DS 7 CROSSBACK: THE FIRST NEW-GENERATION DS
- DS 7 CROSSBACK is the first of a new-generation of DS vehicles that is being launched progressively over the coming years
- Its proportions, refined styling and the technologies it includes are exactly what we want DS to stand for.
- DS 7 CROSSBACK is exclusively available from the new DS Stores and DS Salons opening in key locations across the UK
Launched on 1st June 2014, DS Automobiles is presently surfing the crest of a wave. Due to bold innovation, cutting-edge technology and the experience enjoyed by our customers, we were determined to re-establish these distinguished initials within the French automobile industry, and the men and women who work for the brand have spent three passionate years turning that vision into reality.
Above all, this entailed producing exceptional cars, and the design of the DS 7 CROSSBACK – the first new-generation DS – began immediately after the brand’s creation. Its proportions, refined styling and the technologies it packs are exactly what we want DS to stand for.
At the same time, the DS 7 CROSSBACK is being marketed via a bespoke, innovative, multi-channel network that is exclusive to DS, our wish being to provide our customers with an exceptional experience, not only in our DS Stores and DS Salons, but also digitally. Our sales outlets have been conceived not as conventional dealerships but as luxury stores where customers can extend their relationship with us that began in virtual form due to DS Virtual Vision. There are some 400 new DS sales points opening up every day around the world and 60 or so of which are in the UK.
With our Only You programme offering a comprehensive range of exclusive services, including DS Rent – which provides an opportunity to discover the range by hiring a model – and the DS Privilege club, with its MyDS app, we are breaking new ground when it comes to delivering an engaging brand experience.
The response we have received to the creation of our DS world confirms that we have brought something new to the market. As part of a large group, yet with the flexibility of a start-up business, the DS brand has been created, shaped and built by teams who are passionate about their work and these three years of work are now bearing fruit. Our first reward will be to see the first customers join us in writing a fresh chapter in the history of 21st century motoring as they take to the wheel of their DS 7 CROSSBACK.
Yves Bonnefont, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) DS Automobiles
DS 7 CROSSBACK: THE NEW GLOBAL SUV FROM DS AUTOMOBILES
DS 7 CROSSBACK is a completely new model, developed from the ground up by DS. For the brand, in addition to injecting a fresh dynamic, it places the cursor particularly high in terms of styling, comfort and technology and stands out as an inspiring reward for all those who played a part in its design and development. “Over the three decades I have worked in the automobile industry, I have been involved in numerous model launches, says Eric Apode, Product and Development Director, DS Automobiles, and I can confirm that DS 7 CROSSBACK is different and I am so looking forward to seeing it on the road. It marks the advent of a new brand, plus new, innovative products that I am convinced will win over customers. These are extremely exciting times for us.”
DS Automobiles is the latest ambassador for the world of French luxury, a claim backed by the refinement and creativity of its products, as well as the prestige materials it employs and the ultra-technology it packs. The plans prepared by Eric Apode and his colleagues for the brand’s launch are founded on the release of six new modes over a period of as many years and, given the market’s current physiognomy, they believed it was only natural that the first new-generation DS should be an SUV. “In all the countries where premium models sell, C-segment SUVs have the biggest potential in terms of volume and profitability,” adds Eric Apode. “It was therefore logical for the DS 7 CROSSBACK to be our first model.”
A new benchmark
DS 7 CROSSBACK is DS Automobiles’ new flagship. Manufactured in Europe and China, it goes on sale in all the markets where the brand is active. At the same time, it’s underpinning design cues – including generous proportions and spectacular styling – will also feature on all the other models that make up the upcoming range. “We are targeting customers who want to assert themselves and who are looking for a new motoring experience,” points out Eric Apode. “After carefully studying their expectations, we decided to focus on cultivating our hallmarks and identity, while at the same time providing a comprehensive range of customisation opportunities. When it comes to the vehicles they drive, our customers tend to have exacting aspirations. They are very much up to speed with what the market has to offer and want to stand out from the crowd. They want a car that mirrors their status, success and individuality. They aren’t drawn to DS as they might be to another brand. Their sights are set firmly on the future.”
