The DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE is an all-electric compact SUV with characterful design and a cosseting ride that is ideal for our poor quality urban road surfaces.
The DS brand may not have been around in its own right for very long, but it has already committed to ending the sale of pure petrol or diesel cars by 2025, after which time all powertrains will be electrified. The start of that journey has begun with the launch of the DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE, a pure electric compact SUV, and the first all-electric vehicle developed fully by the PSA Group (there have been electric Peugeots of course, such as the iOn, but this was developed by Mitsubishi).
The DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE shares the same all-electric platform as the Peugeot e-208 and the Vauxhall Corsa-e. The powertrain consists of a 50kWh lithium-ion battery, located under the floor, and a 100kW (136hp) electric motor with 260Nm of torque.
Whereas the Peugeot and the Vauxhall are superminis, the DS 3 CROSSBACK is an SUV – in other words, it’s a body style that’s in demand by buyers (but this is just a front-wheel drive rather than a four-wheel drive SUV). And to further set it apart, the DS has its own distinctive design, on the outside, and on the inside – where its ‘diamond’ theme is evident throughout.
The DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE is essentially the same car as the DS 3 petrol and diesel models – with the same boot volume – but with zero-tailpipe emissions.
The DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE has the benefits common to most EVs, ie. smooth, linear acceleration thanks to instantly available maximum torque, and this is achieved in near-silence, and with high levels of refinement. The DS 3 also has one key additional feature, which is very cossetting ride quality. This helps to create a feeling of even greater levels of refinement.
Despite the ride being excellent, the handling is also impressive for a relatively high-riding car, and a key reason for this is that the battery is located low down under the floor. Although the battery adds 350kg of weight, the DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE saves 50kg compared to the petrol version due to the lack of an engine and gearbox, resulting in a total weight of 1,525 kg.
The DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE launch event started in Paris and headed out into the countryside. The DS 3 was easy to drive, comfortable and enjoyable on all roads, from motorways to country lanes.
Enthusiastic acceleration on the wet cobbled streets of Paris occasionally resulted in the front wheels scrabbling for grip, but this was quickly addressed by the traction control system.
The DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE has three drive modes – Eco, Normal and Sport – which give the expected variety of acceleration outcomes, ranging from dialled-back to responsive. There’s also the option of selecting the ‘B’ transmission setting, rather than Drive, to result in greater levels of brake regeneration.
The launch event included an opportunity to chat with Formula E drivers Antonio Felix Da Costa and Jean-Eric Vergne from the winning DS Automobiles Techeetah Formula E team, in a session MC’d by Formula E presenter Nicki Shields. DS says that the DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE incorporates technology transfer gained from Formula E, specifically with maximising the amount of extra energy that can be captured from regenerative braking.
The interior design, which aims to set aside the DS 3 as ‘premium’ within its segment, is inspired by the theme of diamonds, and this influence can be seen in the buttons for the infomedia system and in many other controls. Although such a design approach forms part of the premium feel that DS is aiming for, some aspects could be described as form over function.
The DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE has an official WLTP combined electric range of 200 miles. It wasn’t possible to check this figure on the launch event, but using regenerative braking certainly appeared to minimise the reduction in driving range.
The car can be charged to 80% in 30 minutes using a 100kW rapid charger (adding 5.5 miles of range every minute). A home charge point will charge the battery to 100% in 8 hours. A heat pump reduces electrical consumption and you can heat or cool the cabin when the car is plugged in before driving using an app.
The DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE costs £32,350 for the Prestige trim level, or £35,350 for the Ultra Prestige trim level, after the UK Government’s £3,500 plug-in car grant. It comes with the same equipment as the petrol and diesel versions.
The DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE is available on PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) rentals at £436 per month for the Prestige and £489 per month for the Ultra Prestige models.
A huge benefit of the DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE for company car drivers is that it will attract a zero per cent Benefit in Kind tax rate from April 2020. Along with fuel costs that can be as low as one-fifth of those of a petrol car, this will be a further help in ensuring that the whole-life costs of running an EV such as the DS 3 will be less than the petrol equivalent.
The DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE has an eight year or 100,000 mile warranty.
The DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE offers a pure electric powertrain in a B-segment SUV – a segment that is increasingly popular with car buyers. The DS 3, like other EVs, is quieter, more refined and delivers smoother acceleration than petrol-engined cars. What sets it apart is the comfortable ride – which is ideal for our poorly-maintained urban roads – and the unique styling and design touches. The driving range of 200 miles may be less than some other EVs, but the DS 3 is designed primarily as a car for use for shorter journeys rather than long motorway trips. And what about the ‘premium’ label and the associated price tag? The DS 3 is certainly very refined and very comfortable, and in a world where EVs have broadly similar driving experiences, the characterful DS design approach certainly provides differentiation. The DS 3 CROSSBACK E-TENSE gains a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.