New Car Review: DS3 Crossback Elegance E-TENSE

DS3 Starting Price: €28,990

Price as tested: €38,949

THE DS3 CROSSback e-tense

GOOD STUFF

  • Stylish design, good EV powertrain with a consistent range.

BAD STUFF

  • Small infotainment screen, cramped rear legroom, price.

WHAT IS IT?

The DS3 Crossback marks the French brand’s (they are the premium version of Citroën) return to Ireland (alongside the larger DS7) and this time around the brand is being managed by Irish motoring powerhouse, the Gowan Group (think Peugeot and more latterly, Opel) and that should mean better investment in all areas, including Marketing and the retailer network. 

There are around 1,500 existing DS owners in Ireland, who you would expect will be first on the brand’s Christmas card list in time for January. Anyone who went for a DS first time around went for the promise of gallic flair in a more upmarket package and with this new DS3 Crossback it would appear to be more of the same, just with even great levels of quality on display and perhaps crucially these days – an all-electric powertrain. 

This model has been rummaging around in the family shed and borrowed the excellent 100kW (136PS) electric motor and 50kW battery pairing from the not-too-dissimilar Peugeot e2008 and how placed it in this more Lounge like DS3 Crossback body. The DS3 Crossback range starts with a more traditional petrol and diesel offering of 1.2-litre petrol with either 100- or 130hp (or 155hp is offering in the Prestige trim) or a 110hp 1.5-litre diesel. Size-wise this model feels about the size of a slightly tall Volkswagen Golf rather than a Crossover and it comes with very dramatic styling including stunning LED daytime running headlights. 

clever design details abound on the DS3 Crossback

HOW ABOUT THE LOOKS?

This will be the primary reason someone buys a DS3 or perhaps even any DS as the brand is really flexing its styling muscles and flair with this car. It is a plethora of angles, some perhaps a little over-cooked, but what this vehicle is, is distinctive. It is physically smaller than it looks in pictures. And the stats cement this visual view and it measures 4,118mm in length, 143mm less than a comparable Volkswagen ID.3 and with a 207mm shorter wheelbase. 

The wheels at each corner look, improve the handling and make a more go-kart feel. Flush fitting door handles are the DS3 Crossback’s main exterior party piece and be deployed via the key fob or by approaching the car in some models. It does look cool, but it might perhaps be a little over-complicated, especially on a very frosty morning or 5-years into ownership. 

DS is a premium brand related to CItroën

WHAT IS THE INSIDE LIKE?

When you get into the interior of the car, this is where things really start to become very distinct and perhaps divisive for some. The interior fit and finish is something to behold, with some beautiful materials used. The switches on the centre console for the windows and emergency brake have been beautifully engineered. There is, we would imagine, a deliberately Lounge feel to the cabin, with a cosy feel to the interior. 

Rear space is limited enough. If you are tall and have to push the driver seat back the whole way, legroom in the rear becomes pretty non-existent except for smaller kids. This doesn’t feel like it would be a hugely useful family car, especially given the 350-litre luggage space isn’t exactly class-leading. 

One expects the Avantgarde professional or chic empty-nester that might go for this model won’t be too phased by this. The infotainment system on our test car (in Elegance spec) had a 7” screen which feels small by 2021 standards (10” on a Volkswagen ID.3 and 12” on a Hyundai IONIQ 5) and you have to go up to Prestige spec before you get the larger 10” display. The infotainment system is a little fiddly, working best with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but even then you toggle between controls via buttons rather than being controlled all on the touchscreen. Some will prefer this, however. 

the interior is beautiful, but you only get a 7″ infotainment screen unless you opt for the prestige version

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

It is a DS3 and it is an electric car, so it is both very comfortable and very quiet. As you might expect there is a super compliant ride. Steering is light, but not without feeling. The brake pedal feel is quite squishy and there is a moment or two before the pedal gives your brain, via your right foot, the signal that anything is happening by way of ceasing propulsion. But we did some long trips in this car and it was very comfortable to pilot. 

The EV powertrain is a tried and trusted one at this point (eCorsa, e208, e2008, Opel Mokka) and we drove on quite a varied mix of roads, including two 600km round trips and the car performed perhaps better than expected. It returned on average, 17.1 kWh per 100km and that means it would most likely do an average of 289km on a single charge which isn’t a whole lot away from their WLTP range of 319km. On our motorway drives, we were, as you might expect, less efficient but even with a 50kWh battery, a motorway drive of around 240-250km on a single charge should be doable. This is a decent electric car.

Come off the motorway and this is quite an entertaining car to drive if slightly bereft of much feedback from the steering. It is an agile car and very suited to town driving in particular. This really would be a great urban vehicle where in particular, we feel this powertrain could perform very well between charges. If you spend a lot of time going longer distances, get something with a slightly bigger battery. 

WHICH ONE SHOULD I BUY?

Well in truth, it should probably be this electric one, but it most likely won’t be the one that sells in big numbers as the sub-€30,000 1.2-litre petrol will probably (we haven’t driven it yet) suit the car better. 

It also weighs 353kg less than the E-TENSE version (or about the same as a family of four less) and for now, might end up being the most popular model. This E-TENSE version is good, but for the price of the entry-level one you could have Peugeot’s e2008 in GT spec with the added leather upholstery (€37,766), or a Volkswagen ID.3 in Style spec (€37,111) or indeed a Hyundai IONIQ 5 (€37,995), the latter in particular being a much larger car. However, in electric guise, the DS3’s greatest threat is probably its own, very handsome and capable e2008 stablemate. 

the e-tense version starts at over €38,000

IS IT SAFE? 

The DS3 Crossback scored four stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests in 2019 and comes with a standard Safety Pack, including an Emergency Braking System, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Speed Limit Recognition, and Recommendation and an Intelligent Speed Adaptation. You also get front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. Move up the Prestige specification and you get the Advances Safety Pack with items like Extended Emergency Braking System, Speed Limit Recognition and Recommendation and Intelligent Speed Adaptation. 

VERDICT: Stylish, unique but pricing of the EV version might hold it back

The DS3 Crossback is a good signal of better things to come for DS, but in E-TENSE guise looks a little too pricey, hurt by its cousins in particular. The e2008 in GT spec or the electric Opel Mokka Elite (€34,444) are going to be tricky to ignore. However, as an honest-to-goodness 1.2-litre 100hp petrol urban crossover, the DS3 Crossback might find some new lovers. 

Spec Check:

DS3 Crossback E-TENSE Elegance Electric Car

Engine: 100kW Electric Motor with 50kW Lithium-Ion battery

Power: 100kW (136PS) 

Torque: 260Nm 

0-100km/h: 8.7 seconds

Fuel Economy: Range of 319km on WLTP (we managed up 289km on a full charge)

Top Speed: 150 km/h

Transmission: Single-Speed Automatic

Co2: 0g/km

Annual Motor Tax: A4 €120

Luggage Capacity: 350-litres with the seats up, which can extend out to 1,050-litres with the rear seats folded. 

Price as tested: €38,949

Check out our video on the new DS3 Crossback E-TENSE on YouTube

For more information log-on to https://www.dsautomobiles.ie/

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