of adjustability in the steering wheel and seats. You can sit quite low for an SUV, but the seats can be adjusted upwards if you prefer that desirable commanding driving position.

Once you’re comfortable you’ll also find the cabin is usefully practical, with a large bin in the centre console, storage beneath the infotainment screen that also has the wireless phone charging pad (on the Opera trim and above), and huge door bins with felt lining to stop things rattling around. The cup holders are okay but won’t hold large bottles easily and the glovebox is tiny, so it’s not all good news.

Space in the back seats

Those in the back should be pretty much as comfortable as those in the front, with good knee room and space for your feet, while headroom is okay unless you’re over six feet tall. The seat bases are deep so you sink into them nicely, but the floor is quite high so your thighs don’t rest on the cushion, which could make long journeys tiresome.

And if you have three people in the back, they’ll be rather squeezed in, with those in the outer seats finding their heads brushing up against the roof above the door windows. A Volvo XC40 is a bit more spacious in the back, though the DS 7 does win points for large door bins and an arm rest with (admittedly shallow) cup holders.

The DS wins more points for being spacious enough to fit a large, rotating car seat. The ISOFIX points are easy enough to access, with the only complaint being that the rear doors don’t open very wide, which makes it slightly trickier to fit the seat. (Or put kids in while they’re having a tantrum.)

Boot space

Again, when it comes to practicality the DS 7 E-Tense gets an A+. Its 555-litre boot is bigger than any of the other cars you might consider. Even with the hybrid’s batteries, the boot is the same size as the diesel’s. Impressive.

That’s not always the case, with the GLA plug-in getting 445 litres to the regular car’s 495, while the Q3 TFSI e has just 380 litres compared with 530 litres in the petrol. The BMW X1 has 500 litres in four-wheel drive versions or 540 litres in two-wheel drive.

As well as being pretty big, there are some useful additions to make boot life easier, such as a 12-volt connector, tie down hooks, a small storage area beneath the floor, and easy seat releases to fold them flat for the full 1,752 litres of space.

So far, so good, but there is a bit of a lip that makes taking heavy items out trickier, while another ridge when the seats are flat means you can’t just slide long items through easily. Furthermore, the false floor from the pre-updated model is no longer present, despite the latches to hold it in place still being there. Weird.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

The infotainment system is sharp and easy to use, but the cabin design is quite fussy

Although the exterior looks great, DS’s styling department has been a bit less successful inside. There’s a lot going on and while it’s certainly unique, it’s all just a bit fussy. There are lots of DS’s signature diamond shapes all over the place and the chunky switches in the centre console look cool, but the large gear selector protruding upwards looks a bit dated now.

Thoroughly modern, though, are the screens. On the old model you’d get a smaller screen lower in the range, but now all models get the larger 12.0-inch infotainment displays, and the 12.3-inch driver display is now standard, too.

The graphics are sharp, it’s quick and responsive, and there’s loads of customisation. All good points. What’s less good is the fact that the climate controls are all in the display and fiddly to use, while the bezel that holds the screen looks and feels like a cheap child’s toy.

Despite some complaints about usability, the DS 7 feels sturdy and solidly put together, with high quality materials throughout. We’re not fans of the Alcantara in the entry level model, though. That should be reserved for sports cars. The fancy leathers are much more appropriate.

MPG, emissions and tax

All three hybrid models have frankly ludicrous official economy figures (you can thank the way they’re tested for that). Each ranges from 150 to 250mpg, which is only really achievable if you keep the batteries topped up to maximise the 40-something miles of electric range.

The reality, though, is that if you don’t do this you’ll be looking at a much less economical car. During our testing, on a run without charging the batteries, we saw 33mpg. Despite high diesel prices, that model might work out cheaper in the long run if you regularly do longer journeys.

Company car buyers will want to swerve the diesel in favour of the hybrid regardless, though, because of the benefit-in-kind, well, benefit. The hybrids all have very low CO2 emissions so qualify for some of the lowest bands.

This also benefits Vehicle Excise Duty payments, with each of the hybrids falling into the lowest tax band (excluding the £0 zero-emission one) for first-year payments, before reverting to the typical yearly payment. Unfortunately, because they start above £40,000, you can’t avoid the luxury car tax for years two to six unless you get a low-spec diesel.

Safety and security

The latest DS 7 has not been tested by Euro NCAP, but it’s worth noting that the outgoing DS 7 Crossback model was given the full five stars, scoring particularly well for occupant protection. Given the similarities with the new model, it’s likely this score will be repeated despite slightly stricter testing.

You get the Advanced Safety Pack as standard, which includes blind spot detection, traffic sign recognition and driver attention alert. Opera models add DS Driver Assist, which brings adaptive cruise control and lane-assist to make long journeys easier. Top-spec versions also add night vision, which can spot animals, pedestrians and other obstacles well in advance of you seeing them, flashing up a warning on the dashboard.

Reliability and problems

DS is still a relatively small brand, so specific data on its reliability is difficult to come by. However, it’s part of the Stellantis group and shares parts with many cars including the Peugeot 3008 and Citroen C5 Aircross. There have been no major recurring issues with these cars, which is reassuring for the DS 7.

Each DS model comes with a three-year warranty, which includes unlimited mileage for the first two years and 60,000 miles for the third year, as well as DS Assistance, a 24/7 breakdown service.

Buy or lease the DS 7 E-Tense at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £46,700 - £59,300 Avg. Carwow saving £2,575 off RRP
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