Hybrid – with an electrified Petrol-Electric drivetrain
The plug-in hybrid E-Tense 4×4 version of DS 7 CROSSBACK sees DS take the notion of exclusivity and cutting-edge technology further still. The electrification of its range is central to the brand’s strategy and all new DS models will be available with either full electric or plug-in hybrid power. DS 7 CROSSBACK is the first illustration of this product plan, which places the emphasis on high added value, and DS Automobiles expects such variants will account for more than one-third of its sales by 2025. “Beyond all these commercial considerations, DS 7 CROSSBACK is above all the result of a formidable human and industrial adventure and several years’ work involving all our teams,” concludes Eric Apode. “The result is the car we all dreamed of in terms of its design and the technology it offers. We also wanted to take advantage of our heritage by carrying over the innovative spirit that inspired the DS in 1955. In terms of ride comfort, peace of mind and travelling enjoyment, we are in-line with the philosophy of the original DS. With DS 7 CROSSBACK, we have achieved an overall package that positions it at the very top of its class due to a perfect fusion of French-style luxury and extraordinary technological innovation.”
A TALE OF PASSION, HIGH STANDARDS, AUDACITY AND TEAM SPIRIT
The early framework decisions concerning DS 7 CROSSBACK’s were taken at the project’s Phase Zero. Even before the first sketches of possible body designs were penned, the initial mission was to establish the future model’s fundamentals. This was done in close collaboration with the engineering teams in order to maximise the benefits of the platform that had been selected, as well as to determine the proportions that would ensure a forceful design. The creative process itself began with an in-house competition. Five designers were invited to submit designs, two of which were singled out by the brand and its design department. The successful proposals were converted into a digital format before clay models were made of each and a final decision was then taken.
United behind the ‘winning’ project, the brand’s staff, project team and engineering department duly set to work to develop what was destined to be the first model designed from A to Z by DS. Time was taken carefully to prepare the foundations required to ensure the targeted level of quality and DS 7 CROSSBACK’s basic forms and proportions (4.57 metres long x 1.89m wide x 1.62m high) were signed off at the end of 2014. The first rolling prototypes came off the production line in June 2016.
DS 7 CROSSBACK’s unveiling at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show provided the public with its first opportunity to view the design language and visual cues that the brand had been working on for several years, and which will become a feature of the marque’s upcoming new products. Inspired from the DS Divine concept car, the front end not only expressed the brand’s identity but also exuded an impression of status, refinement and advanced technology. Perhaps the most eloquent example of this was the pivoting modules of the DS Active LED Vision head lights which not only illustrate the brand’s avant-garde spirit but also enhance safety and comfort.
Unique in the industry, this high-tech solution instantly sets DS 7 CROSSBACK apart from its rivals. Meanwhile, at the rear, the singularly deep glow produced by the overlapping-scales pattern of the one-piece light clusters is another distinctive feature.
Due to its silhouette, big 20-inch wheels, wide tracks and long, creased bonnet, DS 7 CROSSBACK packs all the cues associated with SUVs, while at the same time conveying a heightened impression of power, and even charisma. The body’s simple, sculpted, sensuous forms contribute to the car’s personality, which is reinforced by the sharp lines and other styling details. These character lines add a certain tension to the model’s already assertive stance. DS 7 CROSSBACK takes DS into a new era of automobile design, with the distinctive flavour of its models poised to become even more striking with time.
Three questions put to…Thierry Métroz, Senior Vice President DS Design, DS Automobiles
DS 7 CROSSBACK IS THE FIRST CAR TO HAVE BEEN DESIGNED BY DS FROM THE GROUND UP, FORESHADOWING THE STYLING OF OTHER MODELS TO COME. WERE ALL THESE MODELS DESIGNED IN PARALLEL IN ORDER TO ENSURE A CERTAIN UNITY?
It’s actually a little more complex than that. In 2014, when we designed DS 7 CROSSBACK, a clearly defined strategy was already in place, for both its exterior and interior design, including the colours and materials to be employed. At the same time, we were in the process of designing the DS Divine concept car which enabled us to gauge the public’s reactions. A fair amount of the feedback we received in this way was applied to the DS 7 CROSSBACK. Indeed, if you park the two cars side by side, they clearly share similar genes, notably at the front. Given that one of the key traits of our brand’s DNA is audacity, I believe the fact that we dared to carry over aspects of a concept car to a production model is a perfect illustration of our bold approach.
WHAT WAS THE REASONING BEHIND DS 7 CROSSBACK’S OVERALL DESIGN AND HOW DID YOU SET ABOUT DEFINING ITS DIMENSIONS AND PROPORTIONS?
When the time came to finalise our new SUV’s dimensions, that decision was based on the first milled-foam models. This helped us to rapidly judge the proportions, track widths, wheelbase, bonnet length and wheel size. Seventy percent of any successful design stems from getting the proportions right, so we committed significant energy to this process. As a result, DS 7CROSSBACK benefits from dynamic, sculpted lines and a design we believe is perfect in terms of its overall proportions.
