2020 DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4 review: price, specs and release date

The DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4 is the latest SUV to jump on the plug-in hybrid bandwagon, but is it a good buy?...

2019 DS 7 E-Tense cornering

Priced from £47,725 | On sale Now

Do you like to have your cake, eat it, go back for seconds and still lose weight? If so, then a plug-in hybrid, such as the new DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4 you see here, could be right up your street.

That’s because despite being a large, four-wheel-drive SUV with a mighty 296bhp and a 0-62mph time of just 5.9sec, the E-Tense is capable of well over 200mpg in the official tests while emitting as little as 33g/km of CO2. For company car drivers, there’s the potential for some huge savings over a regular petrol or diesel SUV.

Like other plug-in hybrids, the E-Tense relies on electricity to achieve those figures. A 13.2kWh battery gives a claimed electric-only driving range of more than 30 miles and, once empty, takes around two hours to charge using a regular 7kW home charger or eight hours from a three-pin domestic socket.

It all sounds rather promising so far, but can the E-Tense beat the established alternative that is the Volvo XC60 T8 or the new Audi Q5 TFSIe?

2019 DS 7 E-Tense off-road

2020 DS 7 Crossback E Tense 4x4 driving

Assuming there's charge in the battery, the E-Tense defaults to electric-only mode when you fire it up. As you’d expect, this gives you almost silent running, and acceleration is pleasingly punchy at lower speeds. The E-Tense is good for up to 80mph on electricity, although you'll drain the battery quite rapidly at that kind of speed.

Thankfully, you can switch to a hybrid driving mode that mixes petrol and electric power. The good news is that this allows you to conserve the battery for some urban driving later on in your journey. The bad news is that the engine is rather uncouth.

The 197bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged unit sends vibrations coursing through the steering wheel, pedals and even the front seats when it fires into life. And while the eight-speed automatic gearbox is actually quite quick to pick the right gear if you need to accelerate hard suddenly, there’s then a noticeable pause before maximum acceleration arrives. This is the case whether you’re accelerating from a standstill or already on the move.

However, once the electric motors and engine have stopped squabbling and started to work together, acceleration is decently strong, if some way behind that of the Q5 55 TFSIe or XC90 T8.

But don’t think that because the E-Tense is quick that it’s fun to drive. It may get adaptive dampers that read the road ahead through a camera in the windscreen and change their behaviour accordingly, but there’s noticeable body lean even in their stiffest Sport mode, while the steering doesn't give you a great sense of connection with the front wheels. The Q5 TFSIe is much more agile and more enjoyable to drive, too.

But what about ride comfort? Well, choose Comfort mode and, on a smoothly surfaced motorway with a few wavy bits of asphalt, thing are pretty good. However, bigger undulations cause the E-Tense to pitch and wallow dramatically, while potholes and expansion joints send jolts through the interior.

You can get rid of some of that wallow by selecting Hybrid or Sport mode, but then you feel smaller surface imperfections all too readily. Once again, the Q5 TFSIe strikes a far better balance between ride comfort and handling.

2019 DS 7 E-Tense dash

2020 DS 7 Crossback E Tense 4x4 interior

Although most plug-in hybrids have to sacrifice a fair chunk of their boot space in order to accommodate batteries, that’s not the case with the E-Tense. Boot space unchanged over the regular 7 Crossback and the floor is still height-adjustable. There’s even a bit of underfloor storage for your charging cable.

Prestige models and above get electrically reclining rear seats, although they don’t slide back and forth and they split and fold in a 60/40 arrangement, rather than the more flexible 40/20/40 layout found in the Q5 TFSIe.

There's enough rear leg room for a six-footer to get comfortable in the E-Tense, but rear head room in our panoramic-roofed test car was tight.

In the front, there’s little to separate the E-Tense from a regular 7 Crossback in terms of the dashboard and displays. Yes, you get an embossed leather gear selector and some hybrid-specific displays for the infotainment system and digital instrument display behind the steering wheel, but that’s about it.

Let your fingers do the walking and you’ll find supple leather and squishy plastics sprinkled around, although the E-Tense doesn't feel as solidly constructed inside as the Q5 or XC60.

If you want to know more about the space on offer within the E-Tense and what the infotainment system is like, take a look at our full 7 Crossback review for all you need to know.

Next: 2020 DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4 verdict >

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