For Stand-out styling Strong engines Generous equipment levels Our Rating 3 Against Expensive Clunky infotainment Not great to drive 2019
The DS 3 Crossback is a left-field choice in the small premium SUV segment, one that’s been developed with comfort in mind
The DS 3 Crossback stands out from the crowd with a style that’s all its own, but it’s a little bit average in most other respects. There’s a generous amount of standard equipment but prices are high for a small premium SUV that can’t quite match its rivals for outright quality and polish.The DS 3 has been designed with comfort in mind and as such rides well – there’s not as much control as in some rivals, but it’s comfortable around town and refinement is good. It’s easy to drive, the interior is trimmed in some nice materials (even if outright build quality isn’t quite there) and the engine and gearbox combinations are strong. The Audi Q2 is a more accomplished all-rounder, though, as are the BMW X1, Lexus UX, Mercedes GLA and MINI Countryman. There are just too many talented rivals available to make the DS 3 truly recommendable.
31 Jul, 2019 3.5
The DS 3 Crossback was the first PSA Group product to use its Common Modular Platform (CMP) – the same one that’s found under the new Peugeot 208. It’s a rigid structure that’s also been designed to allow for the inclusion of electrified powertrains, uprated in-car technology and Level 2 autonomous driving aids.
From the outside, the Crossback looks the part. It won’t be mistaken for anything else thanks to a bold front end with a large grille, a usefully lofty ride-height, a distinctive kick in the windowline on the car’s profile and large badging to the rear. Some models get two large rear tail pipes for an extra touch of sportiness. The Crossback’s party-piece deployable door handles pop out when you unlock the car. There are plenty of personalisation options, with nine exterior colours, three contrasting roof colours and a total of nine alloy wheel design/colour combinations available through the range.
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Things are just as interesting inside too. The Crossback’s interior is a cacophony of tactile materials, geometric shapes and oddly placed buttons; it looks unlike anything else and puts design ahead of ergonomics in some places. There’s lots of suedecloth-effect coverings and added leather on higher-spec models; it’s far more exciting than the interior of an Audi Q2 and – while not built to quite the same standard – can match the MINI Countryman in the left-field design stakes.
Ergonomics aren’t fantastic, however. There are relatively few buttons in the cabin, with lots of key features – including the climate control – being controlled via the car’s dash-top infotainment screen. It takes a bit of getting used to the Crossback’s strange layout.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Elegance and Performance Line cars come as standard with a seven-inch touch screen atop the dashboard, joined by a smaller screen behind the steering wheel in place of traditional analogue dials. The seven-inch screen is replaced by an impressive 10-inch item on Prestige models and above and is worth the upgrade – it’s not the best in use but it certainly looks great. Prestige models also get automatic cruise control, 3D sat-nav and two USB ports in the front.
The DS 3 Crossback comes with a digital dash, which isn’t available on rivals like the MINI Countryman. The large 10-inch touchscreen display is bigger than many and is fitted with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The smartphone connectivity works well here, but the standard interface for music and sat-nav on lower-spec models is poor; it’s best to resort to plugging in your phone.
There are plenty of features, then, but the Crossback’s infotainment isn’t terribly easy to use. The interface is confusing and frustrating – the screen sometimes takes time to register touches and often doesn’t recognise them at all. Many rival systems – such as those found in the Audi Q2 and BMW X1 – are more intuitive, and because the DS’s air-conditioning controls are only accessed through the screen, you have to look away from the road more often as well.
Unlike so many cars in this class, the DS 3 Crossback has been developed with comfort put ahead of sportiness. Sadly though, the DS’ soft suspension set-up isn’t very well judged. Lumps and bumps around town are soaked up, but bigger imperfections are not very well handled. It’s not hopeless on a twisty road, but corners see the DS 3 exhibit a bit too much body roll, while braking and acceleration cause far too much pitching for a modern car. The DS 3 Crossback would be good for those whose driving is confined to rough city streets, but faster driving isn’t a forte. The softer set-up works well on the motorway, however, proving smooth and refined.
Elsewhere, the steering is light but entirely devoid of feedback; there’s a decent amount of grip but it’s very hard to tell how much is left in harder cornering.
The good news is that the DS 3 comes with a range of decent engines. Our pick of the bunch is the PureTech 130, the most powerful version of the turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol engine. With 129bhp and a standard eight-speed automatic, there’s always plenty of power on tap; our tests revealed in-gear acceleration in third and fourth gears that was demonstrably stronger than that of a MINI Countryman with a 134bhp 1.5-litre three-pot. The engine feels eager and doesn’t need to excessively change down through its gearbox thanks to a good spread of ratios.
Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed
There are three petrol engines and one diesel available in the DS 3 Crossback. A 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol features in the PureTech 100, PureTech 130 and PureTech 130 – these come with 99bhp, 128bhp and 153bhp respectively. The entry-level 99bhp model only comes with a manual gearbox, while all others get an eight-speed auto.
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The entry-level model manages 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds and its slick manual gearbox is good to use, while the top-spec 152bhp car has a little more power low-down but doesn’t feel much faster than the mid-range PureTech 130. The PureTech 130 manages 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds and the top-spec is only a second quicker at 8.2 seconds
The only diesel option is the BlueHDi 100, available exclusively with a six-speed manual gearbox. 0-62mph takes 11.4 seconds.
The standard, European-spec DS 3 Crossback was awarded a four-star safety rating from Euro NCAP – not a great result for this class. However, the addition of DS’s Safety Pack (standard in the UK) bumps that up to a full five stars, with an impressive 96% adult occupant score. All Crossbacks sold here come with an emergency brake system, lane-keep assist, lane departure warning, speed limit recognition and intelligent speed adaptation.
