DS may be playing the long game in its pursuit of Audi, BMW and Mercedes, according to PSA boss Carlos Tavares, but its second bespoke model in the space of a year will break cover at next month’s Paris Motor Show and, no surprise, it’s another SUV.
What is more of a surprise is that DS has confirmed what Auto Express revealed months ago – the DS 3 is morphing from one of Europe’s favourite superminis into a small SUV.
Like its bigger brother, the DS 7, the DS 3 gains the Crossback name to signify its SUV-ness. It’s still compact at 4,118mm long – 178mm longer than the popular hatch it replaces – but it gains rear doors and a whole host of tech thanks to the PSA group’s new compact CMP (Common Modular Platform) that’ll be used in everything from the new Peugeot 208 to the next Vauxhall Corsa.
That platform brings with it electrification with an all-electric E-Tense model arriving six months after petrol and diesel versions of the DS 3 Crossback at the end of next year.
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Proportionally, the DS 3 Crossback fills the small SUV perfectly; short, chunky and with plenty of premium touches like the Matrix LED headlights – not quite as fancy as those in the DS 7 Crossback, but giving the front end a touch of premium French flair. In fact, the DS 3 has more than a hint of DS 7 at the front, with the over-sized DS grille flanked by chromed DS wings and those slim lights, with vertical LED running lights, too.
The side view takes more getting used to with your eye drawn to a new interpretation of the shark fin design feature from the old car, described by Thierry Metroz, DS Style Director, as “part of the DS 3’s DNA”.
What was more harmonious in the hatch is less successful on a five-door car, sitting at the front of the rear door just behind the B-Pillar. The window line of the back door that wraps around the rear hatch sits strangely higher than that of the front door, too.
There are no visible window seals on the front doors either – a design that’s supposed to give a chunkier look to the metalwork. There is some nice detailing in the swage lines across the doors, contrasting roof and body colours, plus flush-fitting door handles – similar to those used by Jaguar and Land Rover – to add to the premium feel.
There’s no doubting the premium feel inside, too, with top-notch materials used on the dash and door tops. A smart 10-inch touchscreen dominates, with a digital display in front of the driver, too.
But the overall design inside – as with the DS 7 Crossback – is fussy, with touch sensitive controls arranged in a diamond formation on the dash. Some controls – notably the electric window on the centre console – are also haphazardly placed. At least DS is trying to do things differently.
That extends to some of the kit on offer, which you won’t find in similarly-sized SUVs. As well as the clever lights and door handles, you can get level two autonomy in the shape of DS’s Drive Assist, Smart Access to open the car via your mobile phone and an upmarket Focal audio set-up.
You’ll be able to choose your DS 3 Crossback in five French-themed trims, plus an initial La Première launch edition, all with French craftsmanship to the fore. “Refinement and attention to detail are what French luxury brands are famous for,” Eric Apode, DS’s Senior Vice President for Products, told us. “That along with technology are DS USPs – in 20 years that will be clear.”
Comfort will also be key to DS products and the DS 3 Crossback promises everything from comfy seats – which we can confirm with a decent amount of space in the front and back – to low levels of noise, vibration and harshness, and a chassis tuned to benefit the ride.
Engines will focus on petrol power with three PureTech units with 99, 128 and 148bhp, plus a 98bhp diesel. Then at the end of the year the E-Tense will arrive with its 100kW (134bhp) electric motor and 50kWh battery, which claims a realistic range of around 200 miles under the new WLTP tests. It’ll also be compatible with 100kW fast chargers for an 80 per cent charge in around 30 minutes.
DS has unashamedly spoken of targeting Audi in the past, so the DS 3 Crossback will line up against the likes of the Audi Q2 and MINI Countryman. When it arrives in Spring next year, expect prices to start at around £21,000.
Six new DS models in six years
The DS 7 and DS 3 Crossback models are the start of a product onslaught that will position the PSA’s luxury brand against established premium rivals. DS Automobiles CEO Yves Bonnefont promises a six-strong model range by 2023 – a line-up started by the DS 7 and DS 3 Crossbacks.
He also promises that every model will feature electrification from 2019. With the DS 3 E-Tense confirmed, that hints towards a plug-in hybrid version of the DS 7.
From 2025 every DS model launched will either be a plug-in hybrid or fully electric – there won’t be any petrol or diesel-only models after that time. Bonnefont also promised that DS will be the PSA Group’s tech leaders: “We’ll lead tech and innovation for the PSA Group before other brands,” he told us.
The idea behind DS is already paying off, though. “We have the best profit contribution per unit of PSA brands,” said Bonnefont.
What do you think of the new DS 3 Crossback SUV? Let us know in the comments section below…
source: AutoExpress Best Car Reviews (autoexpress.co.uk)