French automaker’s attempt to woo the highly competitive Hybrid SUV segment

DS has been trying hard to give stiff competition to the German trio since its inception three years back. Despite having some quality vehicles like the DS3, DS4, and DS5, to name a few, the PSA Group marque has yet to announce itself as a serious threat to the rivals. In a valiant effort yet again, DS introduces the DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4 – its first plug-in hybrid offering. Does this crossover have enough to stare down the German bullies?

Exterior

2019 Citroen DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4
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At first glance, you’ll be impressed. The DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4 is a beautiful SUV, with nice shades on offer.

The front looks intimidating with the DS logo slapped on the black mesh grille. The headlights get an LED set-up and are aligned nicely with the grille. Fog light housings are at the bottom on either end, which gives a good throw on the road. The daytime running lights are placed vertically and complement the overall look of the fascia very well.

The profile of the car is neutral, with no extra shenanigans whatsoever. Wheel arches get plastic cladding on the edges and fit the 19-inch wheels nicely. The alloys get a fancy 10-spoke design finished in chrome. I would have preferred black or gunmetal, though. However, the glasshouse area is inadequate. With a black interior, you are bound to feel claustrophobic. The sloping roof at the rear doesn’t help either. There is a panoramic sunroof which offers a little consolation.

The rear of the DS 7 Crossback E-Tense is round. This makes the car look short and stout from behind. The crossover gets two rectangular exhaust pipe outlets and a skid plate at the bottom. The taillights have an interesting detail inside them, with chrome treatment on the edges. Personally, I think the chrome bits are a little too much on the car. Do we still live in an era where chrome is synonymous with luxury?

Interior

2019 Citroen DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4 High Resolution Interior
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Note: 2018 DS 7 Crossback pictured here.
Step inside the cabin, and a plush layout will greet you. The DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4 is identical to its regular counterpart.

The touchscreen infotainment system gets all the bells and whistles, like Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, navigation, rearview camera, etc. That said, even though the touchscreen sits flush, it looks "stuck" on the console, rather than integrated into it. Below that is a sexy gear lever with other basic essentials, like cupholders. The digital instrument panel is bright and visible even under the bright sun thanks to the cowl over it.

Cabin space is plentiful and will keep all the occupants happy. If I had to pick one con, it would be the headroom at the rear. The sloping roof eats into the headroom, making it tougher for taller folks. The seats get enough bolstering and hold you in well. However, the armrest and gearbox console is a little too wide. This ends up limiting the legroom for both the driver and the passenger.

Cargo space is no concern as well. A flat-bottom steering wheel gets thumb-length controls. But the classiest thing amidst all this technology and sophistication is the simple analog clock in between the front A/C vents!

Drivetrain & Performance

2019 Citroen DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4
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Under the hood of the DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4 is a turbocharged 1.6-liter gas engine that produces 200 horses. This is mated to an eight-speed transmission system, as well as an electric motor that generates 109 horsepower. A second electric motor is connected only to the rear axle which also produces 109 ponies.

This engine offers a combined maximum deployment of 300 horses and 332 pound-feet of torque.

I’m a firm believer of "no replacement for displacement," so the specs look weak to me. But performance wise, the crossover is quick and agile, thanks to the direct drive from the motors to the wheels. The DS 7 Crossback E-Tense can go from standstill to 62mph in 6.5 seconds. In all-electric mode, the car tops out at 83 mph, and in pure gasoline form, it reaches a high of 136 mph.

The crossover comes packed with a 13-kWh hour battery, which is placed under the rear bench. The clever placement means that neither the trunk nor the cabin space is compromised. The left rear wing holds the charging port.

Despite providing a battery that has 50 percent more capacity than most other PHEVs out there, it missed out on offering rapid charging. It can be charged in two hours with a 6.6 kW charger using a wall-mounted terminal (32A), four hours on a 14A "Green Up" plug, or eight hours with a traditional socket. The batteries add 550 pounds to the curb weight, but the DS 7Crossback E-Tense is still quick off the mark.

The crossover offers several different drive modes to choose from. These include Zero emission, which runs purely on electric mode. On a full charge, it can run for 31 miles. This also happens to be the default mode. Then there’s Sports, which combines both the motors to churn out maximum power. Hybrid mode is for max fuel efficiency, and the car acts like a slouch. As per the specs, the emissions are under 50 g/km. Finally, 4WD mode makes for maximum traction in all road conditions.

2019 Citroen DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4
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Apart from these four modes, there’s an additional E-Save mode which keeps a small amount of charge in reserve for the last few miles of the journey.

Also, the E-Tense used regenerative braking, wherein the power is regenerated everytime the car decelerates. The combined fuel consumption is rated at an insane 128 mpg according to WLTP. This is definitely going to be radically different in real-world conditions. We’ll have to wait for the first drive to confirm this.

