► Pure EV, diesel and petrol versions offered
► Q2, Countryman and UX rival
► Five-doors, circa £22k OTR
The baby SUV craze has a new contender – the DS 3 Crossback – from aspiring French brand DS. On sale in 2019, the compact crossover will be sold as a pure electric car, or with petrol and diesel engines. It’s a handsome, high-tech, five-door rival to the Audi Q2, Mini Countryman or Lexus UX, given the DS 3’s likely pricepoint. For it will cost between €25,000 and €42,000, so expect a UK starting price next spring around £22k – bang on Q2 quids.
Hang on, isn’t the DS3 a three-door hatchback?
It is – but not for much longer. While production will continue for some months, the three-door hatchback is being phased out and won’t be replaced. DS has six models in its plan, and this is the second of them, following the DS 7 Crossback. Both are SUVs, tapping phenomenal demand around the world – a small supermini doesn’t offer the same volume and profitability potential.
Fair enough. Talk me through the tech!
Executives say the DS 3 Crossback is true to the values that shaped the DS 7 – refinement, luxury and high-tech. Two novel features involve getting into the thing: the door handles only pop out when you venture with 1.5m of the DS 3, and it similarly locks itself as you walk away.
You’ll also be able to use a My DS smartphone app to unlock the car, and grant permission to relatives to use their ‘phones to unlock it and drive. Beware of having a row with your 17-year-old when out and about – you might get back to the car park to find yourself carjacked…
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It also brings the DS 7’s tech down to the small car segment as options: Level 2 driving assistance keeping the car cruising in-lane and away from the car in front at up to 112mph; automated parking in parallel and perpendicular spaces; and fancy LED matrix headlamps, with different beam intensities depending on whether you’re in town, countryside or approaching oncoming traffic. Emergency braking also monitors pedestrians and cyclists at night, as well as during the day and cars around the clock.
And an electric version feels pretty cutting edge too…
DS is presented as PSA Groupe’s lead-in brand for electrification, with the 7 going plug-in hybrid late next year, around the same time as the e-DS3 arrives. Or E-Tense, according to the suffix DS will slap on.
The 3 Crossback E-Tense has 50kWh of batteries in the floorpan, good for a range of 186 miles – that’s 18 miles more than Nissan’s Leaf can currently muster. That’s a like-for-like comparison according to the new, more stringent WLTP fuel consumption test. Trouble is, Hyundai’s Kona EV matches its range with its standard, 39kWh battery pack, and wallops it in 300-mile, 64kWh ‘long range’ guise.
Executives counter with the fact you can charge it to 80 percent within 30 minutes – though consumers would probably trade that 10-minute headstart for more range. A 130kW motor – producing 192lb ft of torque – spins the front wheels, sufficiently punchy for 0-62mph in 8.7secs. Boot space of 352 litres is identical to the combustion engine car’s; there’s no additional trunk in the nose.
The chassis is the latest-generation of PSA’s CMP (common modular platform), hence the ability to package battery cells. On average, the platform is 40kg lighter than the version used by the Citroën C3 Aircross or Peugeot 208, and more flexible to manipulate into different sizes. That said, the 4.11m-long DS 3 is only about 30mm shorter and wider than the C3 Aircross – but it’s more than 100mm lower, which does wonders for the stocky stance.
This Crossback looks to have more about it than the DS 7…
‘Proportions are the most important thing: from the beginning we worked with the engineers to create the platform,’ says Thierry Metroz, DS head of design. ‘When you see it on the road, the 3 looks very dynamic, very playful.’
The 3 hatchback may be on the way out, but its distinctive shark fin is carried over to the Crossback’s body side. ‘It’s part of the brand’s DNA,’ says Metroz. Otherwise the side is deliberately clean – there’s no roof aerial or seal-hiding rubber or chrome where sideglass meets bodyside, for example – but there is a strong rear shoulder crease, ‘to give an SUV-stance,’ says Metroz.
The DS face – enlarged grille and vertical daytime running lights – is present and correct, along with headlamps that are deliberately kinked at the top to draw attention to their matrix LED capabilities. The thin rear lamps are connected by a chrome strip, just like the 7’s. Three different roof colours will be offered, along with some vibrant body colours among the 10 different paintjobs.
It’s certainly far more avant-garde than the sober, Audi-lite exterior of the DS 7. Inside, the 7’s rack of quirky switches beside the gear selector is carried over, but the 3 dashboard’s series of diamond-shaped details – air vents and touchscreen shortcut buttons – is a nice feature. The width of the dash is accentuated by having the side vents mounted in the doors. Nappa leather and Alcantara finishes – the latter overkill on DS 7 Performance trims – will again be offered.
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Eric Apode, DS Automobiles product chief, promises that the 3 will prioritise comfort and noise reduction, as the 7 has to mixed effect. That suggests the 3 will be at home on motorway as well as in cities, where its dinky dimensions should come into their own. Noise insulation measures include thicker door panels and glass, and a windscreen optimised to dampen soundwaves.
And the combustion engines? PSA’s 1.2-litre Puretech three-cylinder petrol comes with 100 and 130bhp, or a 155bhp version making its debut. This cracks the 0-62mph acceleration benchmark in 8.3secs. There’s a 1.5-litre BlueHDI engine too. An eight-speed automatic transmission will be offered; 70 percent of customers are expected to choose this. All the bits will be bolted together at the Poissy plant in Paris, home to the 208 – and the outgoing DS 3.