DS 3 Crossback (2019-present)

The DS 3 Crossback stands out with a distinctive design, but isn't a totally convincing premium car

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Distinctive looks
Comfortable seats
Electric option

Weaknesses 

Distinctive looks
Poor ride quality
Limited interior space

Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Cartier and Bollinger: France has no shortage of luxury brands, but Citroen is far from being one of them.

That’s the reason why the car firm launched DS, a luxury offshoot designed to bring the magic je ne sais quoi to motoring, with levels of chic that premium German brands can’t reach.

Unsurprisingly, it’s focusing on segments that are currently en vogue, so the DS 3 Crossback is a small crossover car that is meant to combine the sportiness, economy and comfort of the previous DS 3 hatchback, with a higher driving position and extra space. There will be an electric version too.

Sales of small crossover cars, which include the Audi Q2, Mini Countryman and Volkswagen T-Cross, are growing fast, and choice is increasing too, so DS has attempted to differentiate the DS3 Crossback is by what it calls “distinctive styling”.

It’s an admission that the car’s creased design, with an abrupt ‘shark fin’ between the side windows is Marmite-like in its appeal (or lack of it).

The flush door handles pop out when you unlock the car (or approach it on higher-end models) and the design theme extends inside. Here it has an effect on function. For example, the highly stylised buttons for the electric windows are positioned in the centre console, between the front seats, and look like the button for the electronic handbrake (fitted as standard), which is placed near them – not something that you’d want to confuse.

Further up the dashboard, the shortcut buttons for the screen are placed in a diamond pattern. The top section of each diamond doesn’t contain a button, so it looks as if there’s something missing, an option that you have decided not to pay for. It’s not very premium for a car with an Audi-like price, starting at around £21,500 from new - before discounts.

Neither is the touchscreen display. The version on the two base trim levels is a small 7-inch display (there’s no sat-nav as standard on these versions, either), while even the higher-specification model is the same 10-inch display found in other mainstream Citroën cars such as the C5 Aircross.

And even though it’s larger, the area of the screen that is dedicated to the map in navigation mode isn’t the full width. Thankfully, there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, bringing crisp graphics and full app control from your phone, but other equipment that's increasingly common on high-end models, such as bright LED headlights and adaptive cruise control, that adjusts the car's speed in line with traffic ahead, are optional extras on all but top-of-the-range models.

High-specification cars do bring luxurious materials, such as Nappa and perforated leathers, as well as Alcantara (imitation suede) panels. The seats are comfortable, but there’s not a great deal of space in the car, with the rear feeling pretty cramped for adults: legroom isn’t great and headroom for anyone approaching six foot and over will feel restricting.

The 350-litre boot, which extends to 1,050 litres when folding down the rear seats, doesn’t feel spacious either. It's just smaller than the luggage area in a Volkswagen Polo and falls short of the Q2 (405 litres) and larger BMW X1 (505 litres).

The DS3 Crossback isn’t as rewarding to drive as the Audi or BMW, either, with more leaning in corners. The ride, in particular, is disappointingly lumpy, the car thumping in and out of bumps and rough road surfaces.

This is surprising, because Citroën cars usually have good suspension systems – the C5 Aircross is a good example of how smooth their cars can be.

The E-Tense electric version may perform better, as its heavy battery pack will be positioned underneath the floor, moving more of the weight low down, which could make the car more stable and composed.

As it stands, the DS 3 Crossback struggles to meet the standards of premium rivals – and even some of its more mainstream competitors. There are luxurious and stylistic touches, but even if you see the car as elegant and opulent, there are better alternatives on the market, with the Q2 especially competitively priced.

Last Updated 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 - 12:30

Key facts 

Warranty: 
3 years / 60,000 miles
Boot size: 
350 litres
Width: 
1988mm
Length: 
4118mm
Height: 
1534mm
Tax: 
£145-£165 in first year, £145 thereafter

Best DS DS 3 for... 

DS3 Crossback E-Tense
With all-electric power, the E-Tense will be the most economical version of the DS3 Crossback, with no car tax to pay and low electricity costs. Company car tax will be extremely cheap from next year.
DS3 Crossback Prestige PureTech 130
For families travelling less than 10,000 miles a year, the mid-range petrol engine offers a good blend of economy and performance (the diesel brings significant savings for higher-mileage drivers). Prestige trim isn't cheap but adds a clearer 10in dashboard screen, sat-nav, leather seats and front parking sensors.
DS3 Crossback Prestige PureTech 155
The most powerful petrol-engined version is also the quickest, with a 0-62mph time of 8.32 seconds and a top speed of 129mph.
DS 3 Crossback Ultra Prestige PureTech 155
New buyers are advised to steer clear full-price versions of the high-specification Ultra Prestige version, with a list price of more than £30,000 - more than a larger Audi Q3. The petrol engine isn't very efficient and it's expected to lose value quickly - a price the first owner will pay.

DS DS 3 History 

  • May 2019 First UK deliveries.
  • August 2019 Electric E-tense version expected to go on sale

Understanding DS DS 3 car names 

  • DS 3
  • Engine
    PureTech 130
  • Trim level
    Prestige
  • Gearbox
    EAT8
  • Engine
    Petrol engines are badged PureTech, while diesel motors are BlueHDi. The electric version will be labelled E-Tense. The power output of engines is shown in PS (a similar measure to horsepower). The larger the figure, the more powerful an engine is.
  • Trim level
    The trim level indicates the amount of equipment included as standard - and the price. Entry-level versions are badged Elegance, followed by Performance Line, Prestige, Ultra Prestige and, for a limited initial period, La Première.
  • Gearbox
    EAT8 is DS's label for its eight-speed automatic gearbox

DS DS 3 Engines 

Petrol: PureTech 100, PureTech 130, PureTech 155
Diesel: BlueHDi 100 Electric: E-Tense

You can tell the DS 3 is an ultra-modern car because it offers as many electric options as it does diesel - one each.

The three other choices are all petrol engines. They all have the same layout, being 1.2 litres in size and made up of three cylinders, but produce different amounts of power. They are among the first petrol engines to comply with the toughest existing emissions standard, called Euro 6d, which sets strict limits for exhaust pollutants in real-world driving.

The cheapest PureTech 100 engine is efficient, with official fuel economy of up to 52mpg, but sedate acceleration: 0-62mph takes 10.9 seconds. It’s reasonably quiet at steady speeds, and rasps in a sporty way when you’re accelerating hard, even though it doesn’t need a great deal of revving for maximum power. It only comes with a manual gearbox.

The other two petrol engines are only available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which seems to be constantly changing cogs, making the car feel fidgety.
The PureTech 130, is similar to the PureTech 100, with extra power that delivers slightly faster acceleration (0-62mph in 9.2 seconds).

Fuel economy drops by around 5mpg and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions range from 109 to 117g/km. That’s an increase by 4g/km compared with the PureTech 100, which is enough to move it up a company car tax bracket in some cases.

Topping the range of petrol engines is a new PureTech 155, which is the only engine that could be described as anything approaching fast, but fuel economy diminishes to between 41.7-45.7mpg depending on specification. CO2 rises to 121-128g/km.

The diesel BlueHDi 100 is the most economical by far on paper, with an official figure of 54.4mpg to 62.7mpg, while CO2 emissions are 97-102g/km. The price owners pay for that economy is performance: the 0-62mph time of 11.4 seconds is a pretty unhurried experience. There’s no automatic option available with this engine.

The E-Tense electric version looks like a strong competitor to cars such as the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia eNiro, with an official range between charges of 220 miles. Acceleration is brisk and the car moves smoothly between delivering power to the motors and recovering energy when slowing down.

Fuel

Fuel economy

CO2

Power

Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed

PureTech 100

Petrol

46.0-52.0mpg

105-113g/km

100hp

10.9sec

112mph

PureTech 130

Petrol

42.2-47.1mpg

109-117g/km

130hp

9.2sec

124mph

PureTech 155

Petrol

41.7-45.7mpg

121-128g/km

155hp

8.2sec

129mph

BlueHDi 100

Diesel

54.4-62.7mpg

97-102g/km

100hp

11.4sec

112mph

E-Tense

Electricity

220 mile range

0g/km

136hp

8.7sec

tbc

DS DS 3 Trims 

Elegance, Performance Line, Prestige, Ultra Prestige, La Première

With four trim levels, plus an additional introductory trim for the initial launch period, and several personalisation options, DS has a complicated range. Standard equipment isn't particularly generous for a suppoedly premium car either. 

Entry-level Elegance cars come with 17-inch alloy wheels, chromed flush-fitting door handles, keyless start, a 7in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for full control of apps on the screen, digital radio, cloth seats and leather-covered steering wheel. There’s also a space-saver spare wheel.

Safety equipment includes hill assist, to prevent you rolling back on hill starts, rear parking sensors, automatic emergency braking system to help prevent frontal collisions and lane-keeping assist that steers the car back into line if it’s drifting outside of a lane.

Upgrading to Performance Line (for an additional £1,400 from new) adds electrically folding and heated door mirrors, tinted rear windows, cloth seats with Alcantara (imitation suede) sections, as well as front and rear carpet mats.

Buyers paying an additional £2,000 for the Prestige trim, get a larger 10in touchscreen display and sat-nav, leather seats, a frameless auto-dimming rear-view mirror, automatic wipers, two front USB connection points, and front parking sensors in addition to those at the rear.

Ultra Prestige models costs a further £3,000, for which buyers receive 18-in alloy wheels, a head-up display, keyless entry and start, bright LED headlights, a reversing camera, high-quality Nappa leather seats and lumbar adjustment, heating and massage function on front seats.

An advanced safety pack is included too, adding more advanced versions of the automatic emergency braking system, and lane keeping assist, which recognises the road edge as well as white lines, plus blind spot detection.

For early adopters who want a special edition DS3 Crossback, the La Première launch model (£1,500 more than Ultra Prestige) adds driver assistance features, including adaptive cruise control, which can accelerate and brake itself on major roads to keep a safe distance from any traffic ahead. Wireless charging and Nappa leather interior panels are included too.

There is also a choice of nine paint colours, contrasting roof shades and a range of wheel designs to personalise the car.

DS DS 3 Reliability and warranty 

The DS3 Crossback was launched after the most recent Auto Express Driver Power survey, so it doesn’t appear in the list of most reliable car

Parent brand Citroën also only has a couple of models included, but they’re low down on the list. And with Citroen also propping up the table of manufacturers, in 26th place of 27, the DS will need to buck its parent company’s recent trend of mediocre performance.

The warranty is only average, covering what is an industry-standard three years and 60,000 miles.

Used DS DS 3 

At the time of writing, first deliveries of the DS3 Crossback are yet to arrive with customers, so used examples are some way off.

Other Editions

  • DS 3 (2010-present)
    Sold on its style and sporty drive, the DS3 used to be known as the Citroen DS3