TO WHAT EXTENT WAS DS 7 CROSSBACK’S DESIGN INSPIRED BY THE DS OF 1955 WHICH THE BRAND SEES AS AN INHERENT PART OF ITS HERITAGE?
There is no direct descendant in styling terms; no retro cues. That said, we effectively sought to draw inspiration from the original DS’s iconic avant-garde spirit. By that, I mean the notion of breaking away from the norm and being a step ahead of your day. It was this challenge that drove us throughout DS 7
CROSSBACK’s development. With all our new models, our intention is to propose features that nobody else offers, as you can see with DS 7 CROSSBACK’s front and rear lights, plus many other details and exquisite appointments, notably inside the cabin.
DESIGN, INDUSTRY-SKILLED CRAFTSMEN
To select the materials and colours for the DS 7 CROSSBACK line-up, DS called upon the expert services of craftspeople recognised as the best in France (Meilleurs Ouvriers de France), as well as contributions from specialists in a variety of other fields, including interior architects, colourists and engineers. Painstaking attention was paid to every tiny detail – both inside and out – to ensure that owners of DS’s new SUV benefit from an exceptional finish.
“The materials we employ are chosen as a function of our models’ respective positioning, the customers they target and the mood we wish to create,” notes Sabine Le Masson Pannetrat, Design Manager of colour and trim at DS. “At the beginning of projects, we don’t fix ourselves any limits because, although we clearly have to work to a brief, the aim is to explore new territory. Selected materials are thoroughly tested by the technical department to make sure they are durable and not affected by exposure to light or rubbing, for example. We endeavour to be as creative as possible but some of our ideas cannot yet be applied to the automobile industry. So, in collaboration with our suppliers, and based on our own experience, we sift through the options to single out those that offer the best trade-off between inventiveness and pragmatism.”
Pushing back boundaries
DS 7 CROSSBACK’s cabin features a number of exclusive appointments, including a decorative pearl-stitch top-stitching which adorns the dashboard and door panels with a pearl-like effect. The technique was only signed off after DS and its suppliers had spent more than four years testing its resistance to rubbing and abrasion. This sort of process is currently unique in the industry. The wood finish is also unique inasmuch as the surface area involved is significantly bigger than anything seen elsewhere. Also, the species selected for the DS 7 CROSSBACK are laid obliquely in relation to their grain, a technique which called for special savoir-faire from both DS Design and the brand’s suppliers. “Working with wood is not easy because it is highly sensitive to fluctuations in humidity levels and temperature,” notes Sabine Le Masson Pannetrat. “As we wanted a light, open-pore varnish, we had to implement a highly rigorous selection process to be sure that our customers benefited from the very best finish.”
As far as materials and colours were concerned, dozens of different combinations were evaluated ahead of the definitive choice. Several phases were involved in the process which began by defining the overall feel that was required, then funnelling down the initial proposals before coming to a final decision after viewing full-scale prototypes, with input from all the brand’s departments. “This is a very important step when selecting body colours,” underlines Sabine Le Masson Pannetrat. “The effect can be very different depending on the car’s volumes.” The choice for the DS 7 CROSSBACK was ultimately narrowed down to nine body colours and five distinctive interior finishes*, known as Inspirations.”
– Inspiration DS Bastille: chrome exterior detailing, black grille and bumper, plus a ‘bronze’-finish interior trim obtained by an original ‘topping’ process. The specification continues with Perruzi Bronze fabric upholstery, a multi-function full-grain leather-trimmed steering wheel, a faux leather-trimmed armrest and door control panels, and a guilloche-finish centre console.
– Inspiration DS Performance Line: combines a sporty feel with elegance due to chrome exterior details, Performance Line badging on the bonnet, wings, and specific 19-inch wheels. Inside, the flat-bottom Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel, combined Alcantara/faux leather upholstery, Performance Line carpet mats and aluminium pedal caps provide additional sporty flourishes.
– Inspiration DS Rivoli: inspired by the famous Rue de Rivoli in Paris. DS 7 CROSSBACK Rivoli comes with chrome exterior beading, rotary controls with crystal inserts beneath the central display, guilloche-finish aluminium centre console trim strips, grained leather-upholstery, electrically-adjustable seats, carpet mats and a rotary B.R.M R180 clock which turns 180o when the engine is started.
