DS Automobiles’ DS7 Esprit De Voyage 4x4 300: The stylish car that is still an enigma to potential buyers
Citroën's DSA luxury brand attracts visual attention but often solicits a nonplussed response.The DSA brand has been enigmatic and elusive, relying on style and mystique, with arty dancing D S sculptural lettering and not much else to inform the inquiring public.
The updated DS7 reviewed here has DS Automobiles written boldly across the tailgate. “Yeah. But what’s that?” demands the bystander, their mind unsullied by the minutiae of motoring brands and car bloggers and fatuous influencers.
Well, to be blunt, it’s something which will cost you at least £36,785 or from £447 a month on a four-year, 10,000 miles a year deal if you buy the entry model Performance Line 128bhp 1.5 litre diesel which should give you 50 miles a gallon and a range of well over 500 miles. Take a breath. Yes, diesel lives on. The 0-62mph time is 10.7 seconds, enlivened by lashings of torque and it will tow a 1.5 ton braked trailer so no trouble taking your horse or boat on manoeuvres.
Some of this is conjecture and some of it is my liking for the manner and ease of diesel motoring. Climate folk have put the brakes on such pleasures as we meander towards an uncertain and badly orchestrated electrified future in 2030.
Beyond that, some hybridised petrol electric engines will continue until 2035, a date so far away that much could change. They will be descendants of our DS7 test car, which has the familiar plug-in rechargeable battery system giving good economy and emissions, at their optimum only if the battery is kept charged. The 222bhp front wheel drive DS7 PHEV is rated at up to 250mpg with an electric range of 43 miles. The 0-62mph time is 8.9 seconds. Its CO2 emissions in that state are 26g/km compared with 139g for the rather dirtier diesel. It costs £44,190 which makes the diesel look a bargain at face value but if you keep the PHEV’s battery charged on a domestic plug or favourable commercial charger tariff it will be cheaper to run than the diesel though forget about getting 250 miles a gallon.
We had the more powerful 300 model with 4x4 traction. Running on self-mixing electric and petrol hybrid power we got 122mpg on our regular test route. This fell to 54mpg on the return run with an empty battery but the hybrid self-charges itself and showed around 40 per cent of the return trip had been with zero emissions. Set it against your payroll taxation and a 20 per cent tax payer will save around £140 a month, or for 40pc earners £280 a month. It’s an interesting tax giveaway.
Our revised DS7 is an update on the 2017 DS7 Crossback, a luxury blending of estate car and SUV. There are tweaks to the front and rear, a larger motor battery, They have the avant garde design details and body style which separate it from its more affordable Citroën and Peugeot siblings in the Stellantis mega-group of car makers. It is the brand juggling act which demarcates, say, Alfa Romeo from Maserati in Stellantis.
Separating DS7 from its Citroën family are high performance 4x4 versions with a battery adding traction at the back. They come with a 296bhp single motor and a 355bhp twin motor and 1.6 turbocharged petrol engines. The 0-62 sprint times drop below six seconds and economy take a tumble but remains high if you keep those batteries charged.
The entry Performance Line has 19-inch alloys, navigation, keyless operation, The + version adds black roof rails, parking bleepers, rear camera and heating tor the screen and front seats. The Rivoli includes leather and the cute oversized watch which flips out of the fascia when you press the ignition button. The Opera model is PHEV-only and brings a full length sunroof, power tailgate and more USB ports. La Premiers is on 21-inch wheels, which I imagine disrupt ride comfort in favour of showing off, night vision and so on and has the 355bhp power unit.
We were sent an intermediate 300 4x4 specification called Esprit de Voyage, an enchanting evocation in frigate grey to explore La belle continent. It is based on the Rivoli but without the diesel option. Ours had 296 bhp with 4x4 for £50,090. The 355bhp model would be an additional £5,000. Tasty details (vegans look away) include light grey quilted, diamond patterned soft Nappa leather with ventilation, a black trim pack for the arches, window frames and rack rails, dark alloys, a power liftback, and bespoke sills in the front doors. The monthly, four year, rental deal is £677 a month.
The DS family from DS3 through to DS9 is characterised by variations on using triangles, diamonds and lozenges on the trim. Much of it glitters bit it is neither silver nor precious stones, more usually lacquered non-metal surfaces. Minimalists may mutter but it is an effective way of avoiding the familiar.
There is plenty of tech stiff, including a camera which reads the road surface and readies the suspension. It does ride well until you meet unseen things which make the back end thwack loudly. The cushioned dampers on Citroëns are give a softer experience. Tyre noise is impressively quiet as is the mechanical refinement and general niceness of this posher sibling brand.
Ergonomics are mostly good but the screen menus are not intuitive, but owners have time to learn the ropes. The tight turning circle was welcome. There are large pockets in the doors. The load area is generous but because the rear seats do not fold flat there’s a tilt in the extended load deck.
DS7 Esprit De Voyage 4x4 300
Engine: 1.6 turbo petrol with electric motor assistance to the rear wheels.
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Top speed: 146mph
0-62mph: 5.9 seconds
Economy: 54mpg to 122mpg on test.
CO 2 emissions: tax rating 26 to 33 g/km.
Electric range: up to 42 miles