WITH the likes of Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough constantly warning of our calamitous impact on the planet, it is timely for French luxury brand DS to reach a notable milestone.
It recorded average fleet carbon dioxide emissions of just 79.9g/km in the first half of 2020 - making the company the only premium brand to meet the European Commission's current 95g/km emissions target.
Now I'm sure Greta would rather we travelled in something involving a sail than anything resembling internal combustion, but models including the DS 7 Crossback E-Tense I spent a week with have made the company a stand-out performer for those who need a luxury SUV, but want to be able to tell their kids they satisfied it with a relatively low carbon footprint.
The company has become the poster-boy among premium auto manufacturers for low emissions thanks to its electrification strategy with a move since 2019 to ensure models like the DS 7 Crossback are available with a range of plug-in powertrains.
Indeed the company, part of the PSA Group which also owns Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall, has committed to the target of offering only electrified powertrains by 2025 and boasts extensive EV experience in the Formula E racing championship with the DS Techeetah team.
And beneath all the green technology flaunted by DS 7 Crossback E Tense - allowing it to emit just 35g/km of CO2 and deliver up to a claimed maximum 235mpg if battery levels are kept fully charged - there is definitely a sports car ready to be unleashed.
Beneath the bonnet a 1.6-litre petrol engine lurks which in cahoots with an electric motor driving the rear wheels allows the £56,000 SUV to reach 62mph from a standing start in a shade under six seconds on the way to a claimed top speed just shy of 150mph. An eight-speed automatic transmission ensures mostly seamless gear changes.
The ride is smooth as silk thanks to an efficient suspension system while the handling is confidence inspiring with lots of grip in corners. There are different driving modes to suit your mood and the prevailing conditions - called Electric, Comfort, Hybrid, Sport and 4WD - which alter the way the car reacts. It can be driven in electric-only mode for 34 to 40 miles and takes less than two hours to fully charge from a 7.2kW home charger.
The price-tag for the top spec Ultra Prestige model may raise eyebrows for something that isn't German but as far as exterior and interior styling and equipment levels are concerned it is a quality package.
There are many nice touches with my favourite being the BRM clock which emerges from the top of the dashboard when the ignition button is pressed.
There is plenty of kerb presence guaranteed by 19-inch diamond cut alloy wheels, smart LED headlights, snazzy tail lamps plus E-Tense badging on the bonnet and tailgate. The rock-star feel continues with the privacy glass at the rear, a panoramic sunroof and a gloss black grille resplendent with DS logo.
The cabin is plush with quilted leather upholstery and powered heated seats that offer a massage on demand. A pleasant atmosphere is assured thanks to the dual-zone climate control while other nice touches include aluminium sport pedals and crystal roller controls. A hi-tech digital instrument display offers the driver a raft of information to choose from.
The kit list is extensive with a 12-inch touchscreen providing access to the digital radio and sat nav, while smartphone connectivity is assured via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is also wireless phone charging and Bluetooth.
When you finish playing with the many toys and want to load up the DS with luggage or shopping, you'll find the powered bootlid opens off the key fob to reveal 628 litres of storage space - rising to 1,752 litres with the split-folding rear seats dropped down.
A raft of safety features include an emergency braking system, driver attention warning, active blind spot detection, lots of airbags, front and rear parking sensors plus a reversing camera.