If we were to tell you a new SUV is being launched your reaction would probably be along the lines of “another one?”

It’s true that the flurry of SUVs in all segments has been the talk of the automotive industry in 2017, to the point where new entrants, even those with luxury positioning, are almost crying out for something unique to set them apart from the crowd.

And that’s where DS comes in. 

The manufacturer chose to break away from Citroen and become a standalone brand in 2014, but despite this, all of DS’s cars launched since then have started life as Citroens.

Big ambitions

Until now that is. DS has been pinning its hopes on becoming a premium brand and for its products to embody Gallic flair and style its divorce from Citroen was necessary.

One model launch a year for the next six years is the goal and the first step on this mission is the DS 7 Crossback, which aims to take on already stiff competition from the likes of the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3. 

The car doesn’t go on sale until February next year but we gave it a test on the manufacturer’s home streets of Paris to see if it has the potential to leap ahead of its rivals – or will fall at the first hurdle.

Powerful engine 

This 180hp 2.0-litre diesel will be the first powertrain to launch in the UK mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission. On first impression, the engine is powerful and refined, albeit a little noisy, and the gearbox swims through eight gears without fuss. The car offers decent body control despite having quite numb steering.

The 180hp 2.0-litre diesel will be joined by a 130hp 1.5-litre diesel mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, while other engine choices include the 180hp and 225hp 1.6-litre petrols mated with an auto transmission.

Five trims are on offer and the mid-range Performance Line trim greeted us with a huge amount of standard kit. 

Options such as DS’s new Active Scan Suspension, which detects bumps in the road, and its Active LED Vision are firsts for this segment and provide the DS with a unique selling proposition.

Interesting features

The interior is quirky to say the least, which is unsurprising for DS but quite rare for the rather refined and elegant luxurious class it is trying to penetrate. Triangular shapes flood the cabin on buttons and even air vents.

This car is definitely the most lavish SUV to date and this trim in particular has Alctantara almost everywhere you look.

Marmite is DS’s chosen spread with its focus on juxtaposing the traditional and modernity – the revolving BRM clock being a prime example. On the outside, the LED headlights do a funky dance to greet you, and the rear lights are also unique and feature yet more triangle shapes designed using lasers. Brownie points are awarded here though for bringing something different to the often conservative luxury SUV party.

The boot is big for its class at 555 litres with the seats up and 1,752 litres with them down, coming out larger than Jaguar’s rival E-Pace or the BMW X1.

There is plenty of space everywhere and we were impressed with the 23-32-degree reclining seats in the rear.

The range will begin at £27,995 and reaches a rather pricey £43,480. The Performance Line trim mated with an automatic transmission reaches a P11D of £36,280, which is more expensive than most of its competitors – including the BMW X1, which costs £34,253 – not to mention a high price to pay for a new market entrant.

A notable point regarding whole-life costs is how expensive the Crossback is compared to its rivals in terms of cost per mile, reaching 77.3p compared to 67.5p for the BMW X1 and 66.9p for the Audi Q3. Residual values for the Crossback are also low; 36.2%, compared with 41.2% for the Q3, and 43.0% for the X1.

The Crossback has nabbed a trick or two from the premium sector for sure, and the French couture element may be an acquired taste, but we think offering something different is rarely a bad thing. In future, hatchbacks, EVs, plug-in hybrids and yet more SUVs will be added to the DS range ? but for now, the Crossback is a more than impressive start.   

DS 7 Crossback BLUEHDi 180hp 2.0-litre Performance Line automatic

P11D Price: £36,280

On sale: February 2018

Residual value: 36.2%

Depreciation: £23130

Fuel: £5833

Service, maintenance & repair: £2324

Cost-per-mile: 77.3p

Fuel consumption: 57.6mpg

CO2 (BIK Band): 128g/km (27%)

BIK 20/40% per month: £163/£326

Boot space: 555/1752-litres

Engine size/power: 1997cc/180hp