DS brims with flair of France
Full of Gallic style, the new DS 7 demands attention, but can it compete in the crowded SUV market, asks Geraldine Herbert
In a market where safety and efficiency dictate car design and form as much as brand identity, it's refreshing to know some are daring to be different. One of the most unique car-makers is DS.
It's been almost 10 years since its first model appeared on our streets, produced under French car-maker Citroen. In 2014 it was launched as a standalone brand and the range today includes the funky DS 3 and DS 4 hatch, and the quirky DS 5.
Now the French car-maker is introducing the distinctive DS 7, the first model designed from the ground up as a DS.
The new crossover will be sold from designated DS dealerships, of which there is currently one - DS Airside in Swords, Dublin.
Speaking at the Crossover's arrival in Ireland, Pat Ryan, DS Ireland's managing director, said: "The DS 7 Crossback is a game-changer for the DS brand here in Ireland. With its sophisticated styling and a frugal engine line-up, customers will be treated to a premium SUV at a pleasant price. Our five-year unlimited mileage warranty and roadside assistance is a first for the premium segment also and enhances our appeal further."
And a game-changer it will need to be to take on established German rivals such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes among others in the premium market. To date, luxury French cars in Ireland have been about as successful as fire logs in Saudi.
The DS 7 is certainly eye-catching. Outside, a diamond-effect grille, horizontal chrome DS Wings and LED rotating headlamps create an elegant, sweeping line, while inside the DS 7 comes with a host of head-turning design features that aim to give it a fighting chance in this competitive market. It's also a practical family car with plenty of storage space and cubby holes throughout and a boot space of 555 litres.
Four engines are offered: 130hp and 180hp petrol engines and a 130hp and 180hp diesel. An 8-speed automatic gearbox is available from launch. A Plug-in Hybrid petrol-Electric Vehicle (PHEV) 'E- Tense 4X4', which features a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder PureTech petrol engine, will arrive early in 2020. The claimed combined fuel consumption figure is around 2.2 litres per 100km (WLTP), while CO2 emissions is below 49g/km.
On the road, the DS 7 rides smoothly and is comfortable; it is not as engaging as you might hope, but as a family SUV it will happily do all you ask of it.
A starting price of €36,000 compares well with rivals such as BMW X1 (€39,450), Audi Q3 (€38,600), Jaguar E-Pace (€38,495), Volvo XC40 (€36,850), Land Rover Evoque (€39,450) and the UX (€40,200), due next month from Lexus. There are four trim levels: 'Elegance', 'Performance Line', 'Prestige' and 'Ultra Prestige' to choose from.
If the devil is in the detail, then the DS 7 Crossback is a style statement that brings something new to the premium SUV sector and delivers on its 'Different Spirit' promise.
But looks alone aren't enough, so whether you'll want one depends more on DS establishing itself as a premium car-maker - only time will tell if it has fully shaken off the Citroen badge.