23.11.2020DS 3 Crossback E-Tense review
DS Automobiles is on a mission to electrify its fleet, and offers both a practical PHEV and a compact pure-EV - the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense covering the latter. Sharing a platform with other PSA Group EVs in the shape of Peugeot's e-208 and the Vauxhall Corsa-e, the system offers a good balance between outright range and respectable charging times.
Review by Chris Lilly
Fitted with a 100 kW electric motor, the electric DS 3 Crossback is the fastest model in the range, boasting a 0-62mph time of 8.7 seconds, half a second quicker than the most powerful engine on offer. It's something that should come as little surprise to EV drivers, with the instant pick-up from the electric motor responsible for the title of fastest DS 3 Crossback. The electric E-Tense model has six more horsepower than the PureTech 130 petrol engine, but it also weighs around 300kg more because of the drive battery. It's the electric motor that helps make the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense an a doddle to drive; easy, refined, and responsive. For full effect, drivers need to be in Sport mode really, but even Normal mode makes the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense feel nippy enough. It's well suited to town work, though is up to the task of longer trips when required. Braking strength is good, aided in B-mode with brake energy recuperation.
While the performance above is on a par with the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense's group stablemates, the handling isn't. Basic physics means the taller, higher-riding crossover will struggle to match the 'normal' supermini rivals from Peugeot and Vauxhall, and this is shown up in the driving experience. If you're looking for a fun-to-drive EV, there are better models on the market than the DS. When pushing on, there isn’t the same response from the steering, which in itself is light. The suspension will lean more through the bends, and the car’s weight is felt more than those lower EVs mentioned above. Even though the battery is built into the floor of the car, that floor sits higher than the e-208 and Corsa-e - though those really looking for a fun EV should head to Mini or Honda really. Instead, the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense behaves far better as a comfortable cruiser, and deals with poor surfaces relatively well for a short car. It’s not a natural motorway cruiser because of its compact proportions and electric powertrain, but it will still sit well at motorway speeds. Stick to running to work/the shops/school etc and the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense performs nicely.
Drivers of the electric version of the DS 3 Crossback will see for details that distinguish it from the petrol or diesel powered models. This is good news for most, because the DS, although not naturally pretty, is certainly a stylish wee thing. It’s very much in the DS brand’s ethos of being quirky and ‘French’, with plenty going on throughout the car’s surfaces - there are creases and cuts aplenty. It’s a core example of a compact crossover, albeit a premium one, and it stands out from the crowd enough without being too distinctive. The proportions are core crossover too, namely the same footprint as a supermini, but with different focuses on practicality. Those wanting to prioritise rear leg space had best look elsewhere, but the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense has good levels of front occupant space, a decent offering for rear head space, and a useful boot. DS has built the 3 Crossback E-Tense on the PSA Group’s CMP platform, which was designed with electrification in mind. As such, there’s no compromise in interior space with the electric version over the petrol and diesel models - an important point for those that want a DS Crossback, and aren’t too bothered by which powertrain.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The interior of the test car was rather dark, but then it was clad in black leather with glossy black plastic highlights - it’s to be expected really. There are other options available which would lighten the cabin up clearly, though the situation isn’t aided by the fact there isn’t a lot of glass surrounding the place. The E-Tense's cabin shares its ethos with the exterior, in that there are little to no clues that the driver is in something electric. The driver’s digital dials display range and charge rather than fuel levels, and the gear selector has a ‘B’ option where a petrol or diesel model wouldn’t, but that’s about it at first glance. The same widescreen touchscreen infotainment system is fitted, with shortcut buttons arrayed beneath in diamond motifs. It’s easy enough to use but not the slickest or sharpest looking system its class. Other switchgear surrounds the gear selector on the transmission tunnel, which takes a short time to get used to - the amount of times I searched for the electric window switches on the door first is ridiculous, but that’s something buyers will get used to I’m sure.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s official driving range is up to 206 miles on a charge, which is pretty good - certainly useful for a great number of buyers. However, in real-world driving I found the DS couldn’t compete with the identically powered Peugeot e-208 in terms of range. Whereas the Peugeot could comfortably cover 160 miles even on fast roads, boosting that figure to around 200 miles with regular driving in built up areas as well, the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense’s best figure was 160 miles. I got to the stage of having a reliable 130 miles of range each time I set off, but that was a base figure that I could rely on no matter the weather or route. This isn’t bad either, but puts the DS in competition with the Honda e and Mini Electric rather than the Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e it shares components with.
DS 3 Crossback E-Tense drivers get a well thought through set of EV systems to aid with efficiency. The usual suspects are present, which include driving modes such as Eco, Normal, and Sport, plus the D/B settings on the gear selector to alter brake energy recuperation levels. The DS can recharge at up to 100 kW from an ultra-rapid charge point via the CCS inlet, allowing the 50 kWh battery to be recharged to 80% in half an hour. Charging from home, work, or public charge points will take seven and a half hours from a 7.2 kW unit with a Type 2 connector - an 11 kW on-board charger is available as an option. New buyers will get six months’ subscription to Polar Plus for free, and have access to remote control features such as charging and pre-conditioning through the MyDS app. The official efficiency figure from DS is 17 kWh/100km - 3.7 miles/kWh - and the trip computer reported an average of 3.2 miles/kWh by the end of 300 miles in my care.
There are four core trim levels available for DS 3 Crossback E-Tense buyers - Performance Line, Prestige, Ultra Prestige, and La Premiere. There are a series of ‘Inspirations’ packs that then tailor certain features for buyers. Fitted as standard are cloth seats with Alcantara trim, 17-inch alloys, sports styling features, rear privacy glass, flush door handles, automatic lights and wipers, leather steering wheel, acoustic and tinted front & rear windscreens, keyless start, electric parking brake, automatic air conditioning, 7-inch digital instrument display, 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Bluetooth, USB, and DAB. Available as options of fitted further up the range are features such as a premium Focal sound system, 10-inch infotainment system, 3D sat-nav, 18-inch alloys, keyless entry & start, and head-up display.
Having had the Peugeot e-208 on test the week before, the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense had a tough task ahead of itself. The e-208 proved a very good supermini - electric or otherwise - and the DS suffered a little by comparison. It is also up against fierce competition such as the Hyundai Kona Electric, which has a real-world range around twice that of the DS, and the MG ZS EV, which has a similar range but costs far less and is more practical. That said, the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense is a very good crossover for those looking at style as a main priority and rarely cover a great distance. It drives well, has a reasonable range, and charges quickly for a car in this class.
Model tested: DS 3 Crossback E-Tense
Engine / CO2: 100 kW electric motor / 0 g/km
Trim grades: Performance Line, Prestige, Ultra Prestige, and La Premiere
On-road price: From £30,990.
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.0 Stars