Pricing

2019 Citroen DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4
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The DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4 is expected to have a starting price of $65,000.

Competition

Acura MDX Hybrid

2017 - 2018 Acura MDX
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This SUV is perhaps DS 7 Crossback E-Tense’s biggest rival. The MDX Hybrid runs on a 3.0-liter V-6 engine that produces a combined output of 321 horses and 289 pound-feet of torque. It also gets four different driving modes, but is slightly faster than its French rival, going from 0 to 62 mph in six seconds. Despite praise for its driving dynamics and all-roundedness as an SUV, the MDX Hybrid loses out on the one thing people look for – fuel economy. Delivering 27 mpg is not a feat to be proud of, and that is one of the biggest reasons for the MDX Hybrid to not be very successful. The Acura MDX Hybrid retails at $60,000.

Read our full review of the 2017 - 2018 Acura MDX.

Volvo XC60 T8 Plug-In

2018 Volvo XC60 High Resolution Exterior
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Known to be the brand which does not concentrate on power, Volvo has broken that image with this SUV. The SUV features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a turbocharger, supercharger, and two electric motors to produce a combined power output of 400 ponies and 472 pound-feet of torque. This lets the car zoom to 62 mph in a mere 4.9 seconds. But how often would you get the adrenaline rush to zip the car? What you need is a car pacing itself from the word "Go," and despite all these wow-worthy figures, this SUV suffers from turbo lag! The powertrain has an uneven response and is not a daily driver’s car. However, in terms of the interior and technology, it is arguably the best-in-class. Cabin space and cargo space is impressive, while the EV range is rated at 18 miles, which isn’t that bad. Pricing starts at $55,000.

Read our full review of the 2018 Volvo XC60.

Final Thoughts

2019 Citroen DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4
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To put things into perspective, the exterior is good, but may not appeal to everyone. The interior is impressive, but the XC60 T8 Hybrid is better. Performance-wise, the real-world figures are still unknown. All in all, the DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4 is not a winner in any individual aspect.

However, none of it is a deal-breaker.

If you are looking for a vehicle that is a perfect blend of all the key aspects, the DS 7 Crossback E-Tense should be your pick.

We’ve speculated the price to be around $65,000, and if DS decides to put a bigger tag, it will be dangerously close to the Tesla Model X’s territory. You don’t take a shot at the king of the jungle with your first move, DS. So, price the car around $55,000 to $60,000, and you’ll be enjoying your share of the pie very soon.

  • Leave it
    • Doesn’t excel in any individual aspect
    • Headroom and legroom not on par with the rivals
    • Rather go for a Volvo, or even the base Tesla Model X. DS’ brand value cannot afford to command a premium price

Further Reading

2018 DS 7 Crossback High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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Read our full review on the 2018 DS 7 Crossback.

2016 Citroen DS 4 Crossback
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Read our full review on the 2016 DS 4 Crossback.

By offering a high-performance hybrid in the Premium C SUV segment with the DS7CROSSBACK, DSAutomobiles confirms to be at the cutting edge of technology.

The high standard of French expertise has produced a highly-versatile and capable vehicle DS7CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4x4 with 300hp and a torque of 450Nm, four-wheel drive, a 50 kilometre all-electric range (WLTP standard), and energy recovery during braking or deceleration.

Starting with the DS 7 CROSSBACK, all of new DS Automobiles’ models will be electrified versions.

From boldness comes excellence. DS Automobiles has become the first carmaker to offer a high-performance petrol-electric hybrid technology in the Premium C SUV segment.

The expanding DS 7 CROSSBACK range, which has been on sale since beginning 2018, is venturing into new territory with the innovative DS 7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4x4 model. For the first time, a Premium C SUV has been able to offer customers a versatile product with many drive modes driven by three motors (one ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) and two electric motors), to best combine the energy provided by petrol and electricity, rechargeable from a mains power supply or through deceleration regeneration.

POWERFUL AND SMART
The powertrain combines a 200hp (147kW) petrol engine and is accompanied by two 109hp (80kW) electric engines and the new eight-speed automatic gearbox. These offer a combined maximum deployment power of 300hp with torque of 450Nm, and drive to all four wheels.

DS 7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4x4 can cover a distance of 50 kilometres/31 miles in ZEV (all-electric mode) driving mode (WLTP cycle, corresponding to 60 kilometres/37 miles in NEDC) due to its 13.2kWh battery capacity. This range is suitable for daily journey distance from home to work, on the city or on highway, up to a speed of 135kph/83mph. When the battery level is low or for optimum traction, the petrol engine supplements the power required.