– Inspiration DS Opéra: inspired by another famous landmark of the French capital. The DS Opéra trim level features bespoke badging and specific exterior chrome work, while distinctive interior appointments include Nappa leather upholstery, a patina-finish dashboard and door panels with pearl-stitch top-stitching, heated seats, a heated windscreen, a pivoting B.R.M R180 clock and DS Connect Nav complete with digital radio.
Leather and ‘guillochage’: two DS specialities
DS employs a number of ‘Meilleurs Ouvriers de France’, state-recognised craftspeople. Masters in the art of upholstery, they combine manual skills with automotive industry expertise. DS uses both grained leather and smoother Nappa hide, as well as patinated Nappa Art Leather. These exclusive skins – adapted for mass production use with the assistance of suppliers (which DS generally shares with other high-end and luxury car brands) – are a feature of only the most refined finishes, such as that of the DS 7 CROSSBACK’s interior.
On occasions, it is the brand’s in-house designers who bring new materials or processes to the attention of suppliers, such as the specific hides used for the upholstery’s ‘watchstrap’ seat designs. These are provided by one supplier but are actually fashioned by another.
Guillochage is another of DS’s areas of expertise. This technique dates back to the 16th Century and entails embellishing metal surfaces with a pattern of interlaced lines. Due to its complexity, it tends to be reserved for high-end chronographs, but DS has carried it over to the world of automotive design. The brand’s Rivoli trim level, for example, features a Clous de Paris guilloche effect which consists in small pyramidal pin-heads that stand proud of the base metal – in this case aluminium. The same motif is to be found elsewhere in the cabin to produce a particularly refined overall unity.
TRAVELLING IN OUTSTANDING COMFORT AND A SPACIOUS INTERIOR
Meticulous attention was paid to ensuring that the DS 7 CROSSBACK’s cabin provided peerless travelling comfort. The engineers in charge of the project approached the design of its interior as they might that of a lounge in a home, with the accent on space, occupant friendliness, soundproofing and connectivity, all areas in which motorists are becoming increasingly demanding.
DS Automobiles has taken steps to outclass the DS 7 CROSSBACK’s rivals in terms of the size and design of its seats, as well as the support and comfort they provide, irrespective of journey length. They pack all the technologies that are currently available and stand out as benchmarks in the industry. High-density foams were specifically selected to efficiently filter out vibrations generated by uneven road surfaces, and also to be sure that the seats lose nothing of their firmness over time. The revised massage function (depending on the version) now features programmable, variable-intensity air pockets, while the model’s heated, ventilated seats absorb and clear up to 40 cubic metres of air every hour to guarantee perfect comfort. Finally, all the DS 7 CROSSBACK’s seats are equipped with electrically-reclining backs for an even more relaxed drive.
A silent ride
DS also sought to outperform its rivals with regard to soundproofing performance and the elimination of vibrations. From the entry level up, all versions of DS 7 CROSSBACK come with a comprehensive package that is unmatched in its class, with high-end insulation laid between the engine compartment and the cabin, in the wheel wells, beneath the bonnet, in the door panels, in the roof lining and underneath the carpeting. Another feature that is unique in DS 7 CROSSBACK’s class is the availability of laminated front and rear side windows.
Quality audio and advanced connectivity
When it comes to in-car entertainment, the number of speakers naturally contributes to the quality of the listening experience and DS 7 CROSSBACK is equipped with up to 14 speakers. To deliver the highest possible standard of audio performance, DS teamed up with French Hi-Fi specialist Focal to optimise not only the location of the various speakers, but also the rigidity of the panels on which they are mounted and the design of their protective grills. DS and Focal worked hand-in-hand to find the very best overall configuration for automotive use.
Meanwhile, as the car’s development progressed, DS’s engineers took care to incorporate all the latest technologies as they became available to ensure the very best level of connectivity currently available. As a result, DS 7 CROSSBACK is equipped with numerous applications that allow drivers to benefit from connected navigation along with real-time traffic information and weather forecasts for the journey, for example, access to the internet, plus Apple CarPlay™ and MirrorLink® smartphone replication. Termed ‘Level 3’ by DS, the resulting package is the very best system to be featured on any PSA Group vehicle today.
SMART PRACTICAL APPOINTMENTS
The DS 7 CROSSBACK’s roomy interior includes numerous, spacious, easy-to-reach stowage solutions in response to DS management’s insistence during the model’s development on combining exceptional travelling comfort with real occupant-friendliness. All occupants consequently have simple access to bins and trays to stash the sort of personal items that are increasingly becoming a spin-off of todays connected world.
