Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The DS 7 range starts with the 128bhp 1.5-litre diesel (badged BlueHDi 130) and three plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). The most powerful PHEV, the E-Tense 4x4 360, pairs a 197bhp petrol engine with two electric motors for an impressive total output of 350bhp. There are also more moderately powered E-Tense 4x4 300 and E-Tense 225 models available. Those two will be more suitable for drivers of company cars.
For those people, we should start with what will be the volume seller, the E-Tense 225. Its 8.9sec 0-62mph acceleration time is more than acceptable in day-to-day driving – more so than the 130 BlueHDi’s pedestrian 10.7sec time.
The 300 and 360 are much better in this regard, and are far more rapid as a result, with 0-62mph acceleration times of 5.9sec and 5.6sec respectively. The downside is that neither model manages to blend the two power sources (petrol and electric) together convincingly, and can’t match the seamless way the Lexus NX 450h gets down the road. The diesel, while slow, is far smoother getting up to speed, and is a fine motorway cruiser.
Indeed, it's on motorways that the DS 7 feels most at home, and it's not a vehicle for tackling fast, twisting roads, where the Audi Q3 and BMW X1 feel far more composed. The steering feels accurate for this sort of vehicle and the weighting is consistent enough for you to point it where you want to go, but a mid-corner bump and the gearbox’s annoying habit of changing down at inappropriate moments upset the DS 7’s composure. It’s a shame because grip levels are perfectly acceptable, and the car hangs on gamely even if you’re a bit ham-fisted.
Ultimate handling is not, of course, what a large SUV like the DS 7 is designed for – comfort is. To this end, all the PHEV versions come with Active Scan suspension, which uses a camera to read the road's surface and adjust the suspension to suit when Comfort mode is engaged.
Does Active Scan work? Well the end result is more supple than the BMW X1 M Sport or an Audi Q3 S Line with big alloy wheels, but potholes at low speeds tend to be quite jarring on DS 7's with 21in wheels. The 19in ones fitted to lower spec models help to take the edge off a little. The smaller wheels also improve the motorway ride, which on the whole is fairly settled, while bigger wheeled cars have an irritating fidget to them (something the NX manages to avoid).