The Advanced Safety Pack is a £500 option on Elegance models, £400 for Performance Line cars or £200 on Prestige models; it adds more sophisticated AEB (Auto Emergency Braking) and lane-keep systems along with blind-spot detection. This pack is standard on Ultra Prestige and La Premiere models. A Premium Safety Pack is also available, which adds even more active systems.
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The DS 3 Crossback is too new to have featured in our 2019 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. DS itself is a fairly young brand and so hasn’t had much time to garner a reputation or loyal following – it finished 28th out of 30 manufacturers. Owners enjoyed driving their cars but reliability proved poor – just over 25% of owners surveyed reported experiencing a fault with their car. However, we don’t have the same worries about the French brand’s latest, more modern products like the DS 3.
All DS 3 Crossback models are covered by a two-year, unlimited mileage manufacturer’s warranty that’s extendable with a three-year retailer’s warranty with a 60,000-mile limit as a no-fee option – though this only applies to cars ‘sourced from DS Automobiles’. A DS Assistance roadside assistance package is free for three years.
DS provides the option of fixed-price servicing for all of its cars. A first-year, 12,000-mile service costs £249, followed by £299 for the year-two, 20,000-mile service. Minor servicing every 12 months or 10,000 miles costs £225; a major service every two years or 20,000 miles is priced at £375. DS also offers brake fluid changes for £69 and MoTs for £54 – but it’s unlikely you’ll need these on an average three-year PCP ownership cycle.
The DS 3 Crossback is a small five-door SUV, but it doesn’t offer much more in the way of practicality over larger superminis – there’s seating for five and an average-sized boot, but you’ll find more space overall inside a Volkswagen Polo.
We’re not fans of the driving position either – hard seats and a limited range of adjustment to the seat and steering wheel mean you may find it hard to get comfortable behind the wheel. All-round visibility isn’t fantastic but we found the car easy to place on the road – its pronounced bonnet edges help make judging the car’s size around town easy.
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Elsewhere, the DS 3 Crossback’s odd approach to ergonomics continues with cupholders located behind the gear selector, a wireless phone charger pad (where fitted) that might not fit larger phones and small door bins. It may look interesting, but user-friendliness was perhaps not the top of the list when the Crossback was designed.
The DS 3 Crossback measures in at 4,118mm in length, 1,988mm in width (including mirrors) and 1,534mm in height. For comparison, the Audi Q2 is a little longer at 4,191mm and wider at 2,009mm (with mirrors), but is lower at 1,508mm. The DS 3’s decent ground clearance (170mm) is worth noting – it could be helpful if farm tracks or large speed bumps are regular features of your driving.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
Space for passengers in the front of the Crossback is decent and it should prove comfortable sitting here provided you can adjust the seats to suit. It’s a different story in the rear, however – space for passengers’ legs and heads is limited and certainly below average for the class. If you plan on regularly carrying adults in the back, rivals like the MINI Countryman are a better bet. There’s enough space for children and smaller teenagers, though.
It’s quite dark and dingy in the rear too, thanks in part to tinted rear glass and a small glasshouse that’s interrupted by a protruding design feature on the high window line, so children may struggle to see out. ISOfix points are supplied on the outer two rear seats.
There’s an adequate amount of space in the back, with 350 litres on offer and the ability to fold the rear seats with a 60/40 split for a total of 1,050 litres. By contrast, the MINI Countryman boasts a 450-litre boot that can expand to 1,390 litres.
Small issues include a high boot lip with a drop down to what is a rather deep boot floor, along with a rear bench that doesn’t quite fold flat – there’s a step between the boot and the folded seats that might hamper loading.
All DS 3 Crossback models are rated to tow a braked trailer of up to 1,200kg or an unbraked trailer weighing up to 620kg. The maximum tow hitch download is 48kg.
Good economy and cheaper running costs than many rivals are two of the DS 3 Crossback’s redeeming features. The most frugal model is the BlueHDi 100, with official fuel economy figures of 54.4mpg to 62.7mpg depending on spec.
Of the three petrol options it’s the least powerful that’s easiest on fuel: the PureTech 100 manages 46mpg to 52mpg, while the 130 returns 42.2 to 47.1mpg. The most powerful PureTech 155 model is (predictably) the least efficient, with official figures of between 41.7mpg and 46.6mpg.
It’s a similar story with CO2 emissions too. They sit at 97-102g/km for the diesel, 105-113g/km for the PureTech 100, 109-117g/km for the PureTech 130 and 114-121g/km for the top-spec PureTech 155. All these figures are subject to varying wheel sizes and weight changes depending on which trim level you choose – stay with smaller wheels if economy and efficiency is a primary concern.
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All internal-combustion-powered DS 3 Crossback models will cost £145 per year to tax, after the initial CO2-weighted first year payment that’s usually rolled into the on-the-road price. You can go as mad as you like with options and personalisation without fear of hitting the £40,000-plus surcharge, however. Prices top out just shy of £36,000 for a kitted-out La Premiere model.
The DS 3 Crossback occupies insurance groups 14 to 24; the lower end of that spectrum accounts for PureTech 100 models, with premiums increasing with engine power and pricier trims. For comparison, the Audi Q2 begins one group below and tops out (sporty SQ2 notwithstanding) in group 27 for a 40 TFSI petrol model.
Despite its left-field appeal, the DS 3 Crossback is likely to hold on to around 40 to 49 per cent of its value after three years and 36,000 miles come trade-in time, according to our experts. This compares favorably with rivals like the Lexus UX (46 to 53 per cent) and Mazda CX-3 (43 to 51 per cent).