CITROEN'S spin-off brand, DS, has come up with a real contender for the SUV-style market segment in its DS7 Crossback model, but its bog-standard two-wheel-drive system will not appeal that much to serious rural users – though a four-wheel-drive hybrid version is arriving soon.

It will be an affordable option, though, as the range starts at under £30k for the entry-level Elegance models and even as you progress through the other three trim levels to the top diesel-engined one to the top-of-the-range Ultra Prestige version, the cost will be just a tad above £43k.

The DS7 is quite a looker and does stand out from the crowd a bit, with a lower stance than most of the Land Rover products, but that's no bad thing as it means it handles well enough, even when pushed.

This higher spec' machine had a load of toys for the money – things like 20-inch alloys, full leather interior, electric seating, all-round parking sensors with camera and the thing than continues to confound me, wireless smartphone charging, electric seats and ambient lighting. For those with a lot of motorway driving, then the lane assist and cruise controls will be a benefit too.

Inside the the cabin takes a bit of getting used to. Citroen's design team seem to have aspiration of being airplane pilots and there's a host of switchgear both at hand level and on a top control panel. When you get into the cockpit (for that's what it feels like) you have to curb a tendency to tell everyone how to fasten their seatbelts and appraise them of there the lifejackets are! It takes a bit of getting used to and might just be too funky for most.

So, style is a key word in the press bumph, and there's no doubt it is different, but better? The seats were well designed though and can come with either nappa or Alcantara leather, depending on trim level. Then there's the boon of heated seats with a massage function – ideal for those cold mornings.

Being a Citroen (sorry, DS), it is, of course, closely related to some others in the PSA stable, like the Peugeot 3008 – it is, in fact, built in the same factory as it – and comes with a choice of 1.5 and 2.0-litre diesel engines, or a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol, again with two power outputs.

Citroen (DS) has always being famed for innovative suspension systems – like those push-button variable suspension versions as far back as the 1970s – and the DS7s in the upper echelons have a segment-first active suspension system. This combines a forward-facing camera with adaptive dampers to perfectly adjust the car’s suspension for the road surface it’s about to cover – ideal for cavorting over those potholes!

It probably adds up to giving the DS7 one of the best rides in the business, proving to be discreet and active, taking a lot of the 'thinking' out of driving.

The PSA division has some great diesel offerings and the BlueHDI 180 diesel is one of the best. Experience with some older Citroens testify to the smooth and torquey stable of engines available for use in the DS range.

There is a choice of four engines and all are matched to an eight-speed automatic gearbox available. Two of the choices are petrol, the four-cylinder PureTech 180 or PureTech 225, with these two engines fuel economy gets close to 50mpg.

Two turbocharged diesel engines are also in the vanguard – the BlueHDi 130 with a manual gearbox or BlueHDi 180 (as tested)and these are capable of averaging 70.6mpg and 57.6mpg, respectively ... at least on paper. In reality, they get pretty close, but no coconut!

New model goes 'green'

A fifth 'green' version will arrive sometime in 2019 in the shape of a high-performance plug-in hybrid petrol-electric vehicle (PHEV) – the E-Tense 4x4 will have 300hp available, four-wheel-drive and a 35-mile driving range in zero emissions mode. To achieve this, it combines a 200hp petrol engine with two electric motors of 80kW combined with a battery output of 90kW. It is likely to cost about £50k though.

The powertrain combines a 200hp (147kW) petrol engine and is accompanied by two 109hp (80kW) electric engines and the new eight-speed automatic gearbox. These offer a combined maximum deployment power of 300hp with torque of 450Nm, and drive to all four wheels. However, it can cover only 31 miles in all-electric mode, though E-Save mode allows you to 'save' enough energy to drive in all-electric mode for the last 6-12 miles of a journey and a high-definition touchscreen shows to the driver in real time the distance, which can be driven in zero emission mode or where the charging stations available nearby.