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Plug-in hybrid DS 7 Crossback E-TENSE gains two-wheel drive, low-power option

DS is continuing down the route of plug-in hybrids for its model range with the launch of a new powertrain for the DS 7 Crossback E-TENSE. Offering slightly less power and two-wheel drive, the Crossback E-TENSE 225 will sit below the all-singing, all-dancing 4X4 version in the performance and – critically – price stakes.

When we tested the DS 7 Crossback E-TENSE 300 4X4 we found an awful lot to like about it. Comfortable, luxurious and genuinely quick, it is a left-field alternative to cars like the BMW X3 xDrive30e and Audi Q5 TFSIe. However, it's also an expensive choice and in our view, the price didn't quite make sense when the German rivals are better to drive and have superior on-board infotainment.

DS may well have provided the answer to the price problem with the DS 7 Crossback E-TENSE 225. Losing the four-wheel drive and dropping a bit of power should see this new variant come in a good wedge cheaper than the 4X4 range-topper. Given that the DS 7 isn't exactly a dynamic masterpiece, the drop in power shouldn't spoil anything.

Powertrain in detail

Much of what makes the DS 7 Crossback E-TENSE 225 good is shared with the 300, so it gets the PSA Group 1.6 litre turbo petrol engine and a 108bhp electric motor which is fitted directly to the eight-speed gearbox. The major difference is that the petrol engine has a lesser state of tune, meaning a total system power of 222bhp with 265.5lb-ft of torque to go with it.

Electricity is stored by the same 13.2kWh battery as the 4X4 version. Its location beneath the floor means the E-TENSE gets the same cavernous, 628 litre boot as the conventionally powered versions. Fuel capacity is less than the standard car by 20 litres, but efficiency should make up for this. On electric power only the DS 7 225 is good for up to 34 miles in regular driving and up to 45 miles at low speeds. Realistically, 30 miles is what you can expect day-to-day.

Under electric power (which is defaulted upon start-up) the car can attain 84mph. Once on the move there are two additional drive modes – hybrid, which optimises the petrol/electric balance, and sport which unleashes all available power. In the WLTP tests the DS 7 225 achieves between 176.6 and 201.8mpg which equates to tax-friendly emissions of 31-36g/km. On petrol power the car should achieve between 43.5 and 46.3mpg.

As with other PHEVs from DS, the DS 7 Crossback E-TENSE 225 has a raft of regenerative and on-the-move battery charging functions which DS say are derived from Formula E. A genuinely useful function is the E-SAVE mode which will charge the battery during a journey, enabling the final 12 miles to be completed under electric-only power, or to finish the journey with a fully charged battery.

DS supplies a domestic three-pin cable and Type 2 cable with the car. Using a 7.4kW wall box with the latter will see the car charged from zero to 100 per cent in 1hr 45mins.

Equipment and technology

You can read a detailed analysis of the kit that is available on the DS 7 over on our review of the Crossback E-TENSE 300 4X4 – and there's an awful lot of it if you opt for higher trim levels and start ticking boxes.

The DS 7 225 powertrain is available across all trim levels which include Bastille, Performance Line and Performance. As standard across all trim levels you get DS Active Scan suspension which analyses the road surface ahead and preps the suspension to iron out imperfections. It's a system that we thought worked well when we tried the range-topping 4X4 over in France.

Another party piece of all DS cars is in the high levels of sound proofing which makes driving or being driven in the car a serene experience, especially under electric power. DS Connected Pilot Level 2 autonomous driving, attention monitoring, night vision, park pilot and active LED headlights are optional across the range. A 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster doubles as a display for night vision and other cameras where fitted.

Less impressive is the infotainment which isn't on a par with other premium cars in the segment, but that aside there is a lot going for the DS 7 Crossback E-TENSE 225.

Price and availability

DS hasn't stated when the 225 will become available in the DS 7 range, or how much it will cost but given that one of the universal criticisms of the 4X4 was its price, we suspect it'll significantly undercut the £47k starting price of that car. That being the case, the 225 could well be the pick of the range.

We'll be looking to give you driving impressions as soon as we can.

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