The DS 7 Crossback is an alternative to German SUVs such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. It’s stylish, practical and fun to drive, but the infotainment may send you loopy and you can’t have seven seats
Judging the DS against posh German cars might sound a touch unrealistic, but you only have to get behind its steering wheel to realise the comparison has been earned – the Crossback is a really rather nice place to sit.
There’s a variety of interior finishes to choose from, but you’re best off with a Performance Line model. The suede-like Alcantara on the dashboard, doors and seats gives fancy German models a serious run for their money.
All but the entry-level Elegance cars come with a 12.3-inch digital instrument binnacle and a 12-inch central infotainment screen that has clear and colourful graphics. The latter can display a multitude of things including a huge sat-nav display that makes it a piece of cake to follow directions. However, it’s not the easiest system to use, and the DS could learn a thing or two from the more intuitive infotainment systems in BMWs and Audis.
Take the buttons under the DS 7’s infotainment screen, for example. They are touch-sensitive, but they don’t give you any feedback, so it’s hard to know if you’ve pressed them correctly. Meanwhile, the car’s various safety systems beep incessantly at you, with no obvious way to turn them off.
It’s as if the DS 7 was designed at Paris Fashion Week – its interior’s cool mix of shapes and materials make it look and feel like no other car for the price
The DS 7 does the basic stuff pretty well, though. Getting a clear view of the big driver’s display is easy because you get a height-adjustable driver’s seat (and passenger seat) and a steering wheel that adjusts for reach and height. Both front seats also get adjustable lumbar support to see off backache on long journeys.
The news is just as good for your tall passengers in the back – they’ll have plenty of head and legroom, even if you and your front passenger are more than six-feet tall. Prestige models and above go one step further, with electrically reclining rear seats – just like you’ll get in a luxurious saloon such as the Mercedes S-Class. Better still, the DS’ boot is bigger than you’ll get in an S-Class and larger than the ones in direct competitors such as the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC.
The DS 7 Crossback also gets surprisingly close to those cars when it comes to driving. Direct steering and comfortable suspension that irons out most bumps make it easy to drive for long periods, while the raised driving position gives you a decent view of your surroundings in town.
To make the DS more comfortable, it’s worth choosing the £1,000 active-scan suspension, which monitors the road ahead for bumps and primes the car accordingly. You should also consider the laminated front and rear windows (up to £200) that keep out the wind noise that’s obvious at motorway speeds. On the upside, though, a huge list of standard safety equipment should keep you safe if you have a bump.
Engines range from a 130hp diesel to a 225hp petrol, but the pick is the 180hp diesel that’s cheap to run, but gives the DS a strong turn of speed, even when it’s fully loaded. It comes with a smooth-shifting, eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard, which takes the leg ache out of stop-start traffic.
In that specification, the DS 7 is a great all-rounder, and it deserves to be on your shopping list, because it’s a stylish, practical and fun-to-drive SUV that’s a genuine alternative to a BMW, Mercedes or Audi.
For more information on some alternative models, see our list of The top 10 best SUVs. Or, for more detailed and in-depth analysis of the DS 7 Crossback, read our interior, practicality, driving and specifications review sections over the following pages.