Several modes are available:

Zero emission is the default mode. The vehicle is always started using the electric motors, for driving comfort, silent running and zero emissions.
Sport mode, which optimises power and driving pleasure.
Hybrid mode, which manage automatically performance and fuel consumption. Emissions are minimised and declared to be under 50 grams per kilometre.
4WD, four-wheel drive, for optimum traction in all road conditions.
Using the expertise acquired through Formula E, DS 7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4x4 is regenerated whenever the driver decelerates or uses the brakes (’BRAKE’ function) to extend the range. Another function, ’E-SAVE’, also allows the driver to save enough energy to drive in all-electric mode for the last 10 or 20 kilometres / 6 or 12 miles of a journey.

The map on the high-definition touchscreen shows to the driver in real time the distance, which can be driven in Zero emission mode or where the charging stations available nearby.

DS 7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4x4’s battery can be charged in 2h using a wall-mounted terminal (32A) and with a 6.6 kW charger or in 8 hours with a traditional socket.

SPACIOUSNESS AND REFINEMENT
DS 7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4x4 offer the same spaciousness and a maximum boot space as the conventional ICE model, due to the batteries fitted underneath the floor.

The charismatic design is enhance by the 19" wheels and with the new body colour: Crystal Grey.

Attention to detail can be seen throughout with the ’E’ embossed on the gearbox control is a nod to the DS E-TENSE electric Concept Car.

And DS 7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4x4 inaugurates the Inspiration DS RIVOLI, Pearl Grey.

KEY POINTS

DS 7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4x4 is the first Premium C SUV to use rechargeable hybrid technology.
Its PureTech petrol engine and two electric motors are able to deliver a potential combined 300hp and 450Nm of torque to all four wheels for versatile performance.
The 13.2kWh battery permits a potential 50 kilometre /31 miles all-electric range according (to WLTP testing standards).
Appendix: PLUG-IN HYBRID DS7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4x4 SPECIFICATIONS

Type of hybrid vehicle

Plug-in petrol

Average autonomy

50km / 31 miles in Electric mode (WLTP)

Fuel mixed consumption

< 2.2 l/100km / 128mpg (WLTP)

CO2 mixed emissions

< 50g/km (WLTP)

Top speed

In Electric mode: 135km/h / 83mph

In internal combustion mode: 220km/h / 136mph

PERFORMANCE

4-wheel drive version

Total power

300hp

Torque

> 450Nm

Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h / 0 to 62mph

6.5 seconds

80 to 120 km/h / 50 to 70mph

4.4 seconds

1000m from a standing start

27 seconds

CHARACTERISTICS

4-wheel drive version

ELECTRIC POWERTRAIN

Power

2 electric motors, 4x4
(Positioned front and back)
Front: 80kW/110hp (337Nm)
Rear: 80Kw/110hp (166Nm)

INTERNAL COMPUSTION POWERTRAIN

Type

1.6l PureTech petrol engine Euro 6.3 compliant (front)

Configuration

4 cylinders

Displacement

1598 cm3

Maximum power

147kW/200hp at 5500rpm

Maximum torque

300Nm at 3000rpm

TRANSMISSION

Type

EAT8 eight-speed electrified automatic transmission

BATTERY

Type

Lithium-Ion

Total energy

13.2kWh

Power

90kW

Voltage

240 - 400V

Dimensions (Y x X x Z)

1,150x400x300

Weight

120kg

Charge time

Depending on the type of plug:

2h on a 32A ‘wallbox’ plug (with a 6.6kW charger)
4h on a 14A ‘Green Up’ plug
8h on a domestic 8A plug
Other than mains charging, the battery of a plug-in hybrid can be recharged via

the electric motor in the deceleration phase
the combustion engine during the driving phase
About DS AUTOMOBILES
Young French brand, DS Automobiles was launched in 2015. Its ambition is to embody, in the automotive industry, the French luxury know-how. Driven by its outstanding product heritage and avant-garde spirit, DS perpetuates the values of innovation and distinction inherited from the first DS, launched in 1955, and opens a new territory in the premium automotive market.

The first model of the second-generation DS range, DS 7 CROSSBACK, the Premium C SUV with innovative savoir-faire, opens a range of six global vehicles with one launch per year. Therefore, in September 2018, the DS brand presents its next - its new ‘Premium B SUV’, DS 3 CROSSBACK, the high-tech style icon, and with its 100% electric version E-TENSE.

Available in 2019, DS 7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4X4 - the PHEV hybrid powertrain by DS - and DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE – the first ever full electric DS car - delivers the strategy of electrification availability over the entire range.

Designed for customers looking for a means to express themselves as individuals, DS cars stand apart through their avant-garde design, refinement in every detail, advanced technologies and dynamic serenity.

For its discerning customers, who demand personalisation and exclusivity, DS Automobiles has created ‘ONLY YOU, the DS experience’, as a programme of exclusive services for a unique brand experience.

DS models are distributed via DS STORES and DS SALONS, comprising the new network exclusive to DS Automobiles. In the first half of 2018, 140 showrooms were opened around the world and the brand now has 340 sites open by the end of June 2018, including DS WORLD PARIS, its flagship at 33 Rue François 1er in Paris.

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