THIRTY years ago, Margaret Thatcher test drove the ‘saviour’ of the British car industry – the Rover 800 saloon - in a media event stages outside 10 Downing Street. Proving that, contrary to popular perception, the lady was for turning, Mrs T had practised her parking and reversing manoeuvres in secret long before the big day to avoid any embarrassing mishaps.

At the time Rover was delighted by the positive publicity – and car manufacturers haven’t been slow to enlist politicians for a photo op ever since.

The latest national leader to blag a free test drive is French President Emmanuel Macron who took his first journey to the Champs-Elysées in the all-new DS7 Crossback.

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Soon you will be able to make like Monsieur Macron when the DS7 Crossback goes on UK sale in early 2018.

DS is, of course, the luxury arm of Citroen and this is its first SUV for Europe. It sits on the EMP2 platform that already underpins various Peugeot/Citroen products, albeit with extra stiffening measures to improve its ride and refinement.

With prices starting at £28,050, the Crossback is good value – think Audi Q5 size and space for not much more than its little brother, the Q3.

In the UK the model range will start with the Elegance model powered by Peugeot-Citroen’s trusty BlueHDI four-cylinder turbo diesel. If you want that with an automatic gearbox you’ll be needing the Performance Line model which starts at £31,435 for the 130bhp model rising to £34,985 for a PureTech 225bhp petrol with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The poshest Crossbacks are the Prestige an Ultra Prestige models which will cost up to £43,535, putting the DS7 firmly in Audi/Range Rover territory.

The BlueHDI diesel may sound a bit weedy (130 bhp isn’t the motoring equivalent of having a ferret down your trousers) but its 250Nm of torque should make up for the outright lack of horsepower and fuel economy of 70.6 mpg should put a smile on your face. DS claims the petrol turbos are good for 48.7 mpg but we still confidently predict that the diesels will prove more popular.

The fifth version arrives in mid-2019 as the high-performance Plug-in Hybrid petrol-Electric Vehicle (PHEV) – ‘E-Tense 4x4’, with 300hp, four-wheel-drive system and 35mile driving range in zero emissions mode.

The Crossback is stuffed with gadgets and gizmos. Active Scan Suspension anticipates defects in the road through a camera that detects bumps and potholes up to five metres ahead and continuously, and independently, controls the four shock absorbers to make them firmer or softer. DS Connected Pilot is a first step towards autonomous driving (standard on Ultra Prestige models) and DS Night Vision gives day and night visibility.

Externally the Crossback’s most talked about feature will be the front lights – little LED cubes which swivel into position (just like the original 1960s DS) and shape the light beam to give the best view of the road ahead. They pulse purple when you unlock the doors for no other reason than it looks damn cool.

At launch DS spouted lots of nonsense about how the Crossback’s interior “take their style cues from Paris, the birthplace of the brand”.

So the Bastille is said to be the inspiration for the padded upholstery and bits of gold and silver dotted around the cabin, the Nappa leather upholstery echoes the Paris Opera house and the wooden inlays call to mind (according to DS) the magnificence of the Elysee Palace.

What we can say is that the interior looks as dramatic as the exterior with a wrap-around fascia and a huge landscape format colour touchscreen. Double glazing, leather everything (including the doors and dashboard) and funky-looking switchgear are all BMW-baiting features.