AUTO fashionistas have a new piece of haute couture in which to be seen with the arrival of the very stylish DS 7 Crossback.
This is an SUV with a difference, decked out to the highest order and just a hint of things to come from the now standalone French premium car brand.
Three years after its separation from Citroen, DS has become the luxury arm of the PSA group and the DS 7 Crossback is realistically the first all-new product to come on stream.
And what an entrance the DS 7 Crossback makes - a full-size SUV that is utterly sumptuous inside and out.
It's a car with a difference in so many ways, from the rotating LED light clusters which give the car a unique welcoming light display, to quilted leather upholstery and a double-screen instrument panel that looks like no other.
Then there's the technology which includes a highly effective night vision system, the latest safety aids and semi-autonomous cruise control.
The engines are almost inconsequential given that they are tried and tested in other Peugeot and Citroen models but there are two BlueHDi diesels and one PureTech petrol available.
The DS 7 Crossback sits on a development of the platform that underpins the award-winning Peugeot 3008 - the current European Car of the Year - and is some five inches longer.
That adds up to plenty of space inside with boot capacity ranging from 628 to 1,752 litres making the vehicle immensely practical.
But it is style, comfort and luxury touches which set the DS 7 Crossback apart and with prices ranging from £28,050 to £43,535 it will cut more dash than any Range Rover Evoque or SUVs from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
That's some status yet with accoutrements such as burnished leather trim across swathes of the cockpit, a B.R.M. analogue clock flipping out from the top of the dashboard on start up and jewel-like finishes to many of the controls it is opulence of the highest order.
The gemstone theme even goes as far as the design of the instrument readouts which themselves can be configured in five different graphic displays ahead of the driver.
There's also a multi-coloured ambient light display which bathes the cabin at night and illuminates the door pulls with a red LED matrix as the doors open.
Seldom has a car made its debut with such panache but the finesse is more than skin deep.
The night vision system for example is a first in this class of car and was an £1,100 extra on the DS 7 Crossbacks we have just sampled in high specification Prestige and Ultra Prestige trim.
It uses infra-red cameras to scan ahead of the vehicle and can spot pedestrians or animals more than two feet tall up to 100 metres ahead, highlighting potential hazards on a greyscale display in the instrument panel.
We tried it on a night drive through the streets of Windsor and in the Berkshire countryside and it was very effective, picking out people in the shadows and illuminating them on the display in a target-like green box.
For those in rural areas or where street lighting is poor it's a very useful safety aid - and the best we have tried, even when used in conjunction with the long range LED headlights which can project beams up to 300 metres ahead.
Cameras play a big part in the DS 7 Crossback's technological features and are used to recognise traffic signs and read the road ahead creating what DS calls Active Scan Suspension which identifies upcoming bumps and undulations, compensating for them automatically.
The result is an ultra-smooth ride setting a new standard in this class of SUV.
Four trim levels and four different interiors are available, each with their own theme ranging from an Alcantara trimmed cockpit in Performance Line specification to three finishes named after Parisian landmarks, Opera, Rivoli and Bastille.
All are of the highest order and genuinely luxurious - levels of refinement unexpected in this price range as is the 12-inch high definition touchscreen in the centre of the dash which is fitted to all but the entry level model.
The higher grade Prestige (priced from Â£34,435) and Ultra Prestige versions we tried featured leather-clad interiors in Rivoli and Opera finishes and were powered by the two diesel engines on offer - a 180bhp 2.0-litre mated to an eight speed automatic transmission in the Ultra Prestige and a PSA's new 1.5-litre 130bhp six speed manual.
With the DS 7 Crossback weighing in at the best part of 1.5 tonnes the smaller engine needs some working at low revs but is more than adequate once it gets up a head of steam.
Top speed is a claimed 121mph with 0 to 60 acceleration of 10.8 seconds and the bonus comes with fuel economy which officially is rated at 68.9mpg with emissions of 107g/km.
The 2.0-litre is much more composed and pulls the car handsomely with an acceleration time of 9.9 seconds and a maximum of 134mph.
On the fuel front it is rated at 57.6mpg with a CO2 figure of 128g/km and on similar drives we recorded an average of 34.8 to the gallon from the 2.0-litre while the 1.5 managed 44.7mpg.
That speaks for itself but the bigger engine suited the car to a tee. They will be joined by a 1.6-litre 225bhp PureTech petrol automatic which will be priced from £34,985 while next year the DS 7 Crossback range will be expanded to include a 4x4 plug-in hybrid which will cost from around £50,000.
In one fell swoop the Crossback propels DS from a line up of upmarket models based on Citroens to a brand with one of the finest SUVs on the market - a car which is almost as revolutionary as the original of the 1950s from which it takes its name.