DS7 Vauban: French Flair and Fortitude

The French are known for many things: fine dining, haute couture and an unmistakable flair when it comes to automotive design. 

DS, a nameplate synonymous with some of the prettiest cars in history, promises to bring a French luxury savoir-faire to a German-dominated automotive sector. 

Their latest release aims at those who value protection above all else. Based on their flagship DS7 SUV, the DS7 Vauban is the second armoured project DS has produced with the WELP group. 

After being released in 2018, the DS7 has been incredibly successful across Europe but by no surprise most popular in France. The proof is in the parfait since the DS7 has been the best-selling Premium SUV and PHEV since 2019 according to DS. 

In 2021, DS presented French President Emmanuel Macron with the DS7 Crossback Élysée. Based on a DS7 E-TENSE 4×4 300, the Élysée is a variant exclusively built for the French President with unique features. These include a lengthened wheelbase by 20cm, individual rear seats that replace the bench, integrated police lights, detachable flagpoles, a special telecommunications system, and of course, enough armour plating and bulletproof glass to hold off a small militia. 

The introduction of the DS7 Crossback Élysée sparked enquiries from foreign diplomats, dignitaries and embassies across Europe. DS saw a genuine demand for a more competitively priced armoured car, thus the conception of the DS7 Vauban. 

The DS7 Vauban provides a competitive proposition within the armoured car market, it offers DS refinement combined with discreet armour plating entirely manufactured in France. 

The name Vauban pays homage to Sébastien Le Prestre, Marquis of Vauban – A French military engineer who worked under Louis XIV to design over 150 fortresses across Europe. A fitting name for a car that aims to protect the occupants from the dangers of their surroundings.

The Vauban starts life as a DS7 E-TENSE 4×4 300 then travels 20 miles down the road to Hérimincourt where WELP Group fit it with VPAM 4 grade armour made out of HPPE (High Performance Polyethylene), armoured steel and 22mm-thick-bulletproof-glass. This level of armour aims to protect the occupants from the likes of handguns and 9mm submachine guns, perfect for your drives through the more questionable arrondissements of the French capital.

Image Source: DS Automobiles

Image Source: DS Automobiles

There’s also an arsenal of optional extras you can specify such as integrated police lights, a siren with panic alarm, detachable flag poles, a fresh air system to combat teargas attacks, an automatic fire extinguisher, and an intercom system which allows you to listen and communicate to the outside world. Much like Bugatti, DS also offers a Sur Measure program which enables bespoke personalisation to deliver bespoke exterior body colours and interior embroidery. 

In addition to protecting the occupants from mild firefights, the DS7 Vauban promises to retain the agility and dynamic qualities of the DS7. The additional armour and bulletproof glass comes in at a mere 164kg, thanks to the HPPE used in the armour plating which offers the same protection as steel or Kevlar at half the weight. This means the DS7 Vauban equipped with a 300hp 1.6L 4-cylinder petrol plug-in-hybrid that will see 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds, just .2 seconds slower than the standard DS7. 

Image Source: DS Automobiles

Image Source: DS Automobiles

I got put behind the wheel of a DS7 E-TENSE 4×4 300 with an additional 164kg in the rear to simulate the driving experience of the Vauban. Much to my disappointment, regardless of my insistence, the team at DS wouldn’t shoot at me whilst driving – Something about insurance and health and safety. Boo. 

On a closed proving ground just outside of Paris, I put the DS7 to its paces with a high-speed road course, and high-speed oval ring finishing with an agility and emergency braking test. Given we were 3 men on board with the additional weight and a flat battery, the DS7 was handled as expected in wet conditions – then again, this is not marketed as a performance vehicle by any means. The interior is embellished with triangular accents, bold lines and nappa leather. The interior is more visually stimulating than its German rivals but may be too loud for some. The ride, even when ferried around at 217 km/h, was incredibly comfortable thanks to the DS7’s Active Scan Suspension. 

The DS7 Vauban is available to anyone to purchase without the additional licences or training and can be made to order with a 6-month turnaround time. The cost you ask? The DS7 Vauban starts at € 165,000 excluding VAT which I’ve been assured is very reasonable for the armoured car market but then again, I’ve never seen that filter on AutoTrader. 

So if you’re a diplomat, person of interest or person of questionable character with a penchant for French luxury SUVs, the DS7 Vauban may just be the car for you. 


Roger Chan

Roger was born and raised in Essex, surrounded by the car culture of the late 90’s and early 00’s which has fuelled his adoration of cars ever since. The proud son of two Hong Kong immigrants, Roger has an equal passion for cuisine, travel and exploring new cultures. Since 2015, when he started pursuing photography Roger has worked with some of the world's most significant car manufacturers from McLaren to Maserati and BMW. Roger’s work has been featured across The Review's automotive articles and his work can be seen via his social accounts.

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