Citroen is celebrating it’s hundredth birthday in 2019 & as one of my favourite cars of all time is the Citroen DS, of any era, I was excited to have the opportunity to test the now stand-alone brand’s latest model, the DS3 Crossback.
The DS 3 Crossback is the second SUV from PSA’s premium brand, following on from 2018’s DS7 Crossback. Like it’s larger sibling, it’s aimed fairly & squarely at the premium sector competing head on with the Audi Q2 & MINI Countryman & to lesser extent the Volkswagen T-Roc & Mazda CX-3.
It’s also the first PSA Group car to sit on the PSA Group’s Common Modular Platform (CMP), with the brand’s upcoming Peugeot 208 & Vauxhall Corsa set to follow later in 2019. This new platform has been designed to take the brand forward, enabling both combustion engine & electrified powertrains to sit on it’s rigid frame.
As with the DS7 Crossback, the DS3 Crossback features some tasty design features. Highlights include pop out door handles when the car is unlocked, LED matrix headlights, an aggressive matt black front grille, slim rear light clusters & a rear spoiler.
Climb aboard & you’ll notice that DS have added some nice touches inside. There’s diamond shaped control buttons & air vents & in the centre of the dashboard, a centrally located dashboard starter button, two more square air-vents this time located in the doors. The 10″ landscape touchscreen is also a highlight & the angular electric window switches set in the centre binnacle are also refreshingly different.
Our test model the Ultra Prestige Pure Tech, also featured Art Black Basalt Nappa leather seats, with a watch strap design, driver electric lumber adjustment with massage function, pearl stitching & Art Black basalt décor.
The top & front of the dashboard are nicely finished in quality plastics, but lower down, on the glovebox, centre storage arm rest & door pockets, the quality is reduced & is a little disappointing for a £30k car.
Equipment wise, the DS3 comes fully loaded, with an electronic parking brake, electrically adjustable & folding door mirrors, keyless start, Hill Start Assist, automatic air conditioning & a Head Up Display.
Safety is to the fore. Driver & front passenger lateral & curtain airbags with rear lateral & curtain airbags, City park, ESP & on our Prestige model, an advanced safety pack featuring adaptive cruise control & autonomous driving are all offered.
Connectivity wise, there’s Mirror Screen with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, DS Connect with 3D SatNav, DAB radio & for your mobile, Bluetooth & two front USB connections. The touchscreen works well, but like sister brand’s Citroen-Peugeot range, it’s frustrating when you need to adjust the climate controls by touching the screen, rather than manually.
Storage comes in the form of front & rear door pockets, a front central armrest, a charging space for your phone & keys & a rear parcel shelf. The boot offers 300 litres of space which, when you fold down the rear seats, increases to 1050 litres. Loading & unloading is hampered though, by a deep boot lip. Opening the hatch comes courtesy of a button located under the rear bumper.
Interior cabin space is distinctly average. At 4,118mm long by 1,988mm wide, it’s almost 120mm shorter than the MINI Countryman & unsurprisingly feels less spacious than the MINI, as well as both the Q2 & the T-Roc.
We were testing the 130hp 1.2 petrol engine in our DS3, but there’s also a 99bhp 1.5-litre diesel, as well as a 1.2-litre PureTech petrol offered with 99bhp or 152bhp, with an EV version, the E-Tense, with a claimed 20 mile range, arriving shortly
The model line-up consists of entry level Elegance, from £21,555, Performance Line from £22,955, Prestige from £24,955, Ultra Prestige from £30,955 & range-topping La Premiere an eye watering £32,455. Indeed, the Pure Tech 130 8-speed auto Prestige Line we tested cost £30,955, which is real Audi/BMW/Mercedes territory.
Take the DS3 out for a spin & it impresses. In town, the auto box is a joy, with smooth ratio gear changes. The steering is light, although the steering wheel does annoyingly self-centre at times.
The engine is quiet & the ride way better than what you’ll find in the Q2 or the Countryman. Speed up a little & head out on some open roads & it doesn’t perform quite as well. It handles corners adequately & the soft springs soak up the road nicely, but it’s just not as engaging to drive as the larger MINI.
You can choose from three driving settings; Eco, Normal & Sport & each does what it says on the can, with Sport giving you a bit more zip when entering the motorway & Eco saving your fuel bill. Talking of the motorway, you can select cruise control from a stalk located on the left of the steering wheel & adjust the adaptive cruise control with steering wheel buttons. At motorway speed’s, the DS3 Crossback is a comfortable, quiet & enjoyable place to be & for a small car offers large car ambience.
For company car drivers, our auto 1.2 petrol, offers combined fuel economy of 42.2mpg with CO2 emissions of 177g/km & a BIK of 22%. In comparison, the only diesel version offered in the range, the BlueHDI 100 manual, comes with a combined economy of 62.7mpg & emissions of 102g/km, so should very much be considered, especially when our 300 mile week in the 1.2 petrol auto gave us a return of only 36.1mpg.
Whilst DS are to be applauded for launching a premium marque with their DS3 & DS7 Crossback’s, with three new models to follow, in the DS3’s case, we can’t help but feel that it’s best to choose the lower priced manual petrol or diesel versions over the auto’s & higher specs. The Elegance & Performance Line range both come very well equipped & coupled with their reasonable asking prices, are better suited to compete with the Q2 & Countryman, as well as our Small Car of the Year the Volkswagen T-Roc.
A DS3 Musketeer 3.5/5.