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First Drive

First Drive: DS 3 Crossback E-Tense

DS 3 Crossback E-Tense Ultra Prestige
The story: The first of the new breed of full electric vehicles from the PSA Group arrives in the form of premium brand DS’s first EV, based on its 3 Crossback small crossover model
Category:Premium compact crossover
Key rival:Kia e-Niro
Efficiency:200 miles range
On sale:Now

The DS brand has, it’s fair to say, had fairly minimal impact on the UK car scene since it arrived into the market. But a pair of new plug-in models under the new E-Tense branding could be what it needs to carve a niche and raise awareness.

The first of this pairing was the DS 7 Crossback E-Tense plug-in hybrid (driven in issue 64 and at, and arriving alongside that is the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense, a full-electric model with an official 200-mile range.

It’s available in the top three DS 3 Crossback trim levels of Performance Line, Prestige and Ultra Prestige, costing £6140 more than the 155hp petrol version.

First Drive- January 2020-DS 3 Crossback E-Tense-Image 1Battery packaging doesn’t compromise interior space, with the 350-litre boot matching those of the petrol and diesel versions thanks to a different rear axle, and the company says the car weighs 300kg more than its petrol sibling.

The DS 3 E-Tense doesn’t have the adjustable regeneration modes some electric vehicles can offer, just the regular light regen or an enhancement via dropping the car into ‘B’ on the lever. It’s a noticeable difference, although it doesn’t operate when the battery is fully charged, so won’t work at the start of a journey.

The throttle is surprisingly numb, which means the electric response of the DS 3 Crossback doesn’t feel as instantaneous as that of most electric vehicles, which is exacerbated on the car’s Eco setting. Switching to Sport just makes the steering much heavier. Still DS claims it has worked to reduce noise and vibration levels, which can be amplified by the absence of engine noise, and so it proves in terms of the quiet progress at all speeds.

First Drive- January 2020-DS 3 Crossback E-Tense-Image 5DS is keen to point out that for the foreseeable future, its DS 3 Crossback E-Tense is the only full-electric premium small crossover, and that puts the brand in a useful position. Other less premium electric small SUV rivals include the Hyundai Kona and Kia e-Niro, both of which have a longer range, but cost a similar amount without benefiting from some of the premium touches, particularly on the plush interior, that the DS 3 Crossback offers.

However, that interior isn’t the most user-friendly, both in terms of control layout and touchscreen useability.

But an excellent residual value means the whole-life cost reflects well on the DS 3, and gives it a unique selling point in areas that are seeing sharp increases in interest, combining both electric vehicles and small crossovers.


paul barker

The verdict

Not quite as impressive as the Kona or Niro for range, but the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense is very well-priced and whole-life costs look good thanks to a residual value of more than 40%.