First Drive: DS 3 Crossback
Second in their new model assault, the DS 3 turns SUV, and Martyn Collins reckons it’s their most convincing model yet.
SECTOR Small SUV PRICE £21,550 – £33,950 FUEL 45.7–62.7mpg CO2 97-128g/km
The original DS 3 has done a pretty good job of chasing the MINI hatch since 2007. But three-door superminis no longer work for PSA’s premium brand, so it has now morphed into a five-door compact SUV – taking on the bigger Countryman and Audi’s Q2.
From the front, the DS 3 has the latest version of the wings grille and distinctive headlights with optional matrix technology. The front is finished off with driving lights curving their way down the front edge of the wing. From the side, there are flush-fit door handles, the shark-fin detail on the rear window line paying homage to the original DS 3, plus slick hidden window seals. At the back, the DS 3 looks more conventional with the horizontal high-set rear lights.
Move inside and the driving position has plenty of room for even the tallest and the seats are comfortable. There’s lots of quality soft-touch and metal trim, plus the digital instruments are easy to read.
Diamonds are a DS shape, and they’re a key feature in the DS 3’s dashboard – especially the centre-console. I’m sure in everyday use you’d get use to the rather characterful, Citroën-like haphazard nature of this switchgear – but on first acquaintance it’s quite confusing.
Space in the back is good, even headroom – although the high window line plus the ‘fin’ detail make it feel claustrophobic. The 350-litre boot is deep, shaped for practicality and can be extended when folded.
The DS 3 is the first to benefit from the new CMP platform, designed for internal combustion engines, and offered in 100, 130 and new 155 versions of the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol and the 100hp version of the Blue HDi 100 diesel. Cleverer, is that this platform also supports full electric power with the battery pack hidden under the floor. As such, interior space isn’t compromised compared to conventional petrol and diesel versions.
The PureTech 130 petrol is expected to be the most popular choice, with 47.1mpg fuel consumption (WLTP) and CO2 emissions as low as 109g/km (NEDC Correlated). Go diesel, and the DS 3 offers 62.7mpg and 97g/km emissions.
Elegance starts at a not insubstantial £21,550 and includes rear parking sensors, keyless go and a 7.0-inch touchscreen. Performance-Line adds LED rear lights and aluminium pedals. Prestige is expected to be the best-selling trim for fleet, and has automatic air-conditioning, auto wipers, front parking sensors, a 10.0-inch HD touchscreen, DS Connected 3D Navigation and Wi-Fi. Range-topping Ultra Prestige adds 18-inch alloy wheels, head-up display, keyless entry, matrix LED headlamps, reversing camera, driver’s seat electric lumbar adjustment and massage function. There’s also a ‘La Premier’ launch edition available until late this year, which adds the Premium Advanced Safety Pack, active cruise control, high beam assist and wireless phone charging.
We got to try the 130 and 155 petrols and, more excitingly, the E-Tense EV version. On the road, it’s the responsive steering, tidy handling and comfy ride that stand out. The refined 130 feels a bit slow off the mark, but speed quickly builds whereas the new 155 is more willing. Both were well-matched to the EAT8 eight-speed automatic. Three drive modes are offered with both these engines; Sport makes the biggest difference, quickening up the steering and throttle response.
The biggest compliment I can pay to the all-electric E-Tense version is how similar it felt to the petrol versions. Sport mode gives the full 138hp and feels the most excited off the mark, but even in Normal and Eco modes, the electric DS 3 remains smooth and responsive – it’s one to watch later this year when launched.
Key Fleet Model: PureTech 130 Prestige
Strengths: Interesting looks, keen drive, E-Tense EV version
Weaknesses: Expensive, Claustrophobic rear space
The DS 3 Crossback is the most convincing DS model yet – it looks great, drives well and offers the first all-electric PSA model in the form of the DS 3 E-Tense. But it’s expensive and the rear space might not suit passengers and children.
IFW Star Rating: 3/5