Three questions put to … Xavier Savignac, Project Director, DS 7 CROSSBACK
WHAT WERE THE CONSIDERATIONS THAT GUIDED COMFORT DELIVERED BY DS 7 CROSSBACK?
There was input from all the brand’s departments, but this aspect of the car notably involved the styling teams. They have a longer-term view of society and understand the sort of vehicle, equipment and services customers are most likely to want in the future. The trends they perceived were naturally verified by market research and the process as a whole enabled us to be more in-tune with our customers’ expectations than ever. From the outset, we wanted the DS 7 CROSSBACK’s cabin to rank first in every way, from travelling comfort in its widest sense to cabin space and connectivity.
DID YOUR CONCEPTION OF THE INTERIOR INFLUENCE THE CAR’S DIMENSIONS IN ANY WAY?
The brief naturally called for striking the best possible balance between exterior styling, the car’s proportions and cabin space. There was a lot of discussion about the DS 7 CROSSBACK’s length because it is 4.57 metres long [NB: 4.60 metres in China, including licence plate] compared with the segment average of 4.45 metres. Despite this, we wanted even more cabin space, especially at the rear, plus a big boot which stands at 555 litres. At the same time, given the platform we chose for the model, we didn’t want the technology necessary for the model’s plug-in hybrid version – DS 7 CROSSBACK E-Tense – to encroach on the available room. For all these reasons, we needed to position the car at the upper-end of its segment, which in fact fits perfectly with the model’s global calling.
WHAT DOES DS 7 CROSSBACK DELIVER THAT ITS RIVALS DON’T?
Take our unique approach to the cabin, for example. Due to the finishes we selected and the space that is available, it exudes a level of comfort you might associate with the lounge of a home. Also, providing different ambiences as a function of the different trim levels is something completely new. We clearly offer a choice of packages that aren’t available elsewhere. Seat quality, travelling comfort, the variety of stowage solutions and soundproofing performance have all been taken to fresh levels and redefine French-style automotive luxury. DS 7 CROSSBACK is a high-tech gem, too. Its two 12-inch displays, one of which is HD, its Hi-Fi audio and its advanced connectivity are a concentrate of all that is best in the model’s class, not to mention its undeniable touch of charm. When you climb aboard DS 7 CROSSBACK for the very first time, you sense that it is a very special car.
DRIVING COMPOSURE, REASSURING TO DRIVE
The moment you touch the DS 7 CROSSBACK’s door, you instinctively sense that quality was at the forefront of the brand’s priorities. Once on board, the ideal driving position is easy to find, either manually or electrically, depending on equipment level (known as ‘Inspirations’ in the case of the latest-generation DSs), and keyless starting is a standard feature across the model’s line-up. On the powertrain front, the BlueHDi 130 diesel engine is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, while all the catalogue’s other blocks (diesel BlueHDi 180 and petrol PureTech 180 and 225) drive though brand new eight-speed automatic transmission. In both cases, the easy-to-use gear shift lever is an illustration of how driver-friendliness has been dialled into the DS 7 CROSSBACK’s design. All of the above features are the product of the model’s long development process.
A key part of the original brief for DS 7 CROSSBACK concerned the car’s on-road dynamics which were the responsibility of the Customer Synthesis department led by Alain Joseph. Detailed requirements for everything that drivers perceive when behind the wheel – from the vehicle’s acoustic and comfort performance, to its road holding – were listed and passed on to the teams tasked with the different aspects of the car’s development.
To confirm the car’s drivability, a team of five experts began by taking a hard look at a selection of rival models, in much the same way as specialist journalists proceed when conducting comparison tests. This work started from the beginning and involved DS test drivers evaluating some 100 criteria and attributing them with a score of between one and ten. “After benchmarking our competitors, the next step was to define how we wanted our own car to compare as a function of the priorities established by the Product Department,” explains Alain Joseph.
“Taking market trends into account, we wanted DS 7 CROSSBACK to stand out as the best vehicle in its class in terms of both its road holding and overall performance. Our ‘reassuring dynamics’ marker, which is one of the cornerstones of the DS brand’s DNA, obliges all the teams involved in new model development to surpass themselves and innovate. During this preparatory phase, we also studied the touring cars that have marked automotive history through their avant-garde spirit, including the classic SM and DS. With the help of modern technology, our aim was to inject the same thinking into the design of DS 7 CROSSBACK, the ultimate objective being to combine a completely reassuring driving experience whatever the circumstances with dynamic performance. It is our belief that these are the two defining qualities of a truly great touring car.”
