Citroen's DS7 Crossback offers a calming drive and plenty of features
Citroen's latest mid-sized DS7 Crossback is a lot of car for the buck The DS7 Crossback is stylish with its brash mesh grille flanked by LED headlamps and a front bumper designed like the swooping mouth of a manta ray. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

While brands like BMW and Porsche have made their full-sized sport utility vehicles (SUVs) seem smaller than they are - by way of design wizardry - Citroen's luxe division has made its latest mid-sized DS7 Crossback bigger than it actually is.

The French crossover-ish five-seater is a mite smaller than Audi's Q5, but appears almost as imposing on the road as its Q7.

With a brash mesh grille flanked by LED headlamps (with individual cells that swivel into position as you unlock the car) and a front bumper designed like the swooping mouth of a manta ray, the car holds its own among its most stylish rivals - especially when dressed in turmeric gold, its signature colour.

At nearly $180,000, it may seem the DS7 Crossback is priced according to its surface area, which, despite its rather compact footprint, is actually surprisingly substantial.

But the French carrier is quite a lot of car for the buck too. Quilted nappa leather upholstery lines almost every surface of the interior.

The cockpit and centre console are right out of a concept car - ultra-modern, with an immense touchscreen to access functions from mood lighting to five-mode massage seats to more mundane things such as navigation and sound system.

(Actually, the hi-fi is not mundane at all. The Focal system, with a subwoofer beneath the floorboard, is among the best sampled here.)

Occupants in the second row are not left out. The right and left seats can be reclined at the touch of a button. Passengers here get their own climate control console too. These are features you normally find in a $400,000 car.

The only thing which does not gel with the extravagance is the rear door hinges, which appear rudimentary and a tad flimsy.

But the DS7 more than makes up. At the helm, the driver gets a plush steering wheel. There is adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assist. Parking assist is also on hand. But if you want to park manually, the car's 360-degree camera system makes the manoeuvre a cinch.

Most impressive, though, is the car's active suspension, which is modulated by a high-speed camera and a battery of sensors. It is active between 12kmh and 112kmh, and in all drive modes except Eco.

On the go, the DS has a gliding motion which is soothing, but not overly soft.

Its drivetrain is equally impressive. Although its 1.6-litre turbo is familiar, it is reworked to push out an incredible 225hp and 300Nm. The massive output powers the front wheels via an unobtrusive eight-speed autobox, sending the DS to 100kmh in 8.9 seconds and onto a top speed of 236kmh.

A more bristling performance could have been attained with 300Nm, but the DS is tailored for easy progress rather than outright punchiness. It is brisk, but affords a drive which is calming - a trait you will find in a big-capacity cruiser with ample reserves. The fact that Citroen has managed this with a 1,598cc power plant is nothing short of astounding.

And with enough features and furnishing even a Bentley owner might approve of, there is very little not to like about the car.