2018 DS 7 Crossback Puretech 225 review – price, specs and release date

The DS 7 Crossback gets a new petrol powerplant, but how does it compare with rivals that sip from the same pump?...

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Doug Revolta
22 May 2018

2018 DS 7 Crossback Puretech 225 review – price, specs and release date

Priced from £34,990 Release date On sale now

Quitting the band and making it solo is tough. Sir Paul McCartney has had a glittering career, but surely The Beatles was his greatest work? Jack White has released three solo albums, but The White Stripes was the pinnacle of his career, right? More importantly, what does this have to do with the DS 7 Crossback?

Well, in its early days, DS might have regretted going it alone after spinning off from the main Citroën brand in 2012, with some mediocre hatchbacks in its portfolio and far-from-encouraging initial sales. But with the 7 Crossback, released last year, DS is hoping that it finally has a hit on its hands.

In April, DS sales went up 70%, thanks to the 7 Crossback, even if this still admittedly leaves the brand a minnow in the grand scheme of things. But while DS is tiny compared with brands such as Audi, things are at least looking up. To build on the 7 Crossback’s early success, DS is now offering a petrol option to UK buyers.

The Puretech 225 engine makes its debut in the 7 Crossback but will be used in other DS, Citroën and Peugeot models in the future. It’s a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol unit with 223bhp, 221lb ft of torque, claimed fuel economy of 47.9mpg and CO2 output of 135g/km. A lower-powered Puretech 180 is coming by September.

The new engine puts the 7 Crossback up against petrol versions of other premium SUVs such as the Volvo XC60 and Audi Q5, but does this new option show that DS is moving in the right direction?

2018 DS 7 Crossback Puretech 225 review – price, specs and release date

2018 DS 7 Crossback 1.6 Puretech 225 on the road

DS says it puts refinement and comfort on the top of its priorities and the new engine goes well with this ethos. The Puretech 225 is pleasantly quiet on start-up, and at low revs it manages to remain very hushed. The only annoyance at low speeds is the hesitancy of the eight-speed gearbox, which leaves the car feeling a bit jerky when you pull away – something that’s especially noticeable in stop-start traffic. The spongey brake pedal – which has quite a lot of travel before anything happens – is also grabby, making it difficult to stop smoothly. But none of this hampers the experience too much on the move, with progress remaining pleasant and comfortable.

Try to pick up speed, though, and you’ll realise that although this is the fastest 7 Crossback, it’s still a heavy car and doesn’t feel particularly pacey. Initial pick-up in acceleration is laboured and it lacks the low-end pull on offer in the BlueHDi 180 diesel engine. It’s only when you get the petrol engine near the top of the rev range that it feels responsive and zingy in its performance. When you work it hard, it has quite an intrusive – if not entirely unpleasant – exhaust note, and there’s also a bit of vibration through the steering wheel and pedals.

On twisty roads, you’ll need to put the car in Sport mode using the manual paddle shifters on the steering wheel to get the best from it. But, even then, the dynamic shortfalls of the car – lots of body roll and uncommunicative steering – stop it from being an especially fun experience. The 7 Crossback is much more suited to slower, waftier driving, where the suspension does a good job of soaking up imperfections, although there is quite a lot more vertical movement than in rivals, so you will feel the car bobbing up and down over undulating surfaces. In relaxed conditions, this engine generally suits the 7 Crossback very well, offering useful and quiet performance.

Compared with the XC60 T5 and Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI petrol models, the 7 Crossback is slower but cleaner and more economical. The Q5 has a lovely petrol engine, though, that offers smooth and flexible performance and is generally a more rounded car. It’s also worth remembering that while the XC60 and Q5 come with four-wheel drive as standard, you can only get the 7 Crossback with front-wheel drive.

2018 DS 7 Crossback Puretech 225 review – price, specs and release date

2018 DS 7 Crossback 1.6 Puretech 225 interior

While DS’ self-proclaimed 'avant-garde' spirit is largely lacking from the driving experience, the interior does at least offer some outlandish French panache. It’s very different from the prosaic German interiors dominating the class that look nice and work well, but do little to stir the soul.

The dashboard on the 7 Crossback is dominated by a large infotainment system that might look the part but is infuriatingly laggy and complicated to interact with. Audi and Volvo offer far superior infotainment solutions.

Space in the back is generous, with rear passengers able to stretch out and be comfortable even on long journeys, but the boot is a tad poky compared with those of rivals. You can find out more details about the interior by looking at our four-point review.

Next: 2018 DS 7 Crossback 1.6 Puretech 225 verdict >