As PSA 2010 with the DS3 a small car under the new brand DS brought out, this mostly earned shakes of heads, especially outside of France. What should the new French premium look like? A vehicle that, like the subsequent models DS4 and DS5, is ultimately only based on corresponding Citroen vehicles and could hardly hide its kinship with the C3 compact car? It was always said from the group, that will change. And, in fact, PSA is finally getting serious from next year. With the DS7 Crossback, the first truly independent model of the brand will come to the up to 2018 German DS dealers in the future. The SUV, with a length of 70 meters, which is similar in length to a Mercedes GLC, is intended to counter all future DS models, especially with French chic, to the rather cool-technical German premium suppliers à la Audi, BMW and Mercedes, but well ahead poaching especially with Lexus or Jaguar.
It is no small matter to install a new premium brand and whether the eight-year lead-up with pimped Citroen models was more of an advantage or a disadvantage cannot yet be conclusively assessed today. At least the pace will increase significantly from next year. Starting in 2018, the French want to launch a new model every year, a total of six vehicles by 2023. For example, there are rumors of a successor to the DS2019 in early 3, which could also be designed as an SUV and therefore against the Audi would compete in Q2. And at the end of 2019 / beginning of 2020, the first sedan will probably be on the program, which, for example, as a DS8 would find buyers especially in China. In general, China plays an important role in the considerations of the DS strategists, and the DS7 Crossback is not only produced in Mühlhausen, France, but also in the Shenzen plant in China.
The large SUV, which is still running under the project name X74, is being built on the PSA Group's EMP2 platform. 80.000 units per year are planned, of which around half are to be sold in Europe and almost 40 percent in Asia. The DS7 Crossback looks extremely high quality. As is common today, the French use a large, in this case hexagonal grille in a diamond design. The designers are focusing on a special effect when it comes to light. When the vehicle is opened, the LED headlights first shine in purple-red and can also be rotated by 180 degrees. The light signature at the rear has also been designed very elaborately and is intended to guarantee a high level of recognition. The interior impresses with first-class materials and is neatly finished, but without wanting to compete with a market leader like Audi.
The fact that the DS7 Crossback has all the usual assistance systems must be taken into account in the claim of the brand. Particularly noteworthy is the so-called Active Scan Suspension, with which the brand also wants to build on the then sensational hydropneumatic suspension of the original DS of 1955. As with the Mercedes S-Class only, Active Scan uses a camera to monitor the road conditions and forwards the data to a computer that adapts each individual wheel to the road conditions via the shock absorbers.
The engines are initially more conventional. At the market launch there are five well-known corporate drives, three gasoline and two diesel with up to 230 PS performance. Except for the basic gasoline engine and the base diesel, each with about 130 PS, which are connected via a manual six-speed transmission, all engines are connected as standard to an eight-speed automatic transmission from Aisin.
The most interesting drive is followed by 2019, a plug-in hybrid variant consisting of a petrol engine with 147 kW / 200 horsepower and two electric drives each with 80 kW / 109 horsepower. Since one of the engines drives the rear axle, so four-wheel drive is realized. Again, the eight-speed automatic transmission is used. The combination of the three engines results in a system performance of 220 kW / 300 PS. The battery with 12 to 13 kWh is intended to allow purely electrical ranges of theoretically up to 60 kilometers. The charging time is 4,5 hours on a household socket and 2,5 hours in fast charging mode.
With the development of DS as a premium brand, its positioning in the competition must also be determined. One thing is certain: DS is becoming more expensive and more powerful, and an electrified variant is expected to provide up to 500 hp in the future. The brand slogan “The Spirit of Avantgarde” refers to the core values of origin, quality, service and uniqueness. Whether the claim “No. 1 in quality and service ”remains to be seen. The German premium manufacturers will be hard to beat here and DS is only positioning itself in segments B to D, i.e. from small cars to medium-sized cars, so there will be no real competitors to a BMW 7 Series or an Audi A8 from France. In terms of price, too, they are more oriented towards the upscale volume competition á la VW - the DS 7 Crossback with 130 gasoline hp will probably start at around 30.000 euros. For comparison: At Mercedes, the GLC, which is two centimeters shorter, is only available with at least 170 diesel horses from around 45.000 euros. (Peter Eck / SP-X)