To meet this lofty target, DS selected the EMP2 (Efficient Modular Platform) which is used by other PSA Group models and which was seen as ideally suited to DS’s segment and the ambitious package the brand sought to create. The flexible rear beam was replaced by a multi-arm arrangement to obtain a smoother ride and minimise percussive noises. At the same time, DS’s engineers extended the wheelbase by 5.5cm and widened the front track, which made the front suspension’s layout specific, too. The DS 7 CROSSBACK is the Group’s first vehicle to employ this architecture.
New-generation electronic damping
DS’s latest SUV comes with a new, variable, multi-mode damping system controlled by data provided by a number of sensors (acceleration, speed, steering wheel angle) but also by a windscreen-mounted camera which scans the road surface up to 20 metres ahead. In this way, the system’s adaptive function is assisted by predictive data to ensure high performance, along with outstanding comfort and safety. Only a handful of high-end limousines currently boast this advanced technology, the benefits of which are obvious. For example, driving over a speed hump no longer subjects occupants to a sequence of oscillations as the suspension settles. Instead, the car stabilises itself immediately.
Precision and driving enjoyment are further enhanced by the body’s exceptional rigidity. This has been obtained due to the use of weld-bonding technology whereby a bead of adhesive (22 meters in all) is applied between each weld. The result is an appreciable 30-percent gain in terms of torsional stiffness that can be felt by the driver via the steering wheel, as well as by passengers, since it also means fewer vibrations and more effective soundproofing.
The sensation of wellbeing continues with the steering system which features a carefully-dimensioned steering wheel and a choice of two driving modes, namely ‘Normal’ for everyday motoring and ‘Sport’ for a firmer, more dynamic drive. In both cases, feedback from the road is particularly precise. Although sufficiently big to be perfectly reassuring in all situations, the steering wheel’s diameter is slightly smaller than the norm to add an extra soupcon of dynamism and agility. Aided by the combination of all these features, the DS 7 CROSSBACK’s first class road manners make it exceptionally reassuring to drive.
THE PURSUIT OF QUALITY – IS AN OBSESSION
To ensure that the targets set for the different teams involved in the DS 7 CROSSBACK’s development had been met, Alain Joseph and his colleagues carried out a programme of evaluation drives, initially at the wheel of development mules, then in pre-production versions, which took to the road in camouflaged form from January 2017. At the same time, endurance tests on simulators and at different locations across the globe were organised, totalling a distance of almost two million kilometres. After the model’s unveiling in Geneva, further exhaustive testing was carried out by a captive fleet of vehicles in the hands of engineers and people akin to future customers and high-mileage professional drivers. “PSA Group’s CEO Carlos Tavares is always saying ‘quality first and foremost’,” says Alain Joseph. “As a new car, we knew that DS 7 CROSSBACK would position us at the top of the order and we will also figure on top when it comes to lasting quality. We have taken all the necessary steps to make sure of this, well in excess of what has been done previously at PSA Group. This the first full-fledged DS, so our success is dependent on how it performs and we undertook everything in our power to get it right.”
DS 7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4X4, PIONEERING AND AVANT-GARDE
The DS 7 CROSSBACK E-Tense 4X4 is the plug-in hybrid version of the DS 7 CROSSBACK. Due to go on sale in 2019, it testifies to DS’s determination to deliver exceptional vehicles that are coherent with the DS 7 CROSSBACK’s high-tech image and positioning.
As DS Automobiles seeks to enable its customers to benefit from its hybrid technology expertise. The range of the 200hp, 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine will be extended thanks to the fitment of two 80kW electric motors – one at the front, one at the rear, which will increase total power output to 300hp. In both performance and environmental terms, it promises to meet the expectations of customers looking for an exceptional vehicle equipped with non-permanent all-wheel drive transmission.
Courtesy of its power and high torque, the DS 7 CROSSBACK E-Tense 4X4 produces outstanding acceleration – with the forthcoming version set to be the fastest in its range from standstill to 60mph, going on to reach a top speed in excess of 136mph – and its impressive performance is even more noteworthy considering its other key credentials. By way of example, the DS 7 CROSSBACK E-Tense 4X4 boasts a zero emissions range of up to 30 miles (on the latest WLTP cycle), while its type approval restricts its combined cycle CO2 emissions to just 40g/km. With a 3.3kW charger and 16A socket, the DS 7 CROSSBACK E-Tense 4X4 requires barely four hours to reach full charge, or a mere 1h40m with a 6.6kW charger and 32A socket.
