DS trips the light

fantastique

DS 7 Crossback, front, static
DS 7 Crossback, front, action
DS 7 Crossback, rear lights
DS 7 Crossback, interior
DS 7 Crossback, rear
DS 7 Crossback, boot
DS 7 Crossback, 2018, night vision, pedestrian
DS 7 Crossback, 2018, night vision, Windsor Castle
DS 7 Crossback, LED headlights

I HAVE a slight confession to make. Sometimes when I'm on a long journey at night and struggling with the boredom I play a game that I aptly call ‘identify that car by its tail lights' and it's been known to keep me amused for hours with all sorts of shapes and sizes on offer.

Now, that game has become more interesting with the introduction of the first all-new model since the DS marque went independent in 2014.

It's called the DS 7 Crossback, it's a five-door SUV and the illumination front and back is fantastic.

DS describes its rear lights as hypnotic 3D illuminating scales and it's difficult to disagree with a mesh of diamond shapes bonded together. At night, they look amazing and also have dynamic directional indicators.

Up front is pretty special too thanks to the DS Active LED Vision headlamps that emit a purple light when the car is unlocked before pivoting 180 degrees.

But don't be fooled into thinking it's all just a gimmick because the lights produce a sweeping beam that adapts according to road conditions and vehicle speed. And this, according to DS, is a first for the automotive world.

There are five modes called Parking, Town Beam, Country Beam, Motorway Beam and Adverse Weather. In addition, high beam and dynamic bending light complete the package.

The clever technology doesn't end there either because the car boasts a Night Vision feature. An infra-red camera is concealed within the grille and is able to detect pedestrians or animals up to 100 metres ahead. When something is spotted the driver is alerted via a warning on the dashboard prompting them to react accordingly.

These are a just a few of the features to discover on the DS 7 Crossback which is priced from £28,050 to £43,535. A plug-in hybrid model will be introduced next year priced from £50,000.

There's a choice of four richly-equipped trim levels called Elegance, Performance Line, Prestige and Ultra Prestige and the engine choice comes in the shape of two diesel and two petrol powertrains, plus manual or automatic gearboxes.

It has to be said the DS 7 Crossback looks a classy piece of kit and the brand has certainly moved away from its Citroen links of days gone by.

There is a diamond-effect grille housing the chrome DS emblem, horizontal chrome DS wings, a rippled bonnet and striking alloys - all features that give the car stand-out athletic appeal.

The interior is premium through and through with two 12-inch screens. The first is where systems such as the sat nav, multimedia and DS Connect functions are found. The second is a personalised screen behind the steering wheel. This is where the Night Vision set-up is displayed when activated.

There has certainly been an emphasis on the premium factor with a plethora of soft-touch materials, Nappa leather upholstery, clever adjustable ambient lighting features and plenty more besides.

Comfort levels are exceptionally good and some versions offer massaging seats which can be a plus factor on longer journeys. Leg, head and elbow space in the back is plentiful with ample room for a trio of adults.

The boot is also generously sized with a capacity of 628 litres - a limit that can be increased further with the rear seats dropped flat.

It's difficult not to get into the DS 7 Crossback without being wowed by the level of on-board technology and the elegant surroundings. We tested a couple of diesel-powered models and they both performed well.

Firstly the 1.5-litre 130hp model in Prestige trim with a six-speed manual gearbox. This car was priced at £34,435 (£37,685 with options) and could reach from 0-62mph in 10.8 seconds, maxed out at 121mph and, according to official figures, can deliver combined fuel economy of 68.9mpg with carbon emissions of 107g/km.

This particular DS 7 Crossback was an accomplished performer and offered plenty of agility in busy town centres yet had sufficient fire-power out on the open road. The advanced suspension system makes light work of bumpy road surfaces and the cabin is well insulated against noise intrusion.

The all-round visibility is excellent and my only real gripe was the over-complicated process of lowering the temperature via the touchscreen.

Next up was the 2.0-litre 180bhp model in Performance Line trim and featuring an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Priced at £36,335 (£38,285 with options), it could reach 62mph from a standing start in 9.9 seconds, maxed out at 134mph, delivered combined fuel efficiency of 57.6mpg with CO2 emissions of 128g/km.

This model felt more dynamic and responsive as it moved swiftly through the gears. There are varying driving modes to alter the car's dynamics and handling and once again, it was difficult to find any major criticisms of the car.

Admittedly, you can easily get caught up in all the somewhat pretentious naming rituals. For example, varying interior design grades are called ‘inspirations' and are, of course, inspired by great landmarks of Paris - the birth place of DS. There is DS Inspiration Bastille, DS Inspiration Rivoli, DS Inspiration Opera and even the clock is referred to as the B.R.M. R180 timepiece.

But that aside, the DS 7 Crossback is an attractive newcomer that oozes premium design features, is packed with innovative techno treats, is fun to drive and fairly competitively priced.

Yes, there are more dynamic competitors out there, but this is a very worthy contender for sales especially if someone is looking to steer clear of the German marques. And don't forget to look out for those tail lights.

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