“Would it or wouldn’t it?” my niece asked of her father, my brother-in-law.READ MORE...
He shook his head. “No way,” he answered. “Not a chance.”
With those few words, the new DS 7 Crossback was condemned outright in the eyes of these casual observers.
Neil Lyndon drives the fashionable DS 7 and enjoys the ride
Any car whose boot is too small to swallow a bag of golf clubs on its trolley is beneath their contempt. They wouldn’t give the time of day to any car that couldn’t comfortably carry two such burdens.
It may be a partial view but the load space on the DS 7 is, truly, one of the most peculiar things about this new upmarket compact SUV. There is nothing quite like it in contemporary car design.
For its class, the DS 7 is quite a large car – longer, wider and taller than the Range Rover Evoque, Jaguar E-Pace or Volvo XC60 to which it is an ostensible rival – but its boot space (officially 555 litres) is weirdly confined. The long struts that support the raked rear end bulk into the boot space like the plumbing that is on display on the exterior of the Pompidou Centre in Paris. As a design effect, it’s vaguely reminiscent of the Panhard PL17 saloon of the 1960s – not an impression you might deliberately contrive for a boot. Looking at it – as I was with my relatives – leads you to ask the question “What’s the point of an SUV with an inadequate boot?”.
The DS 7 is not, however, a utilitarian item. It does not exist, primarily, to serve practical purposes. Instead, it has been contrived – as its boot illustrates – chiefly as a style or fashion object.
That’s why you will search in vain for the name of Citroen anywhere in or upon this car. In their efforts to detach the upmarket, premium DS brand from its parent company, the manufacturers have assiduously eliminated all mention of one of the most honoured of all names in automotive history.
Instead, you find the DS logo – something like a child’s sketch of a diving gannet – all over the body and, especially, the interior. It featured large on the Performance Line model we borrowed for a week, where it competed for attention with a wealth of stylish goodies – such as a mix of Nappa leather and Alcantara on the upholstery, a 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a rack of angular switchgear for the windows and vents which could have come out of a 1950s Studebaker. On the exterior, flash trims include a glossy black grille, 19-inch diamond cut alloys, LED headlights and 3D-effect tail lights.
A plug-in hybrid DS 7 is in the works, which will combine a one-litre petrol engine with two electric motors, producing 300 bhp and driving all four wheels. All the conventionally-powered DS 7s on offer are a two-wheel drive which makes this car almost as inadequate for my family’s purposes – living in the Scottish hills as we do – as it would be for my brother-in-law’s family.
On the road, however, the DS 7 defies its bulky appearance and belies the reputation of crossover SUVs. Like the Citroen C3 Aircross which has been enthusiastically reviewed here, the DS 7 is a far more entertaining and rewarding drive than you might expect. Dialling it into Sport mode is a bit of a mistake because it results in a lumpen ride and deadened steering but if you leave it in Comfort setting you get solid handling and fine cornering lines that can raise a smile of appreciation.
That might not cut much ice with golf-club man but, as we always say, you can’t always judge a car by its rear end.
Car reviewed: DS 7 Crossback Performance Line BlueHDi – On the road £36,380 model with options as tested £38,230 0-62mph 9.9 secs Top speed 134mph Fuel Economy combined 57.6mpg CO2 emissions 128g/km Engine 1997cc 4-cylinder turbo diesel EU6.2 Max Power Engine [email protected] Engine Torque [email protected] Transmission 8-speed automatic
Solid handling and fine cornering
A pretty flashy interior
Contemporary likeable design
Slightly small boot