DS has unveiled its first car since the truly iconic original was launched in 1955, in Paris today.
FEB 28th 2017
DS Automobiles DS 7 SUV unveiled
Citroen began badging a few derivates as DS versions in the UK in 2014, but the DS 7 Crossback is the first stand-alone DS model for 62 years. And, quelle surprise, it's an SUV, which may disappoint some wishing for something more reminiscent of the inspirational Fifties model, but makes a great deal of fiscal sense for a marque keen to establish a foothold and sell some cars in the UK.
As Mini has done to such great effect, DS is hoping that that first, inimitable model will help establish an entire brand. And, as Mini has traded on its British heritage, so DS is trading very loudly on Paris as its home, cashing in on the French capital's associations with high culture and fashion. So the interior of the DS 7 Crossback is a cave of dark, jewel-like colours in oranges, reds, purples, silvers and golds. The leathers have optional patina finishes, there are watch-chain designs on the seats, metallic threading through fabrics and knurled metal finishes on the switches.
From the outside, the DS 7 Crossback looks very much like an Audi Q5, and in fact, Audi is the clear benchmark for DS, not in sales terms, but in the manner in which it has grown as a brand and positioned itself in the premium market.
The coup d'etat for the DS 7 Crossback is its headlights, which are a wonderful sign that the French flair that gave birth to the original DS, and its rotating headlights, is still alive and kicking. Three LED units, with their jewelled backs facing you, glow purple then spin 180 degrees to face outwards when you unlock the car. The three units can rotate up and down as well as side to side, a there are five different modes, including one for motorway driving, which extends the reach of the beam. After dark, a fourth, cornering light comes into play.
Another piece of technology that recalls the Fifties original is the suspension. Although not hydraulic, it's adaptive and clever – cameras scan the road for speed bumps or potholes and relay the data to the suspension which then adapts to minimise oscillation. We've tested that on the Mercedes-Maybach S600, but certainly not on a car which should start at about £30,000 when it goes on sale in the UK next January (orders are being taken from March 7th).
DS will be the first PSA Peugeot Citroen group brand to get the plug-in hybrid powertrain (300bhp from a 1.6 petrol engine and electric motor) and the first to get the group’s fully electric car; the hybrid arrives in 2019. Meanwhile, it's on offer with a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines from the group, and a new eight-speed automatic transmission.
Will DS take a noticeable chunk of sales from Land Rover's Evoque, or Audi's Q5? It doesn't seem likely in the UK but I wish it were so: Paris has long been home to so many high-end luxury brands; isn't it time for a new car marque to join the party?
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