DS AUTOMOBILES is a fast-growing car brand – the premier division of the French PSA Group which includes Citroen, Peugeot and Vauxhall-Opel – and DS is making quite an impact with its stylised cool-image designs which really turn heads.
The new DS3 Crossback is a fine example – a compact SUV which has a genuine wow-factor and grabs immediate attention. Available in petrol, diesel and all-electric form, this model competes in a tough sector which includes the VW T-Cross, Audi A2 and Mini Countryman and while they all have their own plus-points, the DS wins on sheer visual impact. DS prices start at €24,186 (£21,555) but to get more standard kit you have to move up range and my recent test model was a top-spec Performance Line version priced at €30,806 (£27,455).
It has the 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine giving a hefty 155 hp and is mated to an eight-speed auto gearbox. This combination delivers a zesty 0-100 kph time of 8.2 seconds and it tops out at 208 kph (129 mph). Given the powerful performance, the average fuel figure of 14.7 kpl (41.7 mpg) is quite respectable.
Underway, the car is eagerly responsive, with smooth auto gearshifts. The steering is light so feedback is rather limited but you still get a sense of grip and composure and feel fully in control. Ride comfort is good unless you are on very rough surfaces when the suspension set-up transmits the bumps.
Cabin accommodation offers adequate head and leg room front and rear and while the 350-litre boot is not among the largest in the class, it is still fine for most everyday needs and does expand to 1,050 litres with the rear seats down.
Where this DS outshines its rivals is its street-image – the exterior design of flowing curves and striking features is an outstanding example of famous French flair and that extravagance continues in the cabin where beautifully crafted detailing of the dashboard, doors and gearshift make you feel you are in something that is quite special. And that feeling is particularly important in the SUV sector where a distinctive and exclusive image is often a key factor.