PARIS – Peugeot and Citroen parent company PSA Group’s upmarket DS brand unveils its first SUV model intended for sale in global markets, the DS7.
Depicted in a series of official photographs issued ahead of the 5-seat CUV’s public premiere at the upcoming Geneva auto show, the DS7 Crossback is the first in what the Paris-based automaker confirms will be at least three new models from the fast-growing brand whose existing lineup includes the DS3, DS4 and DS5.
A compact SUV and luxury sedan are among the new models DS plans to add to its lineup within the next 18 months as it attempts to emulate the success of its German and Japanese premium-brand rivals. However, it says there are no immediate plans to offer the slightly smaller DS6 CUV outside China, where it is produced in a joint venture with Dongfeng and has been on sale since 2016.
The arrival of the DS7 Crossback, which offers the choice of gasoline or diesel engines as well as a gasoline-electric E-TENSE hybrid system, comes less than two years after PSA established DS as a dedicated brand separate from Citroen and with clear premium-market ambitions.
PSA is determined to muscle its way into the global premium-car market dominated by the likes of Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. This is reflected in the styling and technical features of the DS7 Crossback, which aims to challenge the likes of the similarly sized Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus RX and Mercedes GLC.
Stylistically, the DS7 Crossback attempts to match the upmarket SUV competition with a combination of distinctive Gallic design flair and heavy chrome detailing.
Up front is a bold grille similar in shape to that gracing the latest RX, while the rear carries hints of the first-generation Q5, with a clamshell-style wraparound tailgate incorporating the taillamps. Details of the new DS model’s dimensions remain under wraps, though the proportions mirror those of its midsized SUV rivals.
In a bid to add a dash of individuality to its new CUV, DS provides all but entry-level versions of the DS7 with new lighting technology from Italian specialist Magnetti Marelli. So-called active-LED headlamps pulse with a purple hue when the new model is unlocked as a welcoming gesture to the driver. With three powered elements, they also swivel in a further show of illuminatory theater upon startup.
The beam pattern of the headlamps is electronically controlled, with different illumination paths for urban, rural and highway driving. Three individual LED beams on either side can swivel to light up curves in a modern-day application of the directional headlamps introduced on the original Citroen DS in 1968.
Equally as effective are the taillamps, which incorporate 42 individual LEDs and use laser-etched lenses to provide a 3D visual effect when illuminated.
Commenting on the new lighting technology, the DS7 Crossback’s project leader, Xavier Savignon, says, “We are not at the same level as our premium class rivals in terms of profile, so we have to do something different.”
Inside is a high-quality interior conceived to offer more style, better technology and greater comfort than the competition. “We want to be perfect, yet we want to be different,” Savignon says. “Comfort is also important, and we want the interior to be as relaxing as your living room.”
DS says all its future models’ interiors will boast upmarket materials, as well as the potential for far greater customization than that offered by either the Citroen or Peugeot brands.
The DS7 Crossback offers a choice of five interior themes. Standout features include a 12-in. (30-cm) digital instrument display and standard 8-in. (20-cm) touchscreen infotainment display. Options include a larger 12-in. infotainment display, massaging seats, a semi-autonomous Connected Pilot driving system, a night-vision system capable of identifying pedestrians and animals, double-glazed windows, electrically adjustable rear seats and a Focal Electra audio system.
The DS7 Crossback, developed under the internal PSA codename X74, is based on the automaker’s EMP2 modular platform, which also underpins the Peugeot 308, Citroen C4 Picasso and Peugeot 408.
Developments brought to the steel monocoque structure include additional strengthening through the greater use of adhesive elements, something the DS brand claims has led to reduced vibration and improved refinement.
The new CUV will be sold with the choice of three turbocharged direct-injection gasoline and two turbocharged common-rail diesel engines when European sales launch later this year.
Already offered in other DS models, the gasoline units include a 1.2L 3-cyl. with 128 hp and a larger 1.6L making either 178 hp or 227 hp. Among the diesel engines, which go under the name BlueHDI, is a newly developed 1.5L producing the same 128 hp as the base gasoline unit and a more familiar 2.0L engine with 178 hp.
The base 1.2L gasoline and 1.5L diesel are mated to a standard 6-speed manual transmission. All other engines use an 8-speed automatic gearbox, which also is offered as an option on the 1.5L diesel.
Oddly, given the Crossback’s positioning, the combustion-engine models come only with front-wheel drive. DS officials say there are no immediate plans for gasoline- or diesel-powered DS7 models to receive all-wheel drive.
The only DS7 Crossback model to offer all-wheel drive is the range topping E-TENSE hybrid, which is due to arrive in showrooms in 2019. It combines the turbocharged 1.6L 4-cyl. gasoline engine with two electric motors, each producing 107 hp. Altogether, it offers a combined system output of 296 hp.