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First drive: DS 3 Crossback. Image by DS Automobiles.

First drive: DS 3 Crossback
The DS 3 Crossback adds some French chic to the small SUV segment.


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DS 3 Crossback

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

DS Automobiles hopes that the DS 3 Crossback's distinctive French styling can help to lure buyers away from premium players like the Audi Q2 and BMW X2. With the choice of one diesel and two petrol engines, and a fully electric model to follow in late 2019, the DS 3 Crossback has several bases covered.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: DS 3 Crossback Ultra Prestige
Pricing: 34,450 as tested; starts at 21,550
Engine: 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door crossover
CO2 emissions: 123g/km (VED band 111-130: 170 first 12 months, then 145 annually thereafter)
Fuel economy: 51.3mpg
Top speed: 129mph
0-62mph: 8.2 seconds
Power: 155hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 240Nm at 1,750rpm
Boot space: 350-1,050 litres

What's this?

Another small SUV enters the already crowded segment, but the DS 3 Crossback prioritises style and luxury over outright practicality. It has no direct connection to the hugely successful DS 3 hatchback and is built on an entirely new platform. Available only with front-wheel drive, we're driving it here with the more powerful of the two petrol engines offered. Both are turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder PSA Group units, and they come only with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.

To keep up with other fashionable players in the segment, such as the MINI Countryman, the DS 3 Crossback is available with a vibrant palette of colours and, depending on what specification grade you choose, wheel sizes of up to 18 inches in diameter are available. The usual faux off-roader hallmarks are there, like black plastic cladding around the wheel arches and sills. It might not have the same mud-plugging ability of a Range Rover Evoque, but it does have similar door handles that seal flush with the bodywork when the car is locked, popping out automatically as you approach the car - providing you've specced it with the keyless entry function.

There are some design similarities with the company's flagship SUV, the DS 7 Crossback, such as a large mesh grille at the front and in general the DS 3 Crossback stands out from the many generic looking compact crossovers on the market. The shark fin design in the B-pillar is reminiscent of the popular DS 3 hatchback, but that's where the similarities end.

Where DS adds more wow factor is when you open the door and peer inside. It's safe to say that the cabin looks like nothing else in the segment today, and whether it's to your taste or not we commend DS for being daring. The outer air vents are integrated into the doors, while the digital instrument cluster is artistically framed, though we didn't find it all that easy to read. A generously sized head-up display relays all the information you need. A novel diamond design for the climate and infotainment system's shortcut buttons cascades down the front of the centre console. It looks unusual, but again isn't the most intuitive-to-use solutions, and this continues between the front seats where window buttons and other controls aren't that clearly marked.

Space in the back for passengers is on par with most other popular models in the segment, though the available boot space isn't great. At 350 litres it falls well behind its rivals and even with the rear seats folded forward (but not flat) the cargo capacity grows to just 1,050 litres.

How does it drive?

Playing to its premium image the DS 3 Crossback is reasonably refined on the move, and the more powerful version of the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine provides ample performance for a car of this size. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts up and down through the gears smoothly and is as responsive as the engine is.

The suspension is set with comfort in mind. It does a good job of soaking up bigger bumps, but on less smooth surfaces it can feel busy as if it's always working, and this comes through to the cabin. Other than at higher motorway speeds there isn't a great deal of noise intrusion to the interior and, when you drive the car harder, there's a raspy tone from the turbocharged three-cylinder engine. You can, if you wish, switch between different driving modes, though these do little to improve or enhance the overall driving experience. Similarly, you can shift manually with the paddles behind the wheel though the gearbox does a decent enough job when left alone.

Around town and on city streets the DS 3 Crossback feels agile, and its small turning circle makes it easy to do a cheeky U-turn or simply navigate a multi-storey car park. Its steering is light to the touch and takes just three turns from lock-to-lock, making easy work of those tighter car parking spaces. The lack of an all-wheel-drive transmission is unlikely to bother most prospective buyers. As an urban runabout, it has sufficient style, the right amount of refinement and a good deal of performance to cope with the day-to-day stuff easily.


Viewed in isolation, the DS 3 Crossback has a certain level of appeal, not only by being a relatively new brand, and therefore an uncommon sight on the road, but also because it stands out from the crowd. It lacks some of the more practical features that buyers have come to expect from a small SUV like this, but the striking design and snazzy interior help gloss over that to a certain extent.

3 3 3 3 3 Exterior Design

3 3 3 3 3 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

2 2 2 2 2 Luggage Space

3 3 3 3 3 Safety

3 3 3 3 3 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

3 3 3 3 3 Powertrain

Dave Humphreys - 19 Mar 2019

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2019 DS 3 Crossback. Image by DS Automobiles.2019 DS 3 Crossback. Image by DS Automobiles.2019 DS 3 Crossback. Image by DS Automobiles.2019 DS 3 Crossback. Image by DS Automobiles.2019 DS 3 Crossback. Image by DS Automobiles.

2019 DS 3 Crossback. Image by DS Automobiles.2019 DS 3 Crossback. Image by DS Automobiles.2019 DS 3 Crossback. Image by DS Automobiles.2019 DS 3 Crossback. Image by DS Automobiles.2019 DS 3 Crossback. Image by DS Automobiles.


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