BY BRIAN BYRNE
THE French DS Automobiles brand has had a somewhat chequered career so far. Originally a premium sub-brand to Citroen in 2010, it was spun off as a separate brand five years later. In Ireland, with chopping and changing of distributorship, the focus and visibility kind of fell off the edge.
Now, recently bedded into the very capable and experienced management in Ireland of the Gowan Group, DS is likely to become much more in contention, especially as new models like the recently-launched DS 3, and upcoming seriously good-looking DS 4 and DS 9 cars reach our roads.
For this week, I’m looking again at the DS 7 Crossback which I reviewed first in 2019. I was of the ‘too soon to say’ mind about the prospects of the car and the brand achieving premium recognition, though the refinement of the diesel car then did please.
This time the reason for revisit is primarily the powertrain, as nothing else about the car has changed. That last is not a negative, though, as the DS 7 Crossback has ample visual presence. And I still very much like the DS logo, very distinctive and a regular instigator of questions and conversation.
I was iffy about the dull colour of the last one I reviewed too. This time I cannot say that, as the Byzantin Gold is nothing if not standout. Would I live with it? Well, actually, yes. And the black detailing in various elements sets it off in a good way.
It’s a big car, making no excuses for being so. Five full adults and all of their luggage will be easily carried, in considerable comfort and quiet. Stylistically there is a strong ‘diamond’ cue throughout, including in the instrumentation. A theme of glitz and high society that is a little in your face initially, but becomes pleasant quickly enough.
The powertrain this time is a plug-in hybrid based around a turbocharged direct injection petrol engine and electric motor. It is familiar from other cars in the Stellantis group, including the Peugeot 5008 to which the DS 7 is related. There’s a total output of 225hp which is quite punchy ... I had to learn not to be too enthusiastic with the accelerator. The transmission is that superb Aisin 8-speed automatic that is such a seamless joy in the auto genre.
To manage the PHEV part of this for best efficiency takes thought. The system offers a range of options, charging at home, public charge points, ‘saving’ electric power in a range of amounts for when its use is most appropriate, and boosting the battery charge while on long motorway runs ... which of course does cost in fuel use.
In my time with the car I took the opportunity to spend a few days away, and it proved to be a real good car for those long distances, and very manageable despite its size on smaller roads.
Though this DS 7 will soon be somewhat eclipsed by its upcoming smaller and larger siblings — they really do look very well — it is a good alternative in its own SUV luxury space as it is.
As for DS and the premium brand ambition. Maybe still a little too soon to tell? But I sense it’s getting there.
What I like: Refined drive and a touch of bling.