The DS CROSSBACK 7 E-Tense 4X4 similarly surprises out on the road. In all-electric EV mode, the car works with rear-wheel drive and can attain speeds of at least 80mph without producing any harmful emissions. Once the available zero emissions energy has been consumed, the vehicle’s hybrid function takes over. At this stage, the DS 7 CROSSBACK E-Tense works either solely with front-wheel drive – drawing on the power produced by its combustion engine and front electric motor – or, if necessary, all-wheel drive, thanks to the supply of power from the rear motor in demanding or low-grip conditions. The 4X4 mode can also be selected independently by the driver whenever the need arises.
A familiar feel
While hybrid cars and plug-in hybrids tend to generate a somewhat artificial feeling through the brake pedal, the DS 7 CROSSBACK’s E-Tense version will retain a rather more traditional approach. DS is currently working hard with its suppliers on the vehicle’s calibration and braking system to ensure that the feeling under braking and deceleration resembles that of a conventional combustion-engined vehicle as closely as possible – all with customer satisfaction as the highest priority and with a desire to lead from the front.
3 questions to… Olivier Salvat, Project Director, Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
WHEN WILL THE DS 7 CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4X4 GO ON SALE AND WHY IS THIS VERSION BEING LAUNCHED LATER THAN DS 7 CROSSBACK?
The DS 7 CROSSBACK E-Tense will be launched in 2019 to allow it to benefit from a new generation of cells whose energy density will enable us to make the batteries even more compact than before, thereby preserving the same level of interior space and boot volume. We will be the first or one of the first car manufacturers to use these batteries, which will be positioned underneath the rear seats.
WHAT WILL YOU BE FOCUSING ON BETWEEN NOW AND THE MOMENT WHEN THE HYBRID DS7CROSSBACK E-TENSE 4X4 HITS THE MARKET?
We will be working predominantly on the vehicle’s calibration and on verifying the quality of the product by subjecting all of its components to rigorous endurance tests. We must also respond to a production-related challenge. We have adopted a multi-energy platform approach, which will allow us to produce PHEV versions of all vehicles built on our EMP2 platform. This period of industrial transformation involves our French plants in Sochaux and Mulhouse, as well as our facilities in China.
WHAT IS THE MAJOR CHALLENGE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF E-TENSE TECHNOLOGY?
Our main focus is to be sure that our plug-in hybrid system is easy to use. We want to provide our customers with the performance they need when they need it, without complications or restrictions. We are working on the human-machine interface, and addressing customers’ apprehensions about such an avant-garde vehicle is a challenge that we are proud to be taking on. The DS 7 CROSSBACK E-Tense will not only be one of the most advanced vehicles on the market from a technological point-of-view, but it will also be one of the most intuitive to use.
TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERS, FROM THE RACETRACK TO THE ROAD
In June 2015, DS Automobiles approached Virgin Racing through its motorsport division DS Performance with a view to establishing a team to contest the FIA Formula E Championship, a new series featuring all-electric single-seater cars competing around temporary street circuits in city centres. Due to its unique format, which sees all the action – from free practice to the races themselves – take place on the same day, Formula E provides DS with the opportunity to compete in front of fans in a variety of iconic cities throughout the world, from Hong-Kong and New York to Montreal, Monaco, Berlin and Paris. Indeed, the event in the French capital – set against the magical backdrop of the architectural complex of Les Invalides – attracts the most media attention of all. Despite the valuable exposure generated by the championship, DS’s interest in Formula E is not merely restricted to marketing and communication. “Motorsport is a means to accelerate research and development,” says DS Performance Director, Xavier Mestelan Pinon.
“The lessons we learn through our involvement in Formula E assist the teams that develop our road cars. When we talk about technology transfer, we obviously don’t mean that we adapt racing car components for use on our standard road cars. It’s more to do with what we learn about the components and materials we employ that helps us to progress and save time. Simulator work, which we use a great deal in motorsport today, also allows us to work more quickly and in greater detail when exploring a given technological avenue, in order to maximise its value for a wide variety of applications.”
Blending excitement with utility
In addition to being an excellent communication tool and a means to speed up the development of road-going models due to its transfer of technology, Formula E also serves to challenge prevailing attitudes towards electric vehicles. “Not only are the races always very close,” contends Mestelan Pinon, “they are invariably spectacular, too, with the cars dancing between walls right in the heart of some of the world’s leading cities at speeds occasionally exceeding 125mph. These races – known as ePrix – offer us the opportunity to trial technical ideas in extreme conditions, while allowing us to demonstrate how advances can be made in the realms of both performance and range. That is positive for the image and reputation of electric vehicles, which are poised to become increasingly prevalent over the forthcoming years. What’s more, due to the information gleaned from our participation in Formula E, the teams at DS Automobiles have already been able to make technical enhancements to the DS 7 CROSSBACK’s software. Its plug-in hybrid version – the E-Tense 4X4, which is set to go on sale in 2019 – will reap even more of these benefits.”
Finally, it is important to note that all future DS models will each offer either a plug-in hybrid version or a full-electric version by 2025 when these power units are expected to account for more than a third of the French manufacturer’s vehicle sales.
A TECHNOLOGICAL SHOWCASE, COMFORT AND SAFETY
DS 7 CROSSBACK incorporates the very best driver aids and safety equipment that are presently available. From the entry-level specification upwards, all models are equipped with ABS, Emergency Braking Assistance with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (also fitted to versions with automatic transmission), an electronic stability programme (ESP), Hill Start Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking, Tyre Pressure Monitoring, Driver-Attention and Lane-Departure Warning systems, Cruise Control with Speed Limiter and even Traffic Sign Recognition. Depending on trim level, higher-end versions of the model come equipped with a range of other innovative features:
DS ACTIVE LED VISION: It is a completely new concept in the automotive world. The dynamic LED headlights (DS Active LED Vision) are not only pleasing to the eye, but produce a sweeping beam that adapts according to road conditions and vehicle speed. There are five fully automated modes: Parking, Town Beam, Country Beam, Motorway Beam and Adverse Weather. There are also Dynamic Bending Light and High Beam functions to complete a package that helps to make journeys significantly safer.
DS NIGHT VISION: Helps to make the invisible visible under the cover of darkness. Concealed within the grille, an infra-red camera is able to detect pedestrians or animals up to 100 metres ahead. It produces a dashboard alert – yellow, then red – that gives the driver time to react according to the potential hazard’s position.
It is the first time such a system has been fitted to a vehicle in this class.
DS CONNECTED PILOT: heralds a fresh step towards the concept of autonomous driving. The system works in conjunction with the car’s adaptive cruise control, which regulates road speed according to that of preceding traffic and acts on the steering to position the DS7 CROSSBACK accurately within its chosen lane (rather than necessarily right, left or centre) according to driving style and habits. Very useful in both traffic jams and on motorways, the system operates at speeds between 0mph standstill and 112mph (if and where permitted).
DS PARK PILOT: It is beneficial when it comes to tight spaces or narrow parking lots. Quite simply, DS PARK PILOT takes care of everything. When passing a parking space at speeds up to 18mph, the system will assess whether there is enough room for a DS 7 CROSSBACK and confirm as much to the driver. The latter has only to choose what type of parking is required (parallel or bay), press the Park button and then the magic begins: throttle, brake, steering… everything is automated. The system works when it’s time to leave the parking space, too.
DS DRIVER ATTENTION MONITORING: It is fitted as standard and detects any signs of distraction or drowsiness, alerting the driver if necessary. An infra-red camera is mounted above the steering wheel and another is located at the top of the windscreen. Together, they monitor the driver’s head movement, eyes (to see whether their eyelids close) and face (to see which way they are looking), as well as vehicle trajectory and steering wheel inputs. If the system detects any potential risk, an audible warning sounds and the message “Take a break” is displayed on the instrument panel to help avoid a potentially dangerous situation. It is the first time such a system has been fitted to a vehicle in this class.
DS ACTIVE SCAN SUSPENSION: It is a camera-assisted active suspension system that detects uneven road surfaces ahead of the car to permanently adjust the four dampers individually. To do this, a windscreen-mounted camera works in conjunction with four ride-height sensors and three accelerometers to analyse the road and car data such as speed, steering wheel able and braking. This information is transmitted in real time to a control unit, which then acts on the four wheels independently. Travelling comfort is considerably enhanced by the system, which is both predictive and active.
AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION: The new DS gearbox (Efficient Automatic Transmission with 8-speeds – ‘EAT8’) ensures outstanding ride comfort due to extremely smooth and silent gearshifts. A further benefit is reduced fuel consumption, which is reduced by 4% compared with an EAT6 transmission, and even by as much as 7% when the ECO mode (which includes Free Wheeling, a new feature inaugurated on the DS 7 CROSSBACK) is activated. The EAT8 automatic transmission can also be used in conjunction with ATC (Advanced Traction Control) for additional traction in slippery conditions.