Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto-Trader, looks at DS-Automobiles new plug-in hybrid SUV...
We’ve talked about DS before, when we reviewed the DS3. In essence, this little French premium brand celebrates all things Parisian with its styling: even its trim levels are named after areas of the city, and colours are the deep plush tones of burgundies, oranges and metallic hues. The DS 7 E-tense is a large SUV with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
DS models aren’t cheap: underneath the skin is Citroen architecture but DS layers the leather and high-quality plastics on top of that, and redesigns the seats and buttons to offer a far plusher cabin. The DS 7 E-Tense starts at £56,075, and our model came in at £58,920. Scout around for decent monthly finance deals but you’ll be looking at about £400-£500 a month with a minimal deposit. Annual road tax is £145 and it sits in insurance group 39E.
Don’t forget that in order to keep running costs as low as possible you’ll need to be disciplined about recharging.
This is the DS 7’s strong point. Our test car was black, with black surrounds, and looked the business. Plenty of passers-by stared, wondering what make it was, with its fancy headlights and streaking rear lights. When you unlock the car, the front individual LED lights swivel 180 degrees before they light up, which is a neat trick that will draw gasps from onlookers.
Inside, our seats were clad in black nappa leather in DS’s famous watch-strap design, with chunky strips interwoven, which looks excellent. The buttons and graphics all carry the brand’s diamond shape – while it works for the graphics, it’s overwhelming for the buttons and switches.
Unfortunately for DS, it is saddled with the Peugeot/Citroen/Vauxhall infotainment system, which is truly awful, and about 10 years behind the times. The satnav simply doesn’t work: there are few distinguishable features or named roads or information about traffic conditions – the screen is just a pattern of straggly lines to denote roads.
The DAB and phone settings are better but none of the graphics are very pleasing. Yo do get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless charging for a smartphone and two USB sockets in the back, which isn’t bad.
Again, DS excels here. Citroen is renowned for building comfy cars, so the DS 7 starts with a good solid base and builds from there. It’s a large, wide SUV but with only five seats there is plenty of room for tall adults and good visibility all round. The car is soft and quiet on motorways, and the driving position is very user-friendly.
Our car had dark tinted rear windows and heated and massaging front seats. Even the rear seats recline electrically and there’s a rear arm rest, too. The boot floor has two levels and a chrome lip and plenty of space for all manner of stuff.
The “E-Tense” label denotes the electrified part, and the DS 7 is the first DS car to offer plug-in hybrid technology. There’s a 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 13.2kWh battery, driving power to all four wheels. The combined power output is 300 horsepower, which means 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds via an 8-speed automatic gearbox – pretty rapid for a large SUV. The battery takes one hour and 45 minutes to charge and is good for at least 30 miles of electric motoring – 35 miles if you’re lucky, which is excellent.