DS3: Everything you need to know on France’s new Supermini

 

The original Citroën DS was a masterpiece. It became an icon thanks to its sublime ride quality, large seats, and understated styling. It’s as much a part of the French landscape as the Eifle Tower, and as much a part of perfume adverts as supermodels with a tad too much eye liner are. This image became the quintessential benchmark which many French cars that came after the DS tried to live up, and failed. This is because most of them were budget supermini’s, and the ones that weren’t just didn’t have the forward thinking, yet classical appeal of the DS.

In 2010, Citroën recognised this and thought they’d address the problem with their DS3 hatchback. And as it turns out, a basic but quirky hatchback with styling that wouldn’t look out of place in a Louis Vuitton shop window goes down well with consumers. So well in fact that they gave the car its own identity, separate from the rest of the Citroën lineup. This is how the DS subbrand was conceived.

Their first model was the DS7, which made a lot of sense in today’s automotive climate. However their following car seems to be an even better move, because if there’s anything that sells even better than SUV’s, it’s crossovers – cars which are styled to look like an SUV, in a body the size of a hatchback, with the same price tag as one. The car in question, is the DS3 Crossback.

 

 

Currently, there is no word which describes the DS3 Crossback more than “promising.” £22,000 for a basic one, equipped with a 100hp petrol engine is reasonable for this market. Further up the range there are two more petrols in the form of 130hp, and 150hp engines. If economy is what you’re looking for though, then you’re best off with the 1.5, 100hp diesel. Though there’s no word on just how fuel efficient it’ll be yet. However, if you can afford it then there will also be an electric one available, known as the “E-TENSE” costing from an excess of £30,000. While that figure seems a tad on the steep side, it is considerably cheaper than other top spec high-end crossovers, and is only a fraction of the price you’ll pay for most other electric cars on the market right now. Its only immediate rival is the Nissan Leaf. Speaking of which, can’t match the E-TENSE’s 190 miles of range.

The DS3 Crossback also seems to be better built than its rivals too. It feels like a solid quality product. The door offers a satisfying “clunk” when closing, the windshield is made from acoustic glass. T
he doors are made from thicker metal and glass to contribute to sound deadening. These measures work well to compliment the car’s 515-watt, twelve speaker Focal sound system – which should sound great from the car’s bio-density foam seats. This gives you a clue as to what the DS3 Crossback is really designed to do, and that’s carry people in comfort.

Odd exterior design choice blocks visibility for rear view passengers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As soon as you get in this car, you’re greeted by Tesla-esk door handles. Except they’re better than Tesla ones because the edges are much more rounded off. They pop out when the key is within 1.5m of the car. Once in the car, you can’t help but love the interior. Centre-piece of the dashboard is the car’s 10.5′ inch screen. Though what’s around it which is far more interesting; on some models, the dashboard and doorcards are made from diamond stitched leather, but you can also have this interior in alcantara too, if that’s more up your street. The steering wheel is chunky, and has a small airbag. Even the stitching on the leather which goes over the wheel centre is stylish – two vertical lines live on either side of the DS badge. The car’s design language really shines in the interior. Everything from the centre consol buttons to the design of the dials (which by the way, are just a screen) houses fashion, and all kinds of unusual accents.

From outside the car, you could be forgiven for thinking that the bulbous B-pillar obstructs the driver’s side-rear visibility but you’d be wrong. You don’t really notice it from the car’s front seats. However it’s a different story in the back, where it may become slightly annoying to rear passengers on longer journies. Another exterior feature I don’t like is the fake vents at the rear. Why? They’re bad enough on a sports car, but why put them on a refined crossover? Same story with the huge exhaust pipes… Even if they don’t look bad, they just don’t go with the rest of the car. And neither does the button to open the boot lid, because they’ve hid it above the number plate at the bottom of the car’s rear. Not that I’m against hiding the boot lid button, but to put it there just isn’t part of a practical design – and this car needs to be practical. This area will get dirty and therefore your hands will too. Oh, and did I mention that it doesn’t even have a handle to open the boot? I’m convinced that they got a different team to do the back of the car, than they did for the rest of it. Even if boot space in itself is okay, elsewhere on the car’s design is tasked with redeeming this and I’m glad it does a good job of that. The black plastic wheel arches and side skirts give the car a chunky look, while the wheels and front lip give no misdirection to the fact that this car belongs in the city. Additionally, potholes won’t be a worry in this car because of the chunky tyres and high ground clearance. The high belt line and secondary colour roof extenuates the car’s sleek look. And the matrix headlights, which have thirty LED’s on them, would not look out of place on a car four times its value. As neither would the taillights, which have a fine diamond pattern etched into them that matches with the interior’s theme of the same. Something else which seems to belong on a much more expensive car is the atonomy. The Crossback has optional Active Cruise Control and Lane Position Assist on top of the ability to park itself. So near enough all you have to do is decide were you’d like to go.

I have to be honest, the mistakes in this car’s design are amateur ones. Ones which DS’s parent company (the PSA group) have no excuses for making. But even in the face of that fact, I still like the DS3 Crossback. Par its bigger brother, the DS7, I think it’s about the most French car on sale today and therefore a worthy product to carry the DS’s namesake. When it goes on sale next year, I have no doubt in my mind that it’ll sell well on its fashionable aesthetic alone.
By James Harrison

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