If you’re looking for a car whose interior has the ambience of a boutique hotel, then the DS 7 might be the answer.
A large sports utility intended to offer a different aesthetic to the techno-bling favoured by German rivals such as the Audi Q3, the DS7 majors on its French-ness. Its interior fixtures and fitting reflect this, with lots of diamond patterns found in everything from some of the switches to the digital instrument display.
Whether you think the end result looks chic or a little self-conscious is a matter of personal taste. An example of this is the dashboard clock which spins into view when the starter button is pressed. It has Art Deco-style graphics that sit oddly with the Modernist fixtures and fittings which surround it.
The car has actually been around for the past six years, and was previously known as the DS7 Crossback. The new model gets a re-styled front end with a bigger grill, slimmer headlamps and vertical sidelights that look a little like claw marks. Its rounded derriere’s lamp clusters have slimmed down too, and changes to the DS7’s brightwork are also intended to show that the car has been freshened up.
There are design tweaks inside too. There’s a large touch screen in the middle of the dash, which employs widgets and is fairly straightforward to navigate, although as is common with modern high end cars, the sheer quantity of functions is a little intimidating.
There are 1.5 litre diesel versions and plug-in hybrids which use 1.6 petrol engines and either one or two electric motors depending on whether the cars have four-wheel drive or not (the second electric motor drives the back wheels). If you want a petrol-only version, tough.
We drove an Opera E-TENSE 4x4 300 (there are five different trim levels and all of them have portentous, baffling names). This uses its electric motors to boost performance, or slip between petrol and battery power. The car can also be driven in electric only mode, DS claiming that this will provide a range of around 43 miles, although in our hands the juice ran out in around half that distance.
You can charge up the car while it’s on the move, or plug it in to a proper 7kw EV charger and wait around two hours for a top up. A domestic socket trickle charge will take about six and a half hours.
Criticisms? The front doors don’t have electric window switches; they’re located on the outer edges of the centre console. So is the parking brake switch, which brought the car to a juddering halt in a Tesco car park when accidentally pulled instead of the driver’s window switch, which sits directly below it.
The brakes themselves are strong, but the pedal initially feels a bit spongy, requiring a definite shove, at which point they tend to grab, bringing the DS7 to a sometimes less-than-smooth stop.
This hefty car has few sporting pretentions, but it’s still a quick thing, reaching 60 mph in 5.9 Seconds and is capable of 146mph.
The fashion for low profile tyres and stiff springing means that some of the DS7’s rivals have rather unyielding rides. Its suspension, which has three settings, is firm but generally not jarring. On 4x4 versions the suspension is controlled by a computer with a camera to scan the road surface for imperfections, tweaking the ride stiffness to accommodate them.
For such a big, bulky thing, the car has nimble, rapid steering and goes round bends with more precision than you might expect.
Mechanical refinement is generally good too. In electric mode the car is virtually silent, and although its four cylinder 1.6 petrol engine sounds busy sometimes, it’s never intrusive and the DS7 is a civilised companion, particularly on motorways, where things settle down, and apart from a little wind buffeting, serenity rules.
The upgraded headlamp cluster does its job well, illuminating undulating country lanes with a broad spread of white light.
This is an expensive car, and is therefore groaning with kit, ranging from rear seats with electric reclining functions to the expected suite of safety and driver aids. Things such as setting the interior temperature and getting the plug-in charging system to work can be controlled remotely by phone.
This is a thoroughly pleasant car, with plenty of space for people and their chattels. It’s generally nice to drive and dripping with the equipment designed for safety and convenience. Lacking the brand recognition of BMW and Mercedes, the DS7 is by nature a niche product, so not a car you will see every day, but for some buyers, that could be part of its appeal.
DS7 Opera E-TENSE 4x4 300
0-62mph: 5.9 seconds
Top speed: 146mph
CO2 emissions: 139 g/km