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GALLIC CHARM (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
If you want a premium mid-sized SUV in the current market, you're not short of choice. But there's nothing quite like this, the DS 7. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at the latest version.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 68
As the DS brand points out, beyond the motor industry, three of the world's top five luxury brands are French. Why shouldn't Gallic style be equally desirable when it comes to cars? Perhaps it can be with this one, the DS 7, here usefully improved. This upper mid-sized Crossover was the first of the company's very own designs and it's still appealing for the right kind of customer.
Backgroundword count: 201
Back in 2017, the DS brand brought us its first uniquely-designed car, the DS 7 Crossback. Under its skin lay much that was shared with mid-sized Peugeots and Citroens, but it was all covered with a thick sheen of Gallic gloss that allowed this car to represent a refreshing alternative to the Teutonic ambiance that tends to dominate amongst premium mid-sized SUV models of this sort. There were a few signs of classic DS innovation here too. Given the marque's heritage in pioneering suspension technology, it was appropriate that the highlight from launch was a camera-driven active damping system that set new standards in this sector, recognising bumps and road undulations before you even reach them. Features like adaptive headlights and a 'DS Connected Pilot' package with 'level 2' autonomous driving were more familiar to buyers looking at the latest models of this kind, but the DS 7 Crossback aimed to set itself apart with a uniquely sumptuous, tactile interior. The idea was to bring a bit of Louis Vuitton and Chanel to the mid-sized premium segment. That's also the idea with this updated model, which has lost the 'Crossback' moniker and is just called 'DS 7'. Let's check it out.
Driving Experienceword count: 343
Nothing major's gone on in terms of changing the dynamic engineering on offer here. Instead, DS has concentrated on broadening its 'E-TENSE'-branded Plug-in Hybrid powerplant line-up, relinquishing all the other previous conventional unelectrified units, save for an ill-promoted 1.5-litre BlueHDi 130hp diesel at the bottom of the range. The E-TENSE options start with a front-driven 225hp model. Beyond that, your DS 7 E-TENSE will be of the AWD sort that supplements the PHEV system's 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor on the rear axle, as well as one at the front. In the E-TENSE 4x4 300 variant we tried, that means a total system output of 296hp and an EV range from the now-larger 14.2kWh battery of 42 miles. The new top DS Performance-fettled flagship model, the E-TENSE 4x4 360, is similarly engineered but offers 355hp and a 36 mile EV range, plus lowered suspension, wider tracks and bigger brakes. As with the original version of this car, the quality of ride on offer isn't quite as serene as you'd hope it might be from a brand founded on last-century history of tackling uneven surfaces with typical Gallic nonchalance. Even with the 'DS Active Scan' system on top models like the one we're trying here (a system which uses a forward-facing camera to anticipate bumps before you reach them), the low-speed ride can be fidgety, though with the system fitted, you do float over speed humps rather pleasingly. However you specify it, this Gallic model is at its best when you're wafting along and enjoying its more relaxed approach to life as the mandatory 8-speed EAT8 automatic transmission slurs its way smoothly through its various ratios. You can't ever set it to stick in the gear you want, but if haste really is required, it can get with the programme and play its part in propelling your DS 7 along at a decent lick. All DS 7 E-TENSE models get selectable 'Sport', 'Hybrid' and 'Electric' drive modes - with an extra '4WD' setting if your chosen variant has a rear axle motor.
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Category: Crossover or SUV 4x4s
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