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First Drive

First Drive: DS 3 Crossback

The story:
The new DS3 Crossback takes aim at the Audi Q2 and Mini Countryman, with an electric model to follow later this year.
Category:Compact Crossover
Key rival:Audi Q2
DS3 Crossback PureTech 130
On sale:Now

You can’t fault DS for ambition. PSA’s premium arm has been a stand-alone brand only since 2015, but the company bosses believe its new generation of models are credible rivals for the well established premium players.

The latest is the DS 3 Crossback, which is also the first PSA model to use the new Common Modular Platform that’s been designed from the outset for electrification. Initially it will be available with three petrols and one diesel engine, but by the end of this year there will also be the E-Tense pure electric model (see panel, far right).

DS expects the petrol models to be the most popular. All three are 1.2-litre PureTech turbocharged three-cylinder units, with 101hp, 131hp, or 155hp.

First Drive-May 2019- DS 3 Crossback-Image 4The 131hp engine (badged 130) is expected to prove the top-seller. It’s a cracking engine, matching strong pulling power with a willingness to rev. Surprisingly it isn’t available with a manual gearbox, but the eight-speed automatic shifts smoothly.

In BIK terms, the 130 is a sensible choice, sitting in the 22% band with emissions from 109g/km. That compares with a minimum banding of 24% and emissions of at least 119g/km for the Audi Q2 petrol.

The PureTech 100 is even better on CO2 emissions, putting out 105g/km and sitting in the 21% BIK bracket, both pretty attractive numbers.

We haven’t driven the least powerful model, but we have the PureTech 155. It’s a little livelier than the 130, but not so much that we’d rush to spend the extra £1500.

With either engine, the DS 3 Crossback is an entertaining drive. The steering is incisive and direct without feeling nervous, and with the drive mode system in Sport, the ’box is quick to select a lower gear, even blipping the throttle on downchanges.

First Drive-May 2019- DS 3 Crossback-Image 5The ride is firm enough for a controlled and secure feel at speed, without seeming harsh around town. However, we’ll wait and see if the set-up feels as well judged on Britain’s notoriously pock-marked roads.

On motorways, the DS is refined and quiet, with engine noise settling into the background and the little wind and road noise kept in check.

So far, so good, but we do have some reservations. The cabin design is striking and most of the materials are well finished, but looks take precedence over logic in the layout of the switchgear.

Head and legroom are fine in the front, but rear legroom is very tight. What’s more, the boot’s 350-litre capacity is well beaten by the Audi Q2’s (405 litres) and Mini Countryman’s (450 litres).

Perhaps the biggest sticking point is price. The range starts from £21,550 rising to £33,950. It’s a good car, but that’s a lot for a B-segment SUV. As we said at the beginning, you can’t fault DS for ambition…


David Motton

The verdict

Attractive, different and good to drive, but the P11D values are high.