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First Drive: DS 3 Crossback E-Tense

By / 2 years ago / Road Tests / No Comments

Electric power transforms the DS 3 Crossback discovers Jonathan Musk.

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SECTOR B-SUV   PRICE £30,490-£35,990 (including Plug-in Car Grant of £3,500)   RANGE 200 miles (WLTP)   CO2 0g/km

Key to DS’s success as a standalone manufacturer in its own right is electrification. And, key to Groupe PSA’s future (and every other manufacturer for that matter) is electrification.

Enter the new generation of electric cars, finally taking over the reigns from the now long in the tooth Peugeot Ion.

The Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa both share underpinnings with the DS 3 Crossback, and the new electric version is no different. This means the car benefits from a well-sorted powertrain that encompasses a 50kWh battery with an 136hp electric motor powering the front wheels, just as the e-208 and Corsa-e do.

Performance is brisk, with 0-62mph taking 8.7 seconds, while the 200-mile range should prove more than adequate for most. Rapid- and fast-charging take 30 minutes to 80% at 100kW and between 5-8 hours at 7-11kW chargers respectively.

Internally and externally, the car is unchanged from the petrol and diesel models, and comes with DS’s standard trio of trims. The only electric giveaways are a few badges and an electric-dedicated button on the centre-console. Aside from that, electric-specific modifications include additional sound insulation that would be more typical of a big luxury cruiser. Occupant space is also unhindered by electric gubbins that lurk beneath, making this a true no-compromise car compared to the internal combustion powered variants, at least within single-charge range.

The result is a car that feels more together than the petrol or diesel alternatives. It’s fast, responsive and joyously quiet. Thanks to its low centre of gravity, handling is nimble with precise yet not overly sporty steering. Regenerative braking can be activated too, allowing for near-single pedal driving, and drive-modes make a considerable difference to the car’s dynamics. However, ‘regen’ can’t be turned off fully, which hinders the maximum possible efficiency with no coasting option.

The big question is whether the E-Tense is affordable and on that front, DS has offered indicative business pricing from £377 per month via monthly rentals from Free2Move Lease, excluding maintenance, or from £463 per month on a PCH deal (each based on 6+47 months, with projected 10,000 miles per year). This works out as only marginally more than the petrol variant when taking into account running and service costs, DS reckons.

The price also includes access to DS’s bespoke luxury “Only You” suite of services, that offer customers an added “je ne sais quoi” in terms of exclusive events and offers.

Compared to rivals, pricing is surprisingly keen, considering for example the Hyundai Kona Electric with admittedly larger battery starts around £35k. However, if compared to electric challengers with smaller batteries (or its Peugeot/Vauxhall brethren), the DS starts to appear expensive. In other words, you understandably pay for range, but whatever you conclude, the DS is comfortably more alluring to live with than most thanks to premium-level luxury, including segment firsts such as matrix LED headlights. In terms of technology, it also benefits from a mapping system that anticipates range over a journey and suggests charging stops, adding to electric-ownership peace of mind. However, it’s a fiddly system to operate.

Orders are open now for the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense, with first deliveries commencing from January 2020. Orders placed this year also receive a free charge point courtesy of Pod Point.

The Verdict
The E-Tense manages to appeal more than the petrol or diesel variants, but if you don’t need the range there are cheaper alternatives.

The Lowdown
KEY FLEET MODEL: DS 3 Crossback E-Tense Performance Line
STRENGTHS: Premium equipment and stylish interior
WEAKNESSES: No coasting mode, fiddly infotainment

Star Rating

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.