DS 7 Crossback THP 225 Performance Line
There is no denying the DS 7 Crossback is a bit of a looker. In Performance Line guise it looks sleek yet poised. The THP 225 is a bit of a gem too, punching harder than you’d expect of a 1.6-litre engine. Unfortunately the standard suspension is abysmal. It manages to be overly firm yet wallowy at the same time. There is a solution however: the optional DS Scan suspension.
The DS 7 Crossback is built on the same platform as the Peugeot 3008 SUV, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at it.
DS models have always been more stylish than Citroen counterparts, and the DS 7 Corssback is no exception. In fact, it is the most stylish of them all.
Just look at it. Head on, the Performance Line is bold and imposing. The huge, gaping grille looks like it’s shouting at you. Matt black accents are a sporty contrast to the paint. The lights are a work of art: spinning round 180-degrees when you start the car to reveal triple ‘U’ shape LED daytime running lights.
To the side profile, 19-inch black and silver alloy wheels sit nicely in the arches. There is a 20-iinch option should you want something a little bigger. The chrome window surround tapers off at the back to a sharp point.
But it is, without question, the rear of the DS 7 Crossback that is the biggest success. The lights are the first thing to grab your attention. They feature a delightful 3D diamond pattern, creating a wonderfully-premium image at dusk.
Matt black accenting features once more, with the word ‘Crossback’ debossed in the centre. The bumper incorporates a diffuser, either side of which sits a large exhaust outlet.
The DS 7 Crossback has rounded edges to hide its sheer size. The result is a sleek, curvaceous design. It stands out in the supermarket car park. Finished in Absolute Red, you can’t help but catch your reflection as you drive past shop windows.
Open the door and step inside the DS 7 Crossback, and the stylishness continues. What immediately grabs you is the vast amount of alcantara that features in the cabin.
The seats are mostly alcantara, with leather accenting. The dashboard, door cards, and even the centre console is covered in the stuff, and it looks absolutely fantastic. It has a much sportier feel than leather, so putting it in the Performance Line was a smart move by DS.
Red and gold stitching matches the Performance Line badging, and brings a nice bit of contrast against the black leather, alcantara and plastic.
The DS 7 Crossback’s cabin has a distinct ‘cockpit’ feel to it. The centre console is loaded with switches that look like they could have come off a Boeing. The gear selector holds like a joystick. You aren’t sure whether you are selecting drive, or taking off.
In the centre of the dashboard you can’t help but notice the huge 12-inch HD touchscreen. It is a focal point for passengers; crystal clear and displaying anything from the satellite navigation to the climate control.
As the driver, you will be more focussed on the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. There are several different display modes, from minimalistic dials to a full-screen map.
The diamond shape is prominent in the design of the DS 7 Crossback. In addition to those on the front grille and rear lights, they feature on both digital screens, and even on front-door ambient lighting designs.
DS is a premium brand, and this shows in the materials and build quality throughout the cabin. The ambiance is good; it’s a nice place to be. Higher-spec models get even more style, with fancy clocks, quilted leather and even a leather-faced steering wheel centre.
Since the government did a complete U-turn and began demonising diesels, more and more manufactures are bringing exciting new petrol engines to the party.
Our test car featured the PureTech (PT)225 petrol engine. It may only be a 1.6-litre engine, but it packs an impressive 225PS and 300Nm of torque.
Currently the DS 7 Crossback is only available with front-wheel drive, but a four-wheel drive version may be added in the future. The PT225 is only available with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
For a large car the DS 7 Crossback certainly gets a shift on, sprinting from 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 141mph. It won’t give hot hatches a scare, but is nonetheless impressive considering the 1.6-litre capacity.
For a car that looks this premium, having power is essential. It creates an effortlessness behind the wheel, which furthers a car’s premium feel. The 8-speed auto helps in this regard. It also ensures motorway cruising is composed and competent.
There was one major annoyance with the gearbox however. Selecting manual mode activates paddles behind the steering wheel, which is a very engaging way to drive.
But then the instant you reach the rev limiter the computer takes over and changes up for you. The problem is that by this point you will have grabbed the upshift paddle, most likely a millisecond too late. So the car changes up again, and your momentum comes to a halt.
Because the PT225 revs so well, you want to explore the higher realms of the rev range. But you find yourself shouting in anger rather than excitement.
The DS 7 Crossback ‘Performance Line’ has the looks to justify its name. It also has the performance, silly gear-changing tendencies aside.
But what it doesn’t have, frankly, is the handling. Not even a little bit.
The problem lies entirely in the suspension set up. Because this is the Performance Line, the springs are stiffer. The bumpiness is really noticeable at low speeds, such that driving through town isn’t comfortable.
But this is completely at odds with the damping, with its soft rebound. Drive over a dip at speed, and you’ll still be bobbing up and down half a mile later.
I can see the dilemma faced by DS. This is a premium car, so it should be forgiving and absorb bumps. But it is sporty, so it should be firm and composed. The result is a horrendous compromise that achieves neither.
Thankfully, there is an answer: the optional DS Scan suspension. This system actively scans the road ahead and adjusts the suspension to best cope with it, taking into account how you are driving at the time.
With this system, drive modes feature adaptive damping, so you can choose comfort on the motorway and sport for a B-road blast. Why this isn’t standard on the Performance Line is beyond me. In fact, it is standard on all THP 225 models except the Performance Line. Madness.
Steering is nicely weighted, but lacks feel. This isn’t a huge deal, as it’s reasonably direct so you can point the DS 7 Crossback where you want it to go.
The front-wheel drive setup handles 225PS well, but a four-wheel drive version would be much more composed on a wet B-road.
With a small 1.6-litre engine under the bonnet, there should be a fuel-efficiency benefit. On paper it certainly looks that way, with combined fuel consumption of 47.9mpg sounding rather appealing.
The DS 7 Crossback comes with start/stop technology. The 8-speed gearbox is called ‘EAT8’ which stands for ‘Efficient Automatic Transmission’. A kerb weight of 1,425kg is lighter than you would expect for such a large vehicle.
And yet, in the real world we got nowhere near 47.9mpg. Don’t think we get a test car and drive everywhere with our right foot embedded into the carpet either. A lot of the miles we cover are standard, everyday driving.
To this day I can’t put my finger on why the economy was poor. The similar-engined Peugeot 308 GTi we tested recently fared much better, and that has 270PS on tap.
CO2 emissions of 134g/km mean that first year VED is £205. As the price of this particular DS 7 Crossback is less than £40,000 subsequent years’ road tax is the standard £140.
It would be interesting to test a diesel DS 7 Crossback to see if that could keep you away from the petrol station for longer. If not, then you better get used to fuel consumption in the low to mid 30s.
As a car to live with, you can do a lot worse than the DS 7 Crossback. I shall start with the biggest downside, which is the lack of 4WD. Crossovers which do not offer such are a bugbear of ours, and there are far too many cars guilty of it.
If what can be read on the internet is true (isn’t it always?!) then a 4WD version will be added to the range next year. Hopefully that will do the Crossback name some justice.
Another problem we noticed was the sensitivity of the brakes at low speeds. When creeping through town, it was a little difficult to slow down gently, which is annoying for passengers.
Visibility from the elevated driving position is good, and parking is made easier by the presence of front and rear parking sensors.
The boot space is an impressive 628 litres, which is more than enough for the dogs, the shopping, or the luggage for the family holiday. Thanks to a sizeable opening – the tailgate is actually bigger than the internal space – loading larger items is a doddle.
A spacious cabin welcomes all passengers to the DS 7 Crossback. Despite a sleek appearance and tapered rear end, both leg and head room in the back is plentiful. You can even recline the rear seats electrically, using a switch on the door, if you opt for the Electric Comfort Pack.
Up front, big sports seats and centre armrest provide comfort. The armrest opens to reveal a cavernous storage space, which is great considering the glove box is nigh-on pointless.
As the DS 7 Crossback is positioned as a premium vehicle, equipment matters. And with big-hitting style setting the bar, it was always going to be hard to match that with substance.
The Performance Line is only the second model up in the DS 7 Crossback range. So many of the goodies are missing, instead being standard on the more executive Prestige and Ultra Prestige models.
Standard on all DS 7 Crossback models are a host of safety features, which is reassuring in a family car. Lane Departure Warning, Driver Attention Warning, Active Safety Brake and Speed Limit Recognition Warning are all effective safety systems.
For convenience, there’s cruise control with speed limiter, keyless start, dual-zone air conditioning and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
Performance Line adds the DS Active LED Vision pack, which is a stunning array of LED lights that are as useful as they are stunning. The standard 8-inch touchscreen makes way for that enormous 2-inch unit, and a digital instrument cluster is introduced.
There are several options available on the DS 7 Crossback Performance Line. Most importantly is the DS Active Scan Suspension (£1,000), which will cure the atrocious handling characteristics.
You can add a DS Night Vision Pack (£1,400), opening panoramic roof (£1,200), and various other packs. A good option is the Advanced Safety Pack (£700) which bolsters the safety kit with blind-spot detection, lane keeping assist, driver attention alert and extended road sign recognition.
The Electric Comfort Pack (£950) includes the electric reclining backrest for the rear seats in addition to electric and heated front seats.
The bottom line is that the Performance Line feels like it’s missing some kit – where’s the rear-view camera for example – but can be lavished with pricy option packs to make up for it.
Value For Money
All things considered, the big question is whether the DS 7 Crossback represents a good buy. Is it what you’d consider a bargain, or is it hard to justify the price?
Well, let’s start with the base costs. The DS 7 Crossback range costs from £28,095 on the road, for the BlueHDi 130 Elegance. For the PT225 Performance Line, the starting price is £34,990. The most expensive model in the line-up, the BlueHDi 180 Ultra Prestige, starts at an eye-watering £43,580.
And then you come to the options. You can easily add £5,000 or more to the cost of your DS 7 Crossback. So for the PT225 Performance Line with a few toys, you’ll just about manage to keep it under £40,000.
That’s good, as it means you’ll keep your VED at £140. But it’s also bad, because it means you’ll have spent nearly £40,000 on a 2WD crossover. And you can’t ignore depreciation. How much of your £40,000 do you think you’ll get back in 3 or 5 years’ time?
There is no questioning the style of the DS 7 Crossback; it is a thing of beauty both inside and out. But that style is not matched by substance, and niggles stop this car feeling as premium as it looks.
Also frustrating is the price of optional extras. Some seem reasonable, others seem a bit pricey. The keyless entry with remote tailgate is a staggering £850, which is incredibly hard to justify. Yet you can upgrade to 20-inch alloy wheels for £450.
As you get to the £40,000 mark, there are a lot of competitors. Many will have 4WD, and many will have a specification which is as good, if not better, than the DS 7 Crossback. It doesn’t make life easy for itself that’s for sure.
Facts and Figures
|Engine||1.6-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Max power||225PS at 5,500rpm|
|Max torque||300Nm at 1,900rpm|
|Drivetrain||8-speed automatic gearbox, front-wheel drive|
|Fuel tank size||62 litres|
|Fuel consumption||47.9mpg, combined cycle|
|Towing capacity||1,550kg braked / 750kg unbraked|
|Luggage capacity||628 litres|
|NCAP rating||5 stars|
|Price as tested||£36,440|