By Breda Corrigan
The DS 3 is a small premium SUV that is aimed squarely at the Audi Q2 and BMW X1, along with higher-end versions of the Mazda CX-30, Toyota C-HR and Ford Puma. The DS brand is the luxury arm of iconic French brand Citroën, (now part of the Stellantis Group which includes Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Fiat, Opel, Alfa Romeo and JEEP). The DS 3 name was used before on a stylish 3-door hatchback that was marketed across Europe as a Citroën DS 3, but in 2016 the Citroën part of the name was discarded, and DS then became a standalone brand in its own right.
Three Trim Options.
The new DS 3 Crossback is only available as a five door hatchback, and is based on the Common Modular Platform (CMP), which underpins the latest Peugeot 208/2008, Opel Corsa/Mokka and Citroën C4. This means that the DS 3 Crossback was designed from the ground up to accommodate both petrol and diesel powertrains, as well as all-electric power, thereby ensuring that the layout and practicality of the new DS 3 E-TENSE isn’t compromised with issues such as battery placement taking up vital boot space. The DS 3 E-TENSE has the same 350-litre boot capacity as its Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) siblings, as well as identical interior space and ergonomics. As with the DS 3 Crossback ICE line-up, there are three trim levels to choose from in the DS 3 E-TENSE range; Elegance, Performance Line and Prestige, but only one electric motor and battery combination. The standard 100kW (136bhp) electric motor is powered by a 50kWh Lithium-ion battery, resulting in a claimed WLTP driving range of up to 319kms.
Futuristic and Upmarket.
The DS 3 Crossback’s cabin is eye-catching in every respect, and its futuristic and upmarket design certainly makes the BMW X1 look plain by comparison. The DS 3 Crossback features a fully digital cockpit that was created to make important driving information instantly available, with controls that are placed directly at the driver’s fingertips. Advanced technology, and a high driving position, allow drivers to concentrate on the road ahead and access controls via the wide 10.3-inch HD touchscreen, with driving information displayed on the 7-inch digital display. Beneath the touchscreen, the central fascia is spectacularly stylish with the touch controls and two central air vents designed in the shape of diamonds. Overall comfort inside the DS 3 is exceptional. For the front and rear seats, DS engineers have incorporated double density foam using an innovative treatment to give a base that is enveloping and of high quality. Additionally, the use of superior insulation in critical areas around the DS 3 Crossback ensures that road noise is kept to an absolute minimum.
The DS 3 Crossback looks distinctive from every angle, with E-TENSE badging being the only unique feature to identify the all-electric powertrain that lies beneath the stylish bodywork. Thanks to a bold front end with a large grille taking centre stage, a distinctive kick in the window line on the car’s profile, and large badging to the rear, the new DS 3 strikes quite a pose on the road. The Crossback’s flush door handles pop out when you unlock the car, providing terrific visual drama in the process. There are plenty of personalisation options, with nine exterior colours, three contrasting roof colours and multiple alloy wheel design/colour combinations available throughout the range.
Rapid Charge Option.
Charging the DS 3 Crossback E-TENSE from 0-100% via a 7.4kW wallbox charger will take 7 hours and 45 minutes, with a 10-80% charge time of just 30 minutes from a 100kW public rapid-charge point. The DS 3 E-TENSE comes with a three-pin plug cable and a cable for public charge points too, while an App that allows you to monitor charging, as well as set the interior temperature ahead of time, can be downloaded on to a Smartphone for added convenience.
My test car was a DS 3 E-TENSE Elegance which was finished in Artense Grey metallic paintwork. Key standard features include 17” ‘MADRID’ diamond-cut alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, cruise control, alarm, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless start and a host of safety features. On the road is where the all-electric powertrain proves itself to be inspirational. Thanks to the instant rush of torque, the immediate surge associated with so many electric cars is ever present. The car builds power fast enough to keep up with fast moving traffic on a motorway, while the car’s soft throttle response makes it very relaxing to drive. Evan at motorway speeds, refinement is particularly impressive, with very little in the way of electric motor whine, wind and road noise. Around town, light and accurate steering makes the car easy to position and manoeuvre.
Verdict, Cost & Warranty.
The new DS 3 Crossback E-TENSE is an impressive electric SUV that has refinement, luxurious comfort and unique styling on its side. With a starting price of €38,949 (on the road and inclusive of an SEAI Grant and VRT relief) it is quite a lot more expensive that its petrol and diesel siblings, but immediate savings can be made due to ultra-low running costs, reduced maintenance and annual road tax of just €120. A comprehensive 5-year/100,000km warranty is standard across the entire DS model range.