WITH no less than a third of all cars sold in Britain being SUVs and crossovers, it's getting more difficult to stand out from the crowd.
That's where the recently formed posh branch of Citroen - DS Automobiles - comes in with the DS 7 Crossback.
Unashamedly luxurious, with diamond-quilted leather seating, rotating BRM clock set in the dash and huge 12-inch touchscreen, the DS 7 puts together a good case for luring buyers away from the prestigious German marques that have dominated the premium sector.
Perhaps paradoxically it's not necessary for a top seller to be four-wheel-drive despite the blatant off-roader looks. In fact the majority of high volume models are driven just by their front wheels.
This is the case with the DS 7 Crossback which is more likely to be seen outside a Chlesea wine bar than scaling a muddy slope.
Power comes from the trusty 2.0-litre, four cylinder turbo diesel engine used across the Peugeot/Citroen range. Always economical and reasonably powerful, it isn't however the most refined oil burner around. And this element might be a shortfall in an otherwise premium package.
Under full acceleration even its considerable sound deadening can't disguise the agricultural throb of a diesel. Performance is more than competent without being exceptional - 62mph coming up in a shade under 10 seconds. Mid-range acceleration is strong enough too.
In keeping with the luxurious nature of the DS 7, eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, although there's a manual mode with steering paddles to allow more hands-on control for those who want it.
Historically Citroen has been a pathfinder in the area of magic carpet ride quality, right back to the Fifties when air suspension was pioneered. The DS 7 has the modern equivalent in the form of Active suspension which is governed by a road scanning camera detecting bumps and undulations and adjusting the ride accordingly via a multitude of sensors.
The system works well and the mid-sized five door smoothes out poor surfaces yet keeps body roll well in check.
Seating is sumptuous and comfortable with loads of front legroom. Electric adjustment means passengers can quickly find their optimum setting. Rear legroom isn't quite so generous but measures up to most of the opposition.
With external dimensions close to those of the Audi Q5 - and styling that's not entirely dissimilar - luggage space is generous. The hatchback boot holds 555 litres of cargo before the rear seats are folded.
Driven cautiously, most owners will squeeze close to 50 miles from a gallon of diesel. Press on and the result is closer to 40mpg - still creditable for a mid-size, comfortable high-rider.
It's an ambitious task to take on the established might of Mercedes, Audi and BMW not to mention Jaguar and Lexus in the territory they dominate.