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Wednesday, 23 January 2019
CHRISTMAS in the Cotswolds arrived in style this year in the shape of an elegant French car that has put the avant-garde firmly back into modern-day motoring.
Indeed, in typical French style — which is after all a law unto itself — this car memorably grabbed centre stage when upon his inauguration in May last year President Emmanuel Macron took a ride down the Champs-Élysées in his very own DS 7 Crossback.
Mr Macron was aboard the La Première limited edition (naturally) and the car I have been driving this week before Christmas is a pretty good match for the French president’s wheels of choice.
You only have to glance at this sleek, black DS 7 Crossback to see why it turns heads. Was that part of Mr Macron’s game plan?
So what is it about the DS 7 that makes it stand out? Well, because it is unashamedly French right down to the last nut and bolt. And it definitely has a certain road presence that is missing in most cars today.
How did the DS 7 Crossback come about? DS Automobiles is a luxury brand developed by Citroën from 2009. The DS name is of course a nod to the iconic Citroën DS of yesteryear — a car of such sublime style that it still has legions of fans around the world, including myself. But the emphasis today for DS cars is that they are presented to the buying public in a different way. For example, the first so-called DS Urban Store — a boutique car shop — was opened at London’s Westfield shopping complex.
The smaller models in the range, particularly the DS 3, immediately impressed me because of their unashamedly luxurious interiors and stylish design features.
The emergence of those models backed up my argument that just because a car is small it does not have to be uncomfortable. It can have all the perks of large, luxury cars.
The DS 7 Crossback excels on the luxury front. On the Ultra Prestige model I have been driving there were Art Black Basalt Nappa leather seats, dashboard and door panels with pearl stitching, gloss black interior door handles and leather grab handles.
There were electro chrome door mirrors, remote tailgate opening with key and hands-free locking, laminated front and rear windows and PolyAmbient interior lighting.
Also, this car was designed as the DS Inspiration Opera, whereby the “absolute opulence” of the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris, with its façade of gold and marble friezes, inspired designers to produce this particular DS 7 Crossback. The DS Inspiration Rivoli is another design style (of four) that potential customers can choose from to suit their own style. Rivoli reflects the famous street of the same name with its luxury boutiques, the famed Tuileries Garden and the Louvre.
I told you the DS 7 was very French. It may pass over your head and not be something you require when considering buying a new car, but actually I like the DS modus operandi (marketed as the Spirit of Avant-Garde).
Why shouldn’t we have more style in our lives? Especially in the world of cars where models are in serious danger of becoming indistinguishable from one another because of bland, repetitive styling?
And actually, the DS range also proves that a little pizazz in your motoring life does not have to cost a fortune.
This crossover SUV (sport utility vehicle) has just about everything on it technologically and comfort-wise that you could pay twice as much for with other brands.
The test car, with metallic paint and advanced traction control (grip) fitted, cost a total of £45,070.
The turbocharged 1997cc diesel engine, together with the eight-speed automatic transmission provided plenty of torque (pulling power) for this luxury wagon. Fuel economy was 57.6mpg (combined cycle). But of course DS Automobiles is not standing still on the research and development front, which is another fine feature of French-made cars.
From 2025 onwards, all new DS models will be available exclusively in electrified versions — either hybrid or electric.
This strategy is already under way with the arrival of the DS 7 Crossback E-Tense 4x4, with a power unit that produces 300 bhp and 50km driving range. This was the first 100 per cent electric DS model to be shown at the Paris Motor Show.
The recent 2018 Paris ePrix, a competition for electric racers, was an opportunity for DS Automobiles to share the details of its electrification strategy.
After an eventful race, it was the DS E-Tense FE19 of Formula E champion Jean-Éric Vergne that crossed the finish line in second place.
The DS E-Tense FE19 is built in-house by DS Automobiles in a new factory at Versailles, just outside Paris. This new electric racer is ultra-quick: it has a maximum power of 338hp and can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds.
Next stop for this kind of technology that is being developed on racetracks has to be public roads. The electric cars are coming — and fast.
Watch this space.
For selected motoring reviews by Nigel Wigmore, visit www.browsingimpala.co.uk
DS 7 Crossback Ultra Prestige BlueHDi
• Cost of test car: £45,070
• EAT8 8-speed fully automatic transmission
• Electric assisted power steering
• 20in Tokyo black Onyx diamond-cut alloy wheels
• Max speed: 134 mph
• Fuel economy: 57.6mpg (combined cycle)
• Warranty: 3 years, 60,000 miles
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