FOR a car brand that effectively has been around only for four years to take on the might of the top three long established German premium luxury brands at their own game is quite a tall order.
But French car maker DS - the premium off-shoot of the Peugeot/Citroen empire - is doing exactly that going head-to-head with their own up-market four-wheel-drive Sports Utility Vehicle hybrid, the DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4.
With prices up around the £50,000 this newcomer is taking on well established rivals like BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz all-wheel-drive models at the luxury end of the 4x4 sector.
And the French are banking on some avant-garde technology to be a little different.
The DS 7 Crossback E-Tense is a plug-in hybrid using a 1.6-litre 197bhp PureTech turbo petrol engine combined with two electric motors - a 109bhp one that drives the front wheels via eight-speed automatic gearbox and a 110bhp motor at the rear axle.
All together it gives the DS 7 Crossback potential power of 295bhp and some 450 Nm of torque with the electricity coming from a 13.2kWh battery positioned underneath between the front and rear seats.
DS engineers claim that the car driven purely in electric mode from the battery power will drive for around 30 miles or so at up to 80mph and with zero emissions but when the petrol engine comes in to help the combined fuel consumption works out at 128.4mpg on the new WLTP drive cycle with just 33g/km emissions.
Performance figures are 0 to 60 in abrisk 5.9 seconds and a maximum of 149mph - not at all shabby for an SUV of such proportions - and there's an eight year/100,000 warranty.
There's a choice of three driving modes - full electric if the battery is fully charged, hybrid and sport for those drivers who prefer a bit more power and enjoyment.
With any fully electric/hybrid car drivers want to know how long it takes for the battery to be fully charged up and DS engineers claim that using a 7kW charging point it will take one hour and 45 minutes. Through a normal household three-pin plug it will take eight hours.
The other big question though is what's it like to drive?
As one would expect in full electric mode it's smooth, quiet and really refined, particularly at slow speeds crawling through busy town centre traffic but then push the accelerator pedal down and the combustion engine comes hurtling into work.
It's a shade noisy when accelerating really hard and you can feel some slight vibration feedback through the steering wheel but it's quite predictable and in no way as a misdemeanour and of course this version is heavier than the normal petrol only driven one.
This is due to the extra weight on board with two electric motors and a battery pack, totalling 400kg, but the overall ride is still supple, perhaps not quite as soft on the non-electric version but still comfortable enough with adaptive dampers doing its job on the more uneven road surfaces.
As for the genuine 4x4 aspects of this car it truly is impressive. Having spent over an hour trundling through water-filled deep farm tracks and water soaked plus thick mud woodland areas it coped magnificently.
It even passed the standing start on a muddy steep exercise without blinking and overall was in many ways more impressive off-road than on - but how many 4x4 drivers actually venture like this off-road frequently?
Inside, the cabin is well up to the luxury and comfort of its German rivals - the panoramic sunroof is a must because it does give a welcome airy feel to back seat passengers while the boot space of 555 litres is good too and about the best in class.
Depending on which of the three trim levels the quality, content is overall good with interior finish, nice leather or Alcantara layered dashboard stitching with a great high tech night vision camera on some models that shows up on the driver's display screen picking up straying pedestrians or cyclists.
Prices are comparable with the opposition in that the entry-level and expected biggest seller Performance Line coming in at £47,727 on-the-road, moving up to Prestige at £60,727 and the Ultra Prestige - driven